The awareness of the ketogenic lifestyle is increasing together with people's health-consciousness when it comes to food. About time!
As a result, a bunch of keto, low-carb, and sugar-free food products are popping up online and at the supermarkets.
Not every product in the market is as keto-friendly as it seems. Many packaged food products have hidden carbs and other ingredients that are not keto-friendly and can, after one bite, kick you out of the ketosis. Not worthy of your time and money. Trust me.
If you are new to the ketogenic diet and have noticed that you keep falling out of ketosis with no apparent reason or you're still not 100% sure how to spot the right foods to support you in your keto journey, follow the next 5 easy tips for choosing the right keto-friendly packaged foods.
Small disclaimer: We are not the Keto police (woo-woo) and believe that anyone can and should make their own decisions about what they eat and when they eat it, but we're here to help you make the best-informed decision.
1. ALWAYS check the ingredients list.
You see we really emphasize the 'always'?
Good. We're serious about that.
It's a common mistake to think that ‘hey, this ice cream has 6g net carbs, if I squeeze in a bit, I can fit it into my macros and my lifestyle!’
Net carbs are important but so are the ingredients. Keto is a low carb (and high-fat) diet, but it is also all about eating quality foods.
The less processed and more ‘real’ a product is, the best it is for your health, metabolism, and for maintaining this lifestyle in the long-term.
Dr. Anthony Gustin, the founder of Perfect Keto, is a well-known advocate of eating quality foods. In this interview for Funky Fat Foods, he mentions that "you need to look at food quality. If you don't have food quality, you're gonna fall apart."
There’s also a BIG chance that low-quality food products have hidden carbs, like Maltodextrin and Dextrose.
These are not always listed as carbs but fillers, meaning it will not always show on the nutritional facts on the label (but they show on the ingredients list!!).
No wonder why you might be eating carbs without noticing and… falling out of Ketosis often.
Check both the ingredients and nutritional information to see if the product you have your eyes on fits in your keto lifestyle. And pay attention to the serving size. Every product is different.
2. Skip sugars (obvious and hidden)
Many companies claim their products to be sugar-free, however, it is common to see they include other sneaky sugar substitutes that have similar effects to your body. There are over 60 different names for sugar. That's right. Over SIXTY!
Some may be obvious but others not. That's why it’s super easy to fall into the sugar trap. How in the hell would you know all these names by heart?!
We get the struggle.
The trick is to look out for these names on the ingredients' list:
- All types of sugar (Coconut sugar, Brown sugar, Palm sugar, Caramel, etc)
- Syrups (High-fructose syrup, Malt syrup, Maple syrup, Agave syrup, Corn syrup, etc.)
- Fruits and fruit juices (Cane juice, Fruit juice, Dates, Dried fruit, etc.)
- Chemically-sound ingredients (Dextrose, Glucose, Lactose, Fructose, Maltodextrin, Maltose, Disaccharide, etc.)
- What-the-hell-is-that type of ingredients (HFCS, Diastatic malt, Muscovado, Treacle, Barley malt, etc.)
Maltodextrin, for example, is a very high GI (110) sugar substitute but it is commonly listed as a filler. It doesn’t always appear as sugar or carbohydrate on the product's nutritional information.
Maltodextrin is present in hundreds of food products and is worse than sugar, so beware of these hidden junk.
2. Skip artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols that are not keto-friendly
Many sweeteners used in sugar-free products can easily knock you out of Ketosis and raise blood sugar. We’ve seen brands claiming their products are stevia-sweetened, but in reality, when you look closely in the ingredients list, you can find a mix with other sweeteners that are not keto-friendly.
So lookout for the sweetener traps too.
Some of the sugar alcohols, or polyols, that should be avoided are:
- Maltitol (especially!)
Xylitol (GI 13) is a sugar alcohol that is technically keto-friendly, and in small amounts (like in gum) may have no impact on your diet.
Some of the artificial sweeteners that should also be avoided are:
- Acesulfame K
Although there is no clear evidence that they are bad for you, nobody says they are good. It's just not worth the risk. What we already know is that they may enhance sugar cravings, which is not a good thing if you're following a keto lifestyle.
To make it easy for you, perhaps it is best to be aware of which sweeteners are most commonly approved on the keto diet, which are:
- Stevia (GI 0)
- Erythritol (GI 0)
- Monk Fruit (GI 0)
- Allulose (GI 0)
These sweeteners are zero-glycemic, meaning that they have zero effect on your blood sugar.
