Just chiming in way late ... but the whole carb counting thing was a hot topic back in 2003/2004 and then low carb took a nose-dive with a lot of big name manufacturers hopping on the wag and making substandard products, then claiming low carb didn't work and didn't sell, when it was their crap products pretty much...
I've been low carb (when I'm behaving) since 1998 and a foodie for a heck of a lot longer than that.
You're getting pretty good advice here, SmokeKing, overall. Two things I would want to emphasize:
1) yes, you really should pick a plan and stick to it (it will give you the knowledge you seek) and the one I would most recommend for health and just enough technical information to make sense (vs. hype) is Protein Power, by the Drs. Michael and Mary-Dan Eades. Available in paperback and cheap at the price.
2) Polyols or sugar alcohols average half the calories (and they ARE carb calories) so there are, by inference, those that are more caloric and those that are less. Erythritol is the least caloric, by a huge factor. And almost all polyols cause some level of gastric distress (i.e., gas, diarrhea). Empirically, in my reading and experience of the last 10 years, I can tell you that the less distress one has ingesting the darn things, the more likely you are digesting them and your blood sugar will be affected, and then you insulin.
All that will make sense if you read Protein Power.
Culinary & Nutrition Geek