Sept. 23, 2020 — 6 a.m. EST
Check out a few popular keto hashtags like, #ketomeals, #ketolifestyle, or #ketoweightloss, and you’ll see some startling before and after photos. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that tricks the body into burning fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. By eating foods high in fat, like avocados, extra virgin olive oil, and yes even burgers (in moderation). But you have to ditch high-carb foods like bread, pasta, and sugar in any form. Packaged keto snacks can seem like a keto dieters dream — you can just grab and enjoy without having to think twice.
But does a keto label on a product automatically make it healthy? What do you need to look for on the label to ensure your snack is both keto-friendly and good for you? What should you avoid at all costs? Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS clinical nutritionist and author of Keto Diet stopped by The Dr. Oz Show on Weds, Sept. 23, 2020 to share what keto dieters should look out for, healthy keto snacks, and more.
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What to Look for on the Label
Dr. Axe says his clients are always trying to eat snacks that mimic what they can’t have. Things like “keto-friendly” cookies, breads, or even ice cream. But even if you think you’ve found the perfect keto replacement for your typical sugar fix, you still need to read the label.
“On the standard keto diet, you're looking for something that has typically around 70% fat, 15 to 20% protein, and around 5 to 10% carbohydrates, says Dr. Axe. “The key is you want to keep your carbohydrates to less than 30 net grams of carbs per day. So typically, you're going to be looking for something that's higher in fat and may have ingredients like coconut oil, almond butter, and avocados.” To stay on track, look for 3 grams of net carbs or less for a snack.
What You Need to Know About Keto-Branded Bagels, Bread & Pasta
When it comes to a product that’s meant to replace your carb-heavy favorites, pay attention to the first ingredient listed. Dr. Axe loves keto snacks that are made with almond flour, and coconut flour because they’re high in fats and fiber and are a good source of protein.
“Personally, I would avoid wheat and isolated protein powders,” says Dr. Axe. “The main protein in wheat is gluten. So, if these companies were labeling it right, the number one ingredient on the label should be gluten,” he adds. If that’s the case, you're getting a really high dose of it, which isn’t good for you. Remember, always look for the first ingredients to be food names you recognize, not mystery powders.
What You Need to Know About Meat Snacks Like Jerky
Dr. Axe warns that not all packaged meat snacks are not created equal. Animal products that are made from animals that are not grass-fed or organic means the product is going to be higher in omega-six fats, which can cause inflammation. Look for words like “wild” or “organic” on your jerky labels.
You should also pay attention to the amount of sodium and artificial ingredients on the label. “Those excess levels of sodium can be hard on your heart health and can increase your blood pressure. That's why I say stay away,” says Dr. Axe. While some grass-fed and wild jerky products are fine, he warns that the majority are not good for you.
People who need to restrict their sodium intake should look for jerky that contains less than 140mg of sodium per serving, and only eat one serving size with that amount. Dr. Oz has a great recipe to make your own keto-friendly jerky at home.
Is Keto Ice Cream Possible?
If your sweet tooth is the hardest part of maintaining a keto diet, this is for you. Most desserts throw people out of ketosis, so ice creams branded as keto-friendly are totally confusing. How is it possible?
According to Dr. Axe, “Instead of sweetening these ice creams with sugar like traditional ice cream, keto ice cream brands use zero/low-calorie sweeteners like stevia, monkfruit, and/or sugar alcohols (i.e. erythritol).” So while it won’t spike your blood sugar or kick you out of ketosis, some sugary alcohols aren’t well-tolerated and could cause digestion issues.
The real issue with keto ice creams is the amount of carbs in the product. “Let’s just say these are marketed products,” says Dr. Axe. Keto ice creams often have 10-20 carbs per serving, which is really the total amount of carbs you’re allowed in a day anyway. You can quickly throw away a day’s worth of carbs in just a few bites of these marketed ice creams. “That little sliver of carbs you’re allowed in keto should be used on leafy greens,” Dr. Axe points out.
If you must have a bit of keto ice cream, Dr. Axe says to pay attention to the fiber source and type of sweetener used, to see if you have any issue digesting it. And if you’re not on keto, Dr. Axe says this isn’t a healthier alternative to ice cream for you either. “Reach for a low-calorie pint instead,” he says.
For more keto snack hacks, check out Dr. Oz’s keto packaged foods grocery guide. Take it with you to the store the next time you’re shopping for keto foods and check back all season, where Dr. Oz will be making grocery guides in different categories to make it as easy as possible for you to stay healthy at the grocery store.