Low-carb fats and sauces – the best and the worst

What are the best and the worst fats and sauces on a low-carb diet? It’s an important question as many commercial fats and sauces may have hidden carbs and sugars that can make it difficult to stay on a low-carb diet.

There are tons of great options for adding more fat or sauces to your diet, but there are also some not-so-good ones. For more details, please check out this visual guide. The lower-carb options are to the left:

Low-Carb Fats and Sauces

The numbers represent grams of net carbs per 100 gram (3½ ounces).1 The green foods contain less than 5 percent carbs – a good basic rule of thumb for a keto low-carb diet.

Note: these are general numbers so please keep in mind that they may vary between different brands. To be on the safe side, read the nutrition facts label on the back.

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LowCarb_mustard_ketchup_2Mustard vs. ketchup

Should a low-carber choose mustard or ketchup?

Well, ketchup generally contains a lot more carbs than mustard does, but some kinds of mustard also have a lot of sugar added, so choose sugar-free mustard, like Dijon, for example.

Check the nutrition facts label to make sure.

 

Ribs, BBQ sauce and carbs (sugar)BBQ issues

Please note that store-bought BBQ sauce is often loaded with sugar. Those glazed ribs may look nice, but there’s likely quite a load of sugar on them. Remove the sauce to stay low carb. Or decide to eat anyway, with full knowledge of what you’re doing.

Low-carb BBQ guide

fat-rounded800How to eat more fat

Many of us may still fear dietary fat, and who can blame us after 40 years of being encouraged to eat low fat!

On a low-carb diet, you don’t need to fear the fat. Cook in butter, leave the skin on your chicken, and eat the entire egg — yolk and all.2 Drizzle on olive oil.

Fat tastes great! So, don’t shy away from fat when eating a low-carb diet. Use fat as needed to enjoy your food.

Here are the top 10 ways to eat more fat

Oils

What about vegetable, nut, and seed oils? This is a bit more complicated. Natural oils that have been around for thousands of years are likely good choices to eat3

The vegetable oils we know today were developed at the end of the 19th century, when technological advances allowed oils to be extracted from other crops.4 Instead, we suggest using pure olive oil, ghee, avocado oil, almond oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, fish oil — anything for which it is easy to extract the oil with simple pressing, grinding, churning or low heat separating.

We recommend minimizing the use of highly-processed seed or vegetable oils created within the past 60 years, such as corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, and cottonseed oils.

These oils are created by chemical extraction and high heat industrial processes.5 They’re quite new compared to butter, olive oil, and other fats that have been used for centuries or longer, and it’s not clear what kind of effects they might have on health. Therefore, we feel that consuming mostly traditional, less processed fats is best.6

Learn more here: Vegetable oils: are they healthy?

Similar low-carb guides

 

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Healthy fats on a keto or low-carb diet
A low-carb diet for beginners
 
  1. Net carbs = digestible carbs, i.e. total carbs minus fiber.

  2. Are you concerned about saturated fat? In all likelihood, you may not need to be. Although still somewhat controversial, several recent systematic reviews of randomized trials have failed to show a connection between eating saturated fat and increased heart disease risk:

    Open Heart 2016: Evidence from randomised controlled trials does not support current dietary fat guidelines: a systematic review and meta-analysis [strong evidence]

    Nutrition Journal 2017: The effect of replacing saturated fat with mostly n-6 polyunsaturated fat on coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
    [strong evidence]

    Learn more here: A user guide to saturated fat

  3. Millions of years ago, the only vegetable fats our ancestors consumed likely came from wild plants.

    World Review of Nutrition & Dietetics 1998: Dietary intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids during the paleolithic [overview article; ungraded]

    Around 4000 BC or earlier, pressed olive oil became a staple in the diets of people living in Italy, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries.

    American Society for Horticultural Science 2007: Olive oil: history, production, and characteristics of the world’s classic oils [overview article]

    Around 100 years ago, there was very little vegetable oil in the food supply, and it did not form a significant part of the diet.

    Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society 1974: Fat in today’s food supply – level of use and sources [overview article; ungraded]

    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005: Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century [overview article; ungraded]

    The consumption of soybean oil increased more than 1,000-fold between 1909 to 1999.

    American Journal os Clinical Nutrition 2011: Changes in consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the United States during the 20th century [observational study, weak evidence]

  4. Vegetable Oils and Oilseeds 1970: A review of production, trade, utilisation and prices relating to groundnuts, cottonseed, linseed, soya beans, coconut and oil palm products, olive oil and other oilseeds and oils [text book article; ungraded]

  5. Chemical Engineering Transactions 2017: Recovery of vegetable oil from spent bleaching earth: state of-the-art and prospect for process intensification [overview article; ungraded]

  6. This is based on our consensus opinion at Diet Doctor, but it is not conclusively supported by scientific evidence as we detail in our guide on vegetable oils.