Soy sauce is a popular seasoning used in many dishes. It’s a staple in Asian cuisine but is it suitable for a keto-friendly diet? Although soy sauce isn’t carb-free, some types of soy sauce are very low in carbs and can be included in a keto diet.
Types Of Soy Sauce
There are different types of soy sauce and the different types have different ingredients and different nutritional information. This also affects how many carbohydrates the sauce has.
Soy sauce can be produced through either traditional or chemical methods. Soy sauce made traditionally is made by fermenting soybeans and wheat in a mixture of water and salt. The fermentation process uses bacteria, mold, and yeast, and the sauce is then aged over a long time, usually months and sometimes years.
The chemical method is much quicker and can be completed in around eight to twelve hours. This process uses a strong solution of acid and some high heat to break down the soybeans.
As well as the difference in production methods, different brands of soy sauce can have different amounts of ingredients. The amounts of soybeans, salt, wheat, and other ingredients vary from brand to brand and this affects both the flavor and nutritional content.
The soy sauce that is typically available on the market in the United States is considered “light soy sauce.” This has little to no added sugar and is very low in carbs. Soy sauce which is considered “sweet soy sauce” has large amounts of sugar added to it. This type of soy sauce is not keto-friendly.
Light Soy Sauce
As we stated earlier, this is the most common type of soy sauce that is found in the United States and across North America. It has little to no added sugar and typically contains one gram of carbs or less per 15 milliliters, which is around one tablespoon. This is one of the more keto-friendly soy sauces.
This variety of soy sauce isn’t as common in the United States but you can still find it. Tamari soy sauce is considered gluten-free and contains one gram or less of carbs per tablespoon.
Dark Soy Sauce
This type of soy sauce is typically sweetened a little. It depends on the exact brand of dark soy sauce, but the carb content in these sauces can range between one to five grams per tablespoon.
Sweet Soy Sauce
Sweet soy sauce is more sweetened than dark soy sauce and should be avoided if you’re on a keto diet. The amount of added sugar differs depending on the brand, but it can include up to 15 grams of carbs per tablespoon.
As you can see from our breakdown, if you’re on a keto diet and want to include soy sauce in your cooking, you should opt for either light soy sauce or Tamari soy sauce.
Can I Enjoy Soy Sauce On A Keto Diet?
Keto diets aim to restrict your intake of carbs so that your body falls into a state of ketosis. This means that instead of burning carbs for energy, your body instead burns fat and this results in you losing weight.
For this to take place, you don’t need to reduce your carbs to zero a day. This is almost impossible and most research suggests that you can still take in some carbs, around ten percent of your regular intake, and still achieve ketosis.
This would be around 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day and the exact amount will depend on your circumstances.
Light soy sauce and Tamari soy sauce are very low in carbs so it is possible to include these types of soy sauce in a keto-friendly diet. You will need to keep track of your meals and carb content and make sure you choose the right brands of soy sauce, however.
If you eat out at an Asian restaurant, keep in mind that many dishes use soy sauce as one of their ingredients. It’s a common seasoning for other sauces as well as being served as a side dip for foods such as sushi and gyoza. If the nutritional information isn’t provided, you may need to ask the staff about the soy sauce they use.
Here are our tips for incorporating soy sauce into a keto-friendly diet.
Check The Labels
Even if you choose a light soy sauce, make sure that you check the nutritional facts label before you make any purchases. This should tell you how many carbs the sauce contains per serving and help you choose the right soy sauce for your diet.
Keep track of how many carbs you eat each day and make sure that you have enough allowance left for some soy sauce. This is easier with the lower carb soy sauces but even a couple of carbs too many can interfere with your diet.
Remember that the carb content of soy sauce is related to the portion size. The nutritional labels usually list how many carbs are present in a tablespoon of soy sauce so keep in mind that if you use more, the carb amount will increase too.
A tablespoon of soy sauce does go a long way, however, as the single servings of soy sauce that are served in packets are typically one-third of a tablespoon.
Soy Sauce Substitutes
Thankfully, there are also substitutes available for soy sauce. If one gram of carbs is too much or you can’t find this lower-carb type, you can substitute soy sauce for one of the following alternatives. They all taste similar to soy sauce.
- Liquid Aminos – if made from soy protein, these are carb-free
- Maggi Seasoning Sauce – this contains less than one gram of carbs per tablespoon
- Fish Sauce – this also contains less than one gram of carbs per tablespoon. However, fish sauce usually contains more sodium so it will taste saltier than soy sauce
Although not carb-free, soy sauce is low in carbs and can be included in a keto diet.