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Net impact on Carbs
I've been doing some research on this and I'm still unsure if I should count
the total carbs or the net impact carbs. For example, I just bought these bars
made by EAS called Advant Edge Carb Control Nutrition Bar. The back says 18
grams of carbs, but the front says 2grams of impact carbs. The bar claims that
only 2 grams should be counted toward your daily carb intake. It goes on to say
that only starches and sugars cause blood sugar changes and that other carbs,
including Glycerin, have a minimal effect on blood sugar.
So what's the deal? Should I worry about the non net impact carbs while doing
CKD? How do you guys look at it? Ripper, LTE, ACE, WSURaider, etc., what are
While I was searching the net for this answer, I found lots of ads selling low
carb snacks, but few articles discussing this topic. Below I've pasted one of
the few articles I could find. Keep in mind that the source may be questionable,
as I've never heard of them, but that doesn't mean anything because I haven't
heard of alot of people .
Here's the link to this article in case you want to go straight to the source:
Should You Count that "Low Impact" Carb?
Every drugstore, supermarket, and department store in the U.S. is filled with
snack products that claim to be perfect for the low carb diet. The labels on
these products may list 24 grams of carbs but assure you that you only have to
count 2 or 3 of these grams in your daily carb allotment. If these make you
suspicious, perhaps you prefer the brands that list only a gram or two of carbs
in their nutritional information. But a look at their ingredient list almost
always shows that glycerine or maltitol are among the major ingredients of these
bars too--the same substances reported on the labels of the bars that list
20-some grams of carbs in their nutritional information.
What's Going on Here?
Most of these "low carb" products are sweetened with substances called "sugar
alcohols." Maltitol, mannitol, and sorbitol are some of the names of these
sweeteners. Despite the name, these aren't sugars or alcohols. They are
hydrogenated starch molecules, produced by three large agribusiness companies,
SPI Polyols, Roquette America, Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland--a company that
having saturated the world with High Fructose Corn Syrup is now looking for new
ways to make money out of corn.
These sugar alcohols are metabolized. Each gram of a sugar alcohol turns into 1
to 3 calories rather than the 4 calories that other starches produce. US law
requires that they be reported as carbs on food labels and included in calorie
counts--though many companies, notoriously those who make chocolate bars and
"protein" bars do not report them in their label nutritional information.
The manufacturers of these products claim that they do not raise blood sugar,
and hence, because they supposedly have no impact on insulin levels, the
manufacturers urge you to ignore them, magically converting foods that have 24
grams of carbs--and the associated calories--into foods with a diet-friendly 3
If it were true that these foods did not raise blood sugar, it would make them
ideal for the low carb diet. However, it is not always true. Some lucky people
can eat these low carb treats and still lose weight on a low carb diet. But
hundreds of people who have stopped by the alt.support.diet.low-carb news group
to ask why their weight loss has stopped cold, find that these foods and the
sugar alcohols they contain are the reason for their long-time stalls.
Many people with diabetes, who can track blood sugar rises with their
glucometers, find that these products cause a significant rise in their blood
sugar, contrary to the label claims.
I'm one of them. My blood sugar rises almost as high when I eat a maltitol-sweetened
Russell Stover "No Sugar" candy as it does with the regular Russell Stover candy
of the same size. The only difference is that it takes two hours for the blood
sugar rise to occur when I eat the "no sugar" candy compared to the one hour
that it takes when I eat the regular candy. The blood sugar rise is followed by
a period of low blood sugar--the hallmark of an insulin response--and the
trigger for intense, diet-busting hunger. So much for "truth in labeling."
I am not the only person who has found this to be true. Many other people with
diabetes have posted their reports online. Fran McCullough warns readers of the
very high blood sugar spikes reported by diabetics after eating the glycerine-containing
Atkins bars in her book, Living Low Carb.
Not for Everyone!
However, there are other people with diabetes who report that they don't see a
blood sugar rise when they eat foods containing these sugar alcohols. They find
these products give them a way to incorporate legitimate treats into their diets
and are grateful that they are now so plentiful.
There are also a number of successful low carbers who report in the diet
newsgroup that they have been able to lose significant amounts of weight while
including these "low carb" treats in their food plans on a daily basis. You will
often find them railing against the "puritanism" of those who warn new dieters
Clearly these products do not affect everyone in the same way. For some people
they are a godsend. For others, they turn out to be "Stall in a Box."
Why Do Sugar Alcohols Only Affect Some People?
Since it seems that only a subset of the population metabolizes sugar alcohols
as sugar, it is quite possible that some people lack some enzyme(s) needed to
digest them and turn them into blood sugar. Since those people's bodies can't
turn these sugar alcohols into glucose, they do not experience a blood sugar
rise when they eat them.
Lending some support to this idea is the fact that some of the people who report
that they did not experience a blood sugar rise when they ate a product with a
sugar alcohol in it, add that they experienced intense diarrhea or gas later on.
