Soy sauce is a savory liquid condiment made from soybeans, wheat, water, and salt. It's a staple in Asian cuisine, adding flavor to stir-fries, sushi, and more. It brings a burst of umami goodness to your dishes. But is soy sauce keto? The crucial detail lies in its carb content. As a keto food enthusiast, you might have lots of questions in your mind:
Is soy sauce keto-friendly? What is soy sauce? How many carbs are in soy sauce? These may be the questions you're asking yourself about this super-common ingredient. We'll dive into all the details below!
- Is soy sauce keto friendly?
- How is soy sauce made?
- What is soy sauce made from?
- Nutritional breakdown + carb content in soy sauce
- Types of soy sauce
- Gluten-free substitutions for soy sauce
- Key things to look for when choosing a soy sauce for a keto diet
- Wrap-up: Is soy sauce keto?
- Frequently asked questions
Is soy sauce keto friendly?
Yes, you can include soy sauce in a keto diet. It has around 0.7 grams of net carbs per tablespoon. People worldwide use it as a key ingredient in various dishes. You can also use it as a marinade or dipping sauce. It's extremely popular, even for those on strict diets like paleo or keto. However, some soy sauces are high in carbs. So, follow the guidelines below to pick the best low-carb soy or tamari sauce.
How is soy sauce made?
Soy sauce is created by fermenting cooked soybeans with various forms of yeasts to create sugars. This is combined with additional starches used during fermentation to help break down the soybeans further. After the entire process is complete, salt is added, which acts as a preservative - meaning fewer net carbs are present due to the slight fermentation that is already complete.
What is soy sauce made from?
Soy sauce is typically made from soybeans, water, wheat, and salt. These ingredients form the foundation of various sauces, undergoing fermentation to develop intricate flavor profiles. Since wheat is included, soy sauce isn't gluten-free, and it's not used in our recipes. But don't worry! There are substitutes and alternatives for those on a gluten-free diet, which we'll cover below.
Nutritional breakdown + carb content in soy sauce
Soy sauce from many store-bought brands often contains about 20% sugar and maltodextrin, among the first ingredients. If you're watching your sodium intake, note that it's also high in sodium.
Traditional soy sauce has approximately 0.7 grams of net carbs per tablespoon. While this can accumulate in recipes using larger amounts, we usually use smaller quantities. Even if used more, the net carbs are distributed across the whole recipe, often making them insignificant in the final result.
Here's the full nutritional breakdown of regular soy sauce and tamari in one 1 tablespoon serving:
Types of soy sauce
Soy sauce comes in various delightful varieties, all with their own colors and textures. Let's explore the three main types of soy sauces, each with its distinct taste and culinary charm:
Sweet soy sauce
With a delightful balance of sweetness and less saltiness, sweet soy sauce resembles the taste of dark brown sugar. It also has a slightly thicker and more viscous texture, adding a luscious glaze to dishes. However, sweet soy sauce is unsuitable for keto cooking due to its high sugar content. If you're following a low-carb lifestyle, avoid it to stay on track with your goals.
Dark soy sauce
As the name suggests, dark soy sauce has a richer, deeper color and is less sweet than its counterparts. It boasts a flavor similar to molasses, contributing a robust taste to dishes. Beyond its role as a flavor enhancer, it is often used to darken the color of sauces and give them a nice appeal.
Light soy sauce
On the lighter side, we have light soy sauce, an all-purpose cooking companion. It has a milder taste than darker varieties and is known for its thinner consistency. Light soy sauce works wonders in general cooking, adding that delightful umami essence to a wide array of dishes without overpowering them.
Gluten-free substitutions for soy sauce
Regarding gluten-free alternatives for soy sauce, the culinary world offers some fantastic options. Let's explore the top three substitutes that cater to gluten-sensitive diets and low-carb lifestyles:
Tamari is simply traditional soy sauce with the wheat removed. This is easily found in most health food stores or any market with a large Asian section or is available online. This is your best soy sauce substitute if you follow a strict gluten-free diet! It's also sugar-free, making it a great choice for cooking!
You can directly substitute this in recipes that call for soy sauce, and there should be minimal taste differences based on the brand you select. Brands usually maintain a similar ingredient ratio to avoid any noticeable absence of flavors due to the absence of wheat. This is our consistent choice for all our keto recipes.
Coconut Aminos function similarly to soy sauce, but they're derived from coconut palm sap, not soy. This keto-friendly soy sauce alternative is gluten-free and offers more flavor than tamari. A few drops add saltiness and a hint of sweetness due to its fermentation process, which transforms some natural sugars into soy sauce-like amino acids.
However, Coconut Aminos are pricier, about 5 times more per tablespoon than regular soy sauce or tamari. Also, they contain extra sugar, contributing almost 10 grams of net carbs to recipes like low-carb teriyaki. While we don't use coconut aminos in our recipes, it's worth noting if you avoid soy.
You may have seen Bragg liquid Aminos at the market and wondered what they are. Liquid Aminos is a combination of soy and water with added enzymes. We don't use liquid aminos, but they are gluten-free and tolerable for a low-carb diet.
Key things to look for when choosing a soy sauce for a keto diet
Ready to find the perfect soy sauce for your keto diet? Fear not, we've got you covered! Keep these essential factors in mind when choosing soy sauce:
Wrap-up: Is soy sauce keto?
Yes, soy sauce is indeed keto-friendly and can be enjoyed in keto recipes if you use it smartly. From the rich dark soy sauce to the gluten-free options like tamari and coconut Aminos, we've discovered a world of tasty possibilities for our keto cooking. We use tamari 100% of the time since it's gluten-free and exactly like regular soy sauce in taste and texture.