This is a question I get ALL of the time.
I will start this by saying if you do not want to read below, then the simple answer is no. I count all of the carbohydrates that are in the foods that I'm eating. If I'm being 100% honest, I pay no attention to fiber or sugar grams in the foods that I'm eating. Let me explain why.
I guess the only real reason of this picture is to show you I eat cookies. Like.....everyday now. Haha!
To begin talking about carbs, fibers, and sugars, we must first explain glycemic index.
Glycemic index is a numerical value that associated with simply what that food will do to your blood glucose levels. When they were originally associating values for this, a person was put on a fast for 12 hours and ate a food on an empty stomach and then the blood sugar was tested. They took an average of 10 patients for each food. ( On a side note: I know this is the best way to do this however there are certain foods that we would never eat first thing in the morning therefore their glycemic index may be different when combined in the stomach with other fatty foods but that's another blog post)
I'm going to keep this simple so:
A high glycemic index will cause a more rapid rise in blood glucose levels and are digested quickly. Some examples of these are candy, white bread, cereal, pasta, chocolate.
A lower glycemic index will cause a slower rise in blood glucose levels and is digested much slower. Examples are this are the foods that you always hear are "healthy" such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, seeds, beans, whole grains and some fruits, Usually a lower glycemic index equates to a stable insulin response however this is not always the case however, lower glycemic foods are best for diabetics and stable insulin response has been shown to help with fat loss however this is debatable.
So, let's get to the point!! NET CARBS!
There are three types of carb--> effective carbs, non-impact carbs, net carbs
STICK WITH ME AND YOU'LL ALWAYS KNOW WHY! MY BRAIN HURTS TOO!
Effective carbs --> all of the carbs that have an effect on blood glucose levels (this is further broken down into simple and complex carbs)
Non-impact carbs--> have no effect on blood glucose levels (neither high nor low). This INCLUDES FIBER! Fiber passes through the body undigested.
Net Carbs by defintion is non-impact carbs subtracted from effective carbs. Glycerol is a non-impact carb that was used as a sweetner in many products that did not have to be counted per the FDA as a carbohydrate source. That recently changed in the 1980's. When glycerol was changed to a carbohydrate source, then manufacturers had to come up with ideas to sell their products because the carb count jumped so much.
The term net carb was coined by manufacturers to get away with using glycerol as a sweetener in their products, classifying it as a non-impact carb so that it is made to look as if the carbohydrate number on the food group is lower.
However, these non-impact carbs have calories!! You are still intaking the calories from these net carbs. Normally, the people that even care about net carbs are going to be those that are on a low carb diet. If you are on such a low carb diet that your body is in ketosis, then the non-impact carbs will be processed as effective carbs anyway so then that defeats the purpose. The industry is able to label their foods "low carb" because there has not been restrictions placed on this yet even though the amount of carb in them may not actually be so low.
In the end, I know that this is not that serious. I just think it's important to be knowledgeable about what you are doing. If you are just simply trying to eat better and you see a food with a lower net carb then by all means, that's a great choice. However, if you are counting macros then stick to the full carbs and you'll have better results.