When first starting the ketogenic diet, it can be difficult to determine if something is keto or not. You probably know to avoid sugar, but there are plenty of sneaky ways that companies hide sugar in products and it’s not always as simple as looking for sugar on the ingredient label. So, how do you know if something is keto or not? What should you watch out for?
Look At the Nutrition Fact Panel
The simplest way to determine if something is keto or if it is not is to check the nutrition fact panel. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet. On average, most people consume 20g of net carbs or less each day. If the nutrition fact panel lists a high number of carbs, it is not in fact keto-friendly.
Sometimes foods are marketed as sugar-free, no-sugar-added, or even diabetic-friendly, but this does not necessarily mean that they are keto.
For example, Murray Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip cookies are marketed as diabetic-friendly and sugar-free. They are sold commonly in the diet food section of stores like Walmart but are deceptive. 1 serving (3 cookies) contains 20g of carbohydrates. Less than 1g of these carbohydrates is from fiber and 6g are from sugar alcohols (maltitol and sorbitol).
They are technically sugar-free and have 0g of added sugar (even though maltitol and sorbitol are sugar alcohols that can and will spike your glucose), yet have 14g of carbohydrates purely from flour.
Other Names for Sugar
Many products also use sweeteners and fillers that are not labeled as sugar, but have a glycemic impact and can kick you out of ketosis. Besides sucrose (table sugar) here are a few common ingredients you’ll want to avoid:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Additional Ingredients to Avoid
Certain fibers may be listed on a nutrition fact panel under the fiber section so you may assume that it can be subtracted from the total carbohydrates to obtain the net carb count. However, not all fibers are created equal and some are partially digested, meaning they can not be completely subtracted. Avoid ingredients like IMO (isomaltooligosaccharides) and opt for fibers like soluble corn fiber instead. This will help avoid underestimating the total number of carbs consumed and prevent getting kicked out of ketosis.
When asking yourself if something is keto or not, it is important to not just entirely focus on the carb count and sugar content, but also other potentially harmful ingredients. As a general rule, it is beside to avoid hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and inflammatory oils with a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. When reading an ingredient label, here are some inflammatory oils you should avoid:
Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
*Vegetable oil as a blend of oils, not all oils that come from vegetables. Coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, etc. are all acceptable on a ketogenic diet.
Steps to Take Next Time You Ask Yourself "Is It Keto"
Next time you are debating on trying a product and you don’t know if it is keto or not, follow these general steps:
1) Look at the nutrition panel. What is the carb count? Does it fit into your total daily carb limit?
2) Look at the ingredient label. Does it have hidden sugars or partially digested fibers that could kick you out of ketosis?
3) Does it include any other ingredients that aren’t necessarily going to kick you out of ketosis, but are harmful to your health in other ways (like hydrogenated and/or highly inflammatory oils)
How Do You Determine If Something Is Keto or Not?
Comment below and share your top tips with the keto community!
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