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 a low-carb diet may need to be high in fat to be sustainable (here’s why). For more information on fat’s role in the body, what happens to the body when you eat it and whether to worry about cholesterol, take a look at our guide to fat on a low carb or keto 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:
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.
Mustard 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.
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.
Fat is satiating, and it makes food taste great. But how do you make sure that you eat enough on a keto diet… and not too much? A basic rule is to eat what you need to feel satisfied, but not much more.2
What about vegetable, nut and seed oils? This is a bit more complicated. Natural oils that have been around for thousands of years should generally be safe.3
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 Use 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?
Detailed list and recipes for low-carb fats & sauces
Below is a detailed list of carbs in fats and low-carb sauces. The number is net carbs per 100 gram (3½ ounces).
Do you want to make your own low-carb sauce, or use fat? Follow the links for awesome recipes.Butter 0
Coconut oil 0
Béarnaise sauce 2
Hollandaise sauce 2
Ranch dip 2
Thousand islands dressing 3
Heavy cream 3
Soy sauce 4
Blue-cheese dressing 4
Tomato paste 15
Net carbs = digestible carbs, i.e. total carbs minus fiber. ↩
In a two-year study, nearly 200 people with diabetes lost weight and improved their blood sugar control on a keto diet that allowed them to eat as much as they needed to feel full:
Frontiers in Endocrinology 2019: Long-term effects of a novel continuous remote care intervention including nutritional ketosis for the management of type 2 diabetes: a 2-year non-randomized clinical trial/strong> [non-controlled study; weak evidence] ↩
Millions of years ago, the only vegetable fats our ancestors consumed likely came from wild plants.
Around 4000 BC or earlier, pressed olive oil became a staple in the diets of people living in Italy, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries.
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.
The consumption of soybean oil increased more than 1,000-fold between 1909 to 1999.
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] ↩