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Is Surstromming Keto-Friendly?

Surstromming on a kitchen counter

Is Surstromming Keto-Friendly? This is a question that has piqued the curiosity of many, given the unique culinary presence of Surstromming.

In the realm of ketogenic diets, where carb limitations and food choices play a pivotal role, understanding the compatibility of Surstromming is crucial.

While this flavorful food item has its admirers, the ketogenic guidelines paint a more complex picture.

On a keto diet, Surstromming is not outright forbidden but permitted only in very moderate amounts under strict portion controls.In the following sections, we delve into the carbohydrate content of Surstromming, its impact on a keto diet, and feasible substitutes, providing a comprehensive picture of where Surstromming stands in a keto-diet context.


  • Surstromming, though unique in taste, is not the best fit for a ketogenic diet due to its high carbohydrate content. Yet, with strict portion control, it can be included in minimal amounts.
  • Overindulging in Surstromming could increase the risk of 'keto flu,' a condition that can occur when the body is transitioning into ketosis.
  • Despite its flavor, frequent consumption of Surstromming could derail your ketosis journey due to its carb content.

Is Surstromming Keto-Friendly?

Let's get straight to the heart of the matter. Can you have Surstromming on a keto diet? The short answer is yes, but with a significant caveat — it must be in very limited portions due to its carbohydrate content.

To fully understand this, let's break down the nutritional profile of Surstromming. This pungent Swedish fish boasts 7.49g of net carbs per 100g. While this might not seem like much at first glance, remember that a typical keto diet restricts daily carb intake to under 50g, with many individuals aiming for less than 20g.

Given this, it's clear that even a small serving of Surstromming, if not cautiously controlled, could represent a significant portion of your daily carb allowance. This is important as consuming too many carbs can potentially lead your body out of that sought-after state of ketosis, the metabolic state where your body uses fat instead of carbohydrates as its primary energy source.

Additionally, it's not just about the carbs. A balanced ketogenic diet also emphasizes a high intake of fats and a moderate intake of protein. A 100g portion of Surstromming provides about 17g of protein and about 14g of fat. While these numbers make Surstromming seem like a suitable keto food, the relatively high carb content for a keto diet can't be ignored.

Can Surstromming be Incorporated into a Strict Keto Diet?

Attempting to incorporate Surstromming into a strict keto diet can be a bit of a balancing act. As we've touched on earlier, Surstromming's relatively high carbohydrate content of 7.49g per 100g can quickly eat into your daily carb limit on a strict keto diet. Therefore, the question isn't so much 'Can you?' but 'Should you?'

Embracing a strict keto lifestyle means being conscious and careful about your carb intake. Every bite matters. Including Surstromming in your diet means you must exercise tight portion control and balance it with other low-carb, high-fat foods to maintain your macro nutrient ratios.

However, it's essential to note that regular consumption of Surstromming is not generally recommended on a strict keto diet due to its carb content. It could potentially be enjoyed as an occasional treat, but it would require careful planning and a keen understanding of your daily carb intake.

If you are intent on incorporating Surstromming into your strict keto diet, consider using a meal tracking app or a food diary to keep track of your daily carb intake. These tools can help ensure that you maintain your carb limit even with the inclusion of Surstromming.

Delving into the Carbohydrate Content of Surstromming

Let's take a closer look at the cardiovascular content of Surstromming that makes it a challenging inclusion in a keto diet.

As mentioned, Surstromming contains 7.49g of net carbs per 100g. Now, when we talk about 'net carbs,' we're referring to the total carbohydrates in a food minus the fiber. This is significant for individuals on a keto diet because, while fiber is technically a carb, it isn't absorbed or digested the same way other carbs are. Thus, it doesn't impact blood sugar levels and can be subtracted from total carbs when calculating net carbs.

But why do these net carbs matter so much on a keto diet? The ketogenic diet functions on the principle of getting your body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of carbs. To achieve this, it's essential to limit your daily carb intake seriously. With a typical daily carb limit of under 50g for many keto dieters, you can see how even a small portion of Surstromming could have a significant impact.

For instance, if you were to eat a 200g serving of Surstromming, you'd be consuming almost 15g of net carbs, which is a considerable chunk of your daily carb allowance. On the flip side, a smaller 50g serving of Surstromming would provide you with approximately 3.75g of net carbs. While this is much more manageable, it still requires careful consideration and balance with the rest of your meals for the day.