3. Skip artificial trans fat and highly-processed vegetable oils
Fats are awesome but not all of them. It is highly recommended to avoid artificially produced trans fats and highly-processed vegetable oils on a ketogenic diet.
Unlike olive oil, coconut oil, and other nut oils, most vegetable oils are highly processed and produced with high heat, solvents, and bleach. These artificial fats can cause inflammation and health problems.
Unfortunately, you’d be surprised to know how many products contain artificial trans fats. However, don't mind the small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats in whole foods like grass-fed meat and butter. These are fine.
Some types of trans fats to avoid are:
- hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated anything
- interesterified oils.
On the list of high-processed vegetable oils to avoid are:
- corn oil
- soybean oil
- canola oil
- cottonseed oil
- sunflower oil
- safflower oil
The sources of these oils (like corn) are not naturally fatty sources. If you think you can't remember all these names, just think of that:
Would you ever think of extracting fat from corn or a sunflower naturally? Like squeezing it and literally fat coming out of it? Yeah... I didn't think so.
If you find products that contain these kinds of fats, just walk away.
Dietitian Lotte Damen shared everything about the healthy and not-healthy fats in this article: The 4 Main Types of Fats: Good vs Bad
4. Skip starchy ingredients
Starchy foods are not keto-friendly. You won't be surprised to see many products you never imagined to have starchy ingredients. Some very obvious, other less.
Some of the starchy ingredients to look out for are:
- Grains (Oats, Rye, Quinoa, Rice, Buckwheat, etc)
- Wheat (Bulgar, Burghul, Durum, Bran, White flour, etc.)
- Starchy veggies, flours and fillers (Cornstarch, Tapioca fiber, IMO fiber, Cottonseed, Cassava, Powdered cellulose, Lentil, Sweet potatoes, potatoes, etc.)
These sources of carbs may be in small quantities in certain products. However, if you don't check and eat several products that contain any of these, by the end of the day, this can easily add up.
5. Skip artificial food additives and preservatives
The key is to look out for those ingredients that you’ve never heard of before, can't even pronounce or don't even sound edible.
Ok, ok... our bars are made with MCTs and Erythritol - which may not sound so edible at first and may be also hard to pronounce.
But by now you know what these ingredients are and their health benefits 👍
If you’re not sure what an ingredient actually is or if they're harmful to your health... skip it for the time being.
As we mentioned in tip number 1, eating Keto is about eating whole foods (and not about only eating bacon and butter all day everyday). Real Keto-friendly products are made with natural ingredients and without artificial flavours, additives, and preservatives.
But to be honest, this is not only about being keto. We think that nobody should be eating this kind of junk.
Some of the artificial additives and preservatives that are not recommended are:
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG): used as a flavour enhancer
- Potassium and sodium sorbate: used to extend shelf life
- Carrageenan: used to thicken products
- BHA and BHT: used as a preservative
- Artificial flavours and colourings
You can find these and other preservatives to avoid in this other article from Perfect Keto, listing the Top 8 Food Preservatives to Avoid
Bottom line: Always check the ingredient list… and research!
“It says Keto it must be Keto, right?”
Nah. Not always.
Calculate net carbs, double-check the carb/sugar content on the nutritional list (pay attention to the serving size as well!) and read carefully the ingredients list.
If you spot a sweetener or a food additive that you don’t recognize or you're not sure about, then don’t buy it. Take your time, do your research and if you’re convinced, then go on!
Usually, when you see a product with an essay of an ingredient list compared with another one made with little ingredients, give preference to investigate the latter.
That’s why we are 100% transparent with our ingredients. We're glad to receive a lot of questions about it and we love that you ask it. That’s how it should be.
Our Funky Fat Chocolates are made with top quality keto-friendly ingredients that won't raise your blood sugar, or kick you out of ketosis. Our bars are Non-GMO, Vegan, Keto, Gluten-free, Soy-free and Junk-free. No artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives or soy.
And the taste? Cause that matters...
They have a delicious rich chocolate taste - with absolutely no MCT or erythritol aftertaste.
Check out all our 5 different flavours Hazelnut, Coconut, Coffee, Dark and White Chocolate to pick your new favourite keto chocolate bar. We have a sample pack as well so you can try them all if you can't choose just one 😉
Bonus tip: Here's a complete list with all the Ingredients you should avoid on a keto diet.