Calories and Weight Loss
Originally people tried to count calories, figuring it wouldn't matter what they ate, if they kept their calorie intake within reasonable boundaries. The trouble was, they didn't know what reasonable boundaries were and they set their calorie needs far too low. This set up the 1000 calorie-a-day diet which was a bad idea since it couldn't be maintained for very long without health consequences due to inadequate nutrition and it could cause a slowing of metabolism setting the stage for yo-yo dieting.
Next we tried counting fat grams--a little bit easier. We only had to pay attention to fat. If we ate foods with little or no fat, they were considered safe, like fruits, and vegetables without added butter, and you'd avoid high fat foods. Simple yes, but could the food sellers sit idly by and watch their profits go up in smoke? No they could not, and hence a low fat revolution was born. We should have suspected something fishy when fat-free Entenmann's Coffee Cakes came onto the scene. The trouble then began since the "fat free" products were not calorie free and most people would eat more, "Hey, it's fat free!"
Low Carb/Low Calorie/Low Fat Bunk
Finally came the same idea only all dressed up as Low Carb or No Carb. Does it make sense to have something called Low Carb Bread? I don't think so. First of all, just ignore any package that claims "no carb" (ditto "low fat" or "no fat") when it had no carbs to begin with. Licorice has no carbs, it also has no fat, but that doesn't make it a healthy choice, and it does have calories. It's the triple whammy and it all counts. (BTW, I'm not saying licorice can't be a good snack choice, just don't think you can eat it freely since it doesn't have carbs or fat). Marshmallows have no fat. So what?
I think it works fine to pick one thing or another, so count calories, fat grams or carb grams if you like. It puts you in the right frame of mind to pay more attention. Whatever you choose, read labels like your life depends on it because it just might. If we have to start carrying calculators to do the math, so be it. Maybe packages will start to come with calculators built in--that'd be nice.
For now the FDA allows food manufacturers to determine how many servings in a package and there is no standard measurement so one package of four cookies may be one serving and it may be four. Read the labels. How many servings is meaningless. What matters is multiplying the numbers by how many servings you eat, then you'll have the truth in labeling.
How Many Calories Per Serving?
If a package says it contains 250 calories per serving, and you intend to eat the whole package, then you must do the math; multiply the number of servings times the calories to arrive at the real number.
Net carbs is a clever ploy to make a foods appear to contain less carbs than they really do. It's a labeling trick, don't fall for it. Think about all the people who used Atkins before the Net Carbs appeared; how did they manage to use the program and count their carbs? Wouldn't their actual intake have been far less than they thought, if net carbs was an accurate depiction of real carbs?
The introduction of "net carbs" may have allowed many more to stay with a low carb diet than would have previously simply because they are actually getting more carbs, hence a bit more realistic diet.
For more on whether I believe Calories Don't Count
Try this Quick Reference Calorie and Nutrient Counter