Nutritional Snapshot of Surstromming

Surstromming, a uniquely flavored Swedish delicacy, presents a fascinating nutritional profile. A 100g sample of Surstromming reveals a balance of macronutrients: it contains 7.49g of net carbs, 14.32g of total fats, and a robust 20.1g of protein. It’s worth noting that the fats are not just any fats. The sample contains 3.4g of saturated fats, 5.53g of monounsaturated fats, and 3.67g of polyunsaturated fats. These unsaturated fats are known for their healthful properties, such as promoting heart health.

As for micronutrients, Surstromming is a notable source of several essential vitamins and minerals. It provides a good quantity of Vitamin B-12 (12.91ug), essential for nerve function and the production of red blood cells. It also contains Vitamin A (47.0ug), important for vision and immune function, and Vitamin E (1.74mg), known for its antioxidant properties.

In terms of minerals, Surstromming does not fall short. It contains sodium (357.0mg) and potassium (359.0mg), both of which contribute to maintaining fluid balance. Other minerals found include calcium (70.0mg) for bone health, iron (1.74mg) for oxygen transport, and zinc (1.14mg) for immune function and wound healing.

Considering other elements, Surstromming includes beneficial compounds like beta-carotene (9.0ug) and lutein + zeaxanthin (7.0ug), which are known for their eye health benefits. It also contains choline (73.0mg), a nutrient that aids in various metabolic processes.

Nutrient NameAmount and Unit per 100g
Net Carbs 7.49g
Carbohydrate, by difference 7.79g
Fiber, total dietary 0.3g
Total fats 14.32g
Protein 20.1g
Sodium, Na 357.0mg
Potassium, K 359.0mg
Magnesium, Mg 37.0mg
Calcium, Ca 70.0mg
Vitamin A 47.0ug
Vitamin B-6 0.32mg
Vitamin B-12 12.91ug
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 0.6mg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 1.74mg
Vitamin K1 4.2ug
Copper, Cu 0.12mg
Iron, Fe 1.74mg
Phosphorus, P 263.0mg
Selenium, Se 40.3ug
Zinc, Zn 1.14mg
Cholesterol 71.0mg
Beta-carotene 9.0ug
Lutein + zeaxanthin 7.0ug
Thiamin 0.18mg
Riboflavin 0.28mg
Niacin 4.05mg
Folate, total 26.0ug
Choline, total 73.0mg
Folic acid 13.0ug
Retinol 46.0ug
Calories 245.0kcal
Water 56.02g
Fatty acids, total saturated 3.4g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 5.53g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 3.67g
This data was provided by the US Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central system.
'Surstromming' was not found in FoodData Central, so nutritional data for 'Fish, herring' was used instead under Cast Iron Keto's editorial and research standards.

Health Implications of Surstromming on a Keto Diet

Consuming Surstromming while following a keto diet can present several challenges that may impact your health and wellness journey.

First up, there's the risk of surpassing your daily carb limit which could potentially disrupt your metabolic state of ketosis. Remember, the ultimate goal of a keto diet is to have your body burn fats for energy instead of carbs. Consuming a food item with a relatively high carb content like Surstromming could make it more challenging to maintain this state, especially if portion sizes aren't strictly controlled.

Beyond its carb content, there are other aspects of Surstromming to consider. On the plus side, Surstromming is a source of protein, which can be beneficial on a keto diet. Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair and can help keep you feeling fuller longer.

Also, Surstromming contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their heart health benefits. However, while omega-3s are a type of fat and fats are encouraged on a keto diet, the balance of macronutrients in Surstromming leans more towards protein and carbs than fats.

Lastly, Surstromming's strong taste and aroma—resulting from its fermentation process—might not be palatable to everyone. This might not seem like a health implication, but enjoyment of food is an important aspect of sticking to any diet long term.

Importance of Limiting Surstromming in Your Keto Meal Plan

Striking a balance with Surstromming in your keto meal plan can seem like walking a tightrope — it's all about portion control and understanding its impact on your overall carb intake.

Now, you might be thinking, 'How can I even begin to limit Surstromming in my food?' Well, there are a few practical ways to go about this. One approach is to use Surstromming as a flavor enhancer rather than a main component of your meal. A small amount can lend a unique taste to your dishes without significantly adding to your carb count.

For instance, you could whip up a keto-friendly salad and top it with a small serving of Surstromming. Or, how about creating a Surstromming infused keto-friendly cream sauce to pair with a low-carb veggie stir-fry? The possibilities can be as creative as your culinary mind allows, with the constant being a tight control on the portion of Surstromming.

