When you’re following the Keto diet, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out exactly what you can and can’t eat. This allows for sneaky carbs to wiggle their way into your meal plan without you realising it. Ketchup is one of the most popular condiments and it would be easy to add a squirt or two to your hotdog without even thinking about it.
Unfortunately, ketchup is not Keto-friendly, and you might be whittling away your precious net carbs without realising it. The following article will explain why ketchup should be avoided on Keto as well as what you can use as a Keto-friendly substitute.
How does Keto work?
In order to understand why you should steer clear of ketchup while on Keto you need to know how Keto works. Keto seeks to change the way your body sources its fuel. Traditional diets include a large amount of carbohydrates which allows your body to produce glucose in the liver. The goal of Keto is to make the switch from using glucose as your body’s primary fuel source to using ketones.
You might be asking yourself why the Keto diet would want to change the way your body produces energy. There are a variety of reasons that ketones are a better source of fuel for you. For starters, think about the last high carb meal you ate. How did you feel after eating? Chances are, you experienced a burst of energy shortly after eating which was followed by a dramatic drop in energy, brain fog, fatigue and hunger a few hours later.
This is caused by your changing glucose levels. The carbs that you eat are very quickly turned into fuel for your body which leads to a spike in energy. However, this spike is short lived which means that your body essentially crashes leaving you tired, hungry and needing more carbs. This rapid rise and fall in energy levels can make it difficult to function let alone lose weight.
Ketones are a much more stable form of energy. They’re created out of stored body fat in your liver. Fat takes longer to burn through than carbohydrates and it’s readily available for fuel. This means that you’re going to experience a steady stream of energy without the hunger pains associated with a high carb diet.
When your body creates glucose it only uses what you need in that moment for energy. Everything else is stored away in your body as fat to be used when food is scarce. Because the majority of us have no trouble finding food this survival mechanism that served our ancestors so well is actually a hindrance to our weight loss efforts. Your body is reluctant to give up this stored fat which means that it’s very difficult to burn it away through exercise. It’s also difficult to prevent the stored fat from building up when you’re eating a high carb diet because you can’t accurately gauge exactly how much glucose your body will need which means some will inevitably be stored away as fat.
Ketones are created from fat. When your body is in a state of ketosis the fat that was stored away previously is easier to access and you’re suddenly able to lose the weight you’ve been fighting to lose for so long.
In addition to helping you lose weight and stabilize your energy levels ketosis can help you get rid of brain fog. Your brain is one of the largest consumers of energy in your body which means that it needs a constant, steady stream of energy in order to function properly. Ketones provide this steady source of fuel to your brain in order to allow it to function at the top of its game.
In order to achieve ketosis, you need to eat very specific macronutrients. Macronutrients, more commonly referred to as macros, are the fat, carbs and proteins that make up your diet. The ratio of these macros is very important in Keto.
You should aim for 70-75% of your calories to come from healthy fat sources. If you’re following a 2000 calorie diet, you’d aim to eat 1400-1500 calories of fat a day. When it comes to protein you should aim to have 20-25% of your calories coming from protein sources such as lean meats, fish and nuts. This would be roughly 400-500 calories of protein daily. Carbohydrates should only make up 5-10% of your daily calorie intake, or 100-200 calories of a 2000 calorie budget.
If you eat too many carbohydrates your body will be thrown out of ketosis because it’ll have enough carbs to begin producing more glucose; although, not nearly enough for your body to function properly. This can be doubly frustrating because not only will you be kicked out of ketosis, you’ll also feel terrible. You’re not providing your body with enough carbs to properly produce glucose, and you’re eating too many carbs to properly produce ketones. This means that you’re starving your body of both energy sources.
Keto net carbs
Net carbs are very important on Keto and tracking them properly can mean the difference between success and failure. But what are net carbs?
Net carbs are the carbs that your body can digest and use to create glucose. Both fibre and sugar alcohols pass through your body without being digested which means that they can’t be used to create glucose. They are both; however, carbohydrates. In order to figure out your net carbs for an item of food you simply take the total carbs and subtract any grams of sugar alcohols or fibre. Some Keto food items have the net carbs listed on the nutrition label.
Every person’s body is different when it comes to how many carbs they can tolerate without being kicked out of ketosis. The only way to truly know is by testing. Blood tests, urine tests and breath tests are all readily available to find out how many ketones your body produces after you’ve eating different amounts of carbs daily. However, if you’re just starting out it’s a good idea to limit your net carbs to 20-25g daily to ensure that you stay in ketosis.
Is Ketchup Keto?
Knowing what you know now about how the Keto diet works and what you need to eat to stay in ketosis it makes sense that Ketchup is not considered a Keto-friendly food. If you’ve ever looked at the nutrition label on a bottle of ketchup you’ve probably noticed that it’s extremely high in sugar. In fact, a tablespoon of ketchup contains no fat and no protein which leaves 100% of the calories coming from carbohydrates. Any food that is 100% carbs is an automatic no on Keto!
A single tablespoon of ketchup has 5g of carbs and unfortunately none of those carbs come from fibre or sugar alcohols so the net carbs in ketchup are stuck at 5g per tablespoon. Since you can only eat 20-25g of carbs a day you can see how something as innocent as a squirt of ketchup can easily railroad your Keto.
Alternatives to Ketchup on the Keto diet
If you’re missing the sweet tomato goodness of ketchup, then there are some keto-friendly alternatives you can try. The first thing you might want to do is find a ketchup that has fewer carbohydrates. Look at the nutrition label on the back of some sugar-free and organic ketchup options in store. These are often lower in added sugars which means that it might be possible to squeeze a tablespoon into your Keto depending on how many carbs you have left in your budget.
If you’re hard pressed to find a good keto-friendly ketchup brand, then you might want to try another condiment such as hot sauce. Although the taste is spicy as opposed to sweet, hot sauce is packed with flavor and can give old foods a rejuvenating boost.
You could also try another condiment superstar such as mustard. Mustard tends to be lower in carbs than ketchup which makes it a better choice. Keto-friendly mayonnaise is another great option, especially if you make your
Homemade Keto-friendly Ketchup
If you just can’t stand the thought of giving up ketchup altogether and you find the sugar free store-bought options unappealing then the best thing to do is make your own ketchup! It’s easy to do and takes only a few minutes. Although it will still have a few carbs, it’s easier to control the number of carbs in your ketchup when making it from scratch.
To make your own ketchup you’ll need tomato paste, a few spices, apple-cider vinegar, water and a keto-friendly sweetener of your choice such as monk fruit. You can change the flavor profile to match your food by adding in a spice such as cayenne pepper for spice or paprika and cumin for a more savoury flavor. The internet is full of great recipes, such as this one here.
Ketchup is too high in net carbs to be considered a practical, Keto-friendly option. You might be able to find a lower-carb option in stores if you look for sugar free or organic ketchup. However, making it is very easy and allows you to better control your carbs as well as the flavor of your ketchup.