These are the classic symptoms of what happens when starches pass undigested
into the lower gut where they may be fermented by bacteria (causing gas) or suck
water out of the cells lining the colon (causing diarrhea).
Many of us who do get the blood sugar rise do not experience this diarrhea. Our
digestive enzymes appear to be able to break down these hydrogenated starches
into glucose--though given the time lag, this happens slowly.
What about Glycerine?
Glycerine is another sweet additive that manufacturers add to low carb bars.
Here again, you'll find that, because manufacturers claim glycerine does not
raise blood sugar, they omit it in the carb section of the label information or,
if they do list it, they do not include it in the number of diet-counted
"impact" carbs. ( Glycerine is sometimes spelled Glycerin and is another name
As Lee Rodgers, proprietor of The Low Carb Retreat explains, it is only true
that Glycerine does not raise blood sugar when people are not low carbing .
When liver glycogen is full, glycerol is converted to fat.
When liver glycogen is empty, glycerol is converted to glucose.
And sometimes just goes right through without doing anything
In short, if you are in ketosis (having emptied your liver of glycogen, its
stored carbs) glycerine turns into blood sugar, and then, of course, raises
A University Study Shows Atkins Bars Raise Your Insulin Levels Out of Proportion
to their Carbs
A recent study at Ohio State University, partially funded by Atkins Nutritionals
entitled "Insulin Response To Some Energy Bars Is Out Of Balance" demonstrated
that the low carb bars have a significant effect on insulin levels despite label
claims. Even more disturbing, the rise in insulin was much higher than the
corresponding rise in glucose.
The Atkins Advantage bars caused blood insulin levels to rise to an amount that
was only 26% lower than the rise caused by eating the same weight of white bread
while blood sugar rose an amount 71% lower than the rise caused by eating the
This means that the bars caused a rise in insulin that was not met by a
corresponding rise in blood sugar. This would tend to make the bars a trigger
for cravings, since insulin that doesn't find carbs to mop up tends to cause low
blood sugar and low blood sugar causes intense hunger. Even worse, the high
insulin secreted in response to the bars is likely to turn any fat the low
carber ingests with the bars into body fat. Here's a link to a pdf file
containing the published study.
So what does this mean for you?
If you are just starting out low carbing, you would be well advised to treat
these products with caution. If you are one of the people who do metabolize
sugar alcohols, for whom these grams of "low impact carbs" turn into regular,
old, high impact glucose, eating a couple of these treats each day could easily
derail your low carb diet by adding another 20 to 40 grams of carbs to your
That's why you might consider low carbing without these foods for the first few
weeks of your diet until you have become accustomed to how your body feels when
your blood sugar has stopped reacting to carbs. If you crave a sweet treat
during these first few weeks, try one of the truly low carb treats and snacks
whose recipes have been posted on the web. You can find these recipes using the
Google Groups Advanced Search scanning the alt.support.diet.low-carb newsgroup
for the term "REC." You'll find hundreds of recipes containing no "hidden carbs"
at all. Do this until you've gotten the hang of what low carbing feels like to
Once you've gotten into a steady low carb regime and are losing weight, you can
test these commercial "low carb" products to see what effect they have on you.
If you keep losing weight you can relax. You are one of the lucky ones who can
treat them as "low impact" carbs. If you don't, well, for you there's no free
lunch. Continue making your own truly low carb treats--and losing weight.
If you are diabetic, you don't have to guess about how sugar alcohols affect
you. You can turn to your trusty blood sugar meter to see what they do to your
blood sugar. But if you test, test products containing sugar alcohols 2 and 3
hours after eating. Testing only at one hour after eating may be too early and
you may miss the blood sugar spike they cause.
Don't Forget the Extra Calories
Even if you can eat snack products containing sugar alcohols without spiking,
it's worth giving some thought to the question of how good an idea it is to fill
your diet up with calorie-dense low carb junk food.
Though the best selling diet book authors make it sound as if low carbing
somehow magically "melts the fat away" this is not true. Low carbing evens out
blood sugar, which eliminates hunger and makes it very easy to eat a lot less.
But to achieve long term weight loss you must eat less than you burn each day.
As you get closer to your weight goal, this becomes more and more evident. The
smaller you are, the less food your body burns, and most people find they cannot
get the last 20 pounds off without watching their calories closely and eating
only 9 - 10 times their body weight in calories. (i.e. if you weigh 140 lbs you
may find you have to eat 1269 to 1400 calories a day to lose, depending on the
speed of your metabolism and your activity level.)
With that in mind, you can see why, independent of the blood sugar issue, that
snack bar with its 240 calories that you eat every day between meals may have
serious repercussions for your diet--besides replacing more nutritious foods
like the low carb vegetables that form such an important part of the diet of so
many successful low carb dieters.
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