Another key point to remember is the importance of balancing Surstromming with other foods in your diet. Balancing a small portion of Surstromming with high-fat, low-carb foods can help you maintain your macro ratios and stay in ketosis.

It's also crucial to reiterate that consuming too much Surstromming—and consequently too many carbs—can potentially lead to what's known as the 'keto flu.' This is a group of symptoms, including headache, fatigue, and nausea, that can occur as your body adjusts to a dramatic decrease in carb intake. Maintaining a balanced, well-managed keto diet can help you avoid this.

Keto-Compatible Alternatives for Surstromming

If you're on a keto diet and looking for alternatives to Surstromming that align better with your carb limit, there are several excellent options.

One of the most favorable seafood choices for a keto diet is salmon. It's not only low in carbs but also packed with healthy fats. A 100g serving of salmon contains virtually no carbs and about 13g of fat, making it an excellent choice for maintaining ketosis. You could use salmon in a keto-friendly salad, or grill it with a buttery, garlic sauce for a perfect keto dinner.

For a white fish option, consider cod. It's a protein-rich, virtually zero-carb food, with only 0.7g of carbs per 100g serving. Cod can be baked, grilled, or pan-fried with a variety of low-carb veggies and a drizzle of olive oil to make a nourishing keto meal.

Another seafood option could be shrimp. With a net carb amount of only 1g per 100g serving, shrimp is an excellent keto-friendly alternative that provides a different flavor profile than Surstromming. Shrimp can be used in a variety of dishes, like a zesty keto shrimp and cauliflower rice dish or a creamy shrimp and spinach saute.

Concluding Thoughts on Surstromming and Keto

Throughout our examination of Surstromming and its place in a keto diet, we've uncovered some key insights.

Surstromming, while a unique and flavorful food item, has a relatively high carbohydrate content that poses a challenge for those adhering to a strict ketogenic diet. The risk of surpassing your daily carb limit by consuming Surstromming, and thus disrupting the metabolic state of ketosis, is a significant concern.

The need for strict portion control and careful balancing of Surstromming with other low-carb, high-fat foods is essential to maintain ketosis. However, given its carb content, it's generally recommended to limit or avoid Surstromming on a keto diet.

To tackle this, we discussed various ways to reduce Surstromming in a keto diet, from using it sparingly as a flavor enhancer to exploring keto-friendly alternatives like salmon, cod, or shrimp.

Uniquely, one idea to consider is the gradual reduction of Surstromming in your diet. Instead of eliminating it at once, you could gradually decrease the portion size over time to let your palate adjust to other keto-friendly seafood alternatives. This approach could make the transition easier and more sustainable.

Cast Iron Keto's Editorial and Research Standards

Certain rare or exotic food items may not have nutritional profiles in the FoodData Central database. If an exact match is not found in the FoodData Central database, then, the Cast Iron Keto team utilizes a three-prong approach to provide readers with the closest relevant nutritional data, where possible.

First, in the event that nutritional profiles for a rare or exotic food item is not available in the FoodData Central database, we investigate alternative names for that particular food item and use that data, when possible. Second, in cases where no alternate names exist, Cast Iron Keto will use nutritional data for a close relative or similar food item. Finally, if no close relatives or similar items exist, we refrain from publishing nutrient data tables.

When making dietary or health decisions based on FoodData Central's data, we suggest readers consult with a nutritionist or other health experts, particularly if the food in question has a significant role in your diet or if you are using the food item to treat any health disorder(s).

Furthermore, it is important to note that even if a close relative or similar item is used to approximate the nutritional data, different food items can have varying levels of nutrients due to factors such as soil quality, farming practices, and regional differences.


The information on this website is only intended to be general summary information for public use, designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. This information does not replace written law or regulations, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions about a medical condition or are seeking to evaluate the health merits of certain food items for the treatment of any medical condition, you should seek the advice of a doctor or other qualified health professionals.

The views expressed at, or through, Cast Iron Keto are for informational purposes only. Cast Iron Keto cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. While we use reasonable efforts to include accurate and up-to-date information, we make no warranties as to the accuracy of the content and assume no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this website are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content on this posting is provided "as is;" no representations are made that the content is error-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Though Surstromming has a unique flavor, its higher carbohydrate content means it should be consumed in very moderate amounts under strict portion control when following a ketogenic diet. Overconsumption can lead to an increase in your daily carb intake, and potentially disrupt ketosis.