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Is Soy Sauce Keto?

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  Published on July 12th, 2023
  Reading time: 4 minutes
  Last modified June 26th, 2023
Keto soy sauce

Soy sauce brings a uniquely tangy and slightly sweet and salty flavor to an array of dishes from stir fries to grilled fish and beyond. This rich, dark brown sauce is known for providing umami flavor—that complex brothy, savory taste.

If you’re a soy sauce fan and you’re following a ketogenic diet, you’re probably curious if soy sauce is keto-friendly. You might be thinking about your favorite soy-coated stir fry, chicken potstickers, or pad Thai. Can you glaze your keto-friendly veggies and meat with soy sauce if you’re keto? Let’s look at the nutritional profile of soy sauce and whether or not it’s included on the keto menu.

What Is Soy Sauce?

Originating in China, soy sauce is popular in Asian cuisine and used in different types of food. [1] Soybeans are the primary ingredient and soy sauce is usually made by boiling and then fermenting soybeans or hydrolyzing them (breaking them down with acid). 

Soy sauce is sometimes made with both wheat and soy, so it isn’t always gluten-free. Some manufacturers ferment soy and crushed wheat for several days in a salty brine with mold cultures. Some types of soy sauce are derived only from fermented soy and others are made with rice, making them better options for those with gluten sensitivities. 

Two types of soy sauce

Tamari, often described as the Japanese version of soy sauce, is produced as a byproduct of miso paste. [2] For those avoiding soy, coconut aminos makes a good substitute for both soy sauce and tamari.

You can find various types of soy sauce. Dark soy sauce has typically aged longer and has a thicker texture and darker color. Dark soy sauce and sweet soy sauce often have caramel or molasses added after brewing to thicken the sauce and yield a sweeter and more complex taste, which makes these unsuitable if you’re keeping your diet low-carb.

Soy is one of the major allergens, and many people avoid it for specific reasons, such as allergies or following a paleo ancestral diet. Check out our detailed article for more information on the pros and cons of soy.

Is Soy Sauce Keto?

Can you have soy sauce on keto? The short answer is yes, because most soy sauces on the market contain few net carbs (except for sweet and dark soy sauces with added sugar). 

One tablespoon (16 grams) of a typical soy sauce made with soy and wheat provides: [3]

With a net carb count of less than 0.7 grams for one tablespoon, soy sauce can easily fit into a ketogenic diet. Low-sodium soy sauce has around 0.8 grams of net carbs. [4] Condiments and sauces that provide less than one or two grams of net carbs per tablespoon are a good choice for those living the ketogenic lifestyle. Most people don’t consume multiple spoonfuls of soy sauce in one sitting; it’s typically eaten in smaller amounts as a marinade, condiment, or as an ingredient in a sauce. 

The soy sauce packets you often find in restaurants and take-outs provide a smaller portion of about half a tablespoon, so you’ll consume fewer sugar, carbs, and calories (around 0.4 grams of net carbs per packet).

Cooking keto with soy sauce

Watch out for any added sugars or corn syrup. While regular soy sauce is the most commonly used, dark soy sauce may have molasses and sugar added, so you’ll need to be mindful of those. Because dark soy sauce is slightly sweetened it has a higher carb count, with some containing up to 5 grams of carbs per serving. [5]

There isn’t a recorded glycemic load or index for soy sauce, but research concludes it provokes a low glycemic and insulin response, which is good news for those following a keto diet. [6] Because you usually only take in very small amounts of soy sauce at a time and it is low in carbs, it’s unlikely that soy sauce would have any significant impact on blood sugar.

Soy sauce doesn’t provide too many vitamins, in part because serving sizes are generally small, but there are sizable amounts of the micronutrient sodium. A one-tablespoon serving has 878 milligrams of sodium. Some people might avoid eating too much soy sauce due to the high sodium content or may choose low-sodium varieties. 

Soy does contain isoflavones which could be beneficial. Research reveals soaking and fermenting the soybeans could improve the bioavailability of the isoflavones—plant-based compounds with a similar structure to estrogen. However, you’re not likely to consume enough soy sauce to gain any substantial benefits from its nutrients and isoflavones.

Best Ways to Include Soy Sauce in Your Ketogenic Diet

Transform soy sauce into a marinade or braising liquid for your preferred meats or pour some into your soups, stews, and stir fries to level up the savory flavor. The flavor of soy sauce isn’t affected by heat during cooking. The humble soy sauce also makes a great condiment for dipping!

Try soy sauce (or substitute coconut aminos for the soy) in these mouthwatering keto recipes from our skilled recipe creators here at Ketogenic.com:

Steph Green is a content writer specializing in and passionate about healthcare, wellness, and nutrition. Steph has worked with marketing agencies, written medical books for doctors like ‘Untangling the Web of Dysfunction,’ and her poetry book ‘Words that Might Mean Something.’ In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.



Stanska, K., & Krzeski, A. (2016). The umami taste: From discovery to clinical use. Otolaryngol Pol, DOI: 10.5604/00306657.1199991


Sasaki, M., & Nunomura, N. (2003). Fermented foods soy (soya) sauce. Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Second Edition), https://doi.org/10.1016/B0-12-227055-X/00455-7


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Database. Soy Sauce Made From Soy and Wheat (Shoyu). FoodData Central (usda.gov)


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Database. Soy Sauce Made From Soy and Wheat (Shoyu) Low Sodium. FoodData Central (usda.gov)

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