Sugar is everywhere. And we mean everywhere. That sneaky ingredient is on the prowl and ready to sabotage your Keto lifestyle.
As a nation, we’ve developed a sugar addiction: the average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) every day (CDC). Why? Because sugar makes us feel good. Not because it’s good for us, but because it stimulates dopamine (that feel-good hormone) production in the brain. This creates a literal addiction that causes us to crave, gives us a high, and leaves us to crash.
But don’t blame yourself for your sugar cravings. Over the years, hidden sugars have been creeping into places you’d least expect them. Fat was originally thought of as the culprit in the obesity crisis, leading many brands to cut fat from their foods and add sugar to make up for the loss in taste. As fat consumption decreased, sugar consumption increased – causing a simultaneous spike in diabetes and obesity (National Geographic).
As a Keto-er, you already know the power of fat and the danger of sugar. But you might not be aware of just how prevalent sugar has become in a wide variety of grocery staples. As a result, keeping your sugar consumption low takes more than just avoiding the obvious culprits like breads, cookies, and candy.
Here are a few places where sugars love to hide:
Condiments: When you’re trying to spice up those leafy greens, be wary of salad dressings, ketchups, and other condiments. The good news? It’s really easy to make your own dressings and condiments using oils, herbs, and full-fat creams
Yogurt: Full-fat Greek yogurt is an awesome Keto treat, but flavored Greek yogurts (especially the fruity ones) can have tons of sugar. Opt for the plain, full fat yogurt and add Keto-friendly fruits (like raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries) yourself
Tomato Sauce: If you dream of a low-carb chicken parmesan, know that tomato sauce off the shelf can have as much as 10 grams of sugar per half cup serving. It can be almost impossible to find a sugar free tomato sauce at the store, so your safest bet is to either make it yourself or opt for a drizzle of olive oil with fresh garlic
Alcohol Mixers: The good news about Keto is that alcohol is not off-limits. The bad news is that you have to watch out for sugar-packed mixers. Standard margarita mix can have as much as 24 grams of sugar, while tonic can have as much as 32 grams of sugar! Sip your hard liquor straight or choose a sugar-free option like club soda
Nut Milks: For our lactose intolerant Keto pals, nut milks can be a tasty, low carb alternative – just be sure to choose the unsweetened variety and be wary of anything flavored. Sweetened almond milk can have as much as 14 grams of carbs and 13 grams of sugar!
Protein Powders: Protein and meal replacement shakes play a prominent role in the Keto diet, but they can be hiding a lot of sugar. Our Ketolent shakes are delicious, satisfying, and designed for Keto with only 1 gram of sugar and 3 grams of net carbs per serving (Vanilla).
Jerky and Bacon: These are some handy protein treats, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find either of these in-store without sugar. Brown sugar, cane syrup, maple syrup are a few of the usual suspects lurking in both bacon and jerky. There are a few paleo-friendly store brands sans sugar, just be sure to read the label. Also, consider biltong as a jerky alternative. Biltong is a minimally processed, flavorful, air-dried meat.
Soups: During the winter, there’s nothing like a piping hot bowl of soup. However, canned, pre-made, and powdered soup options can be hiding tons of sugar – even in soups without all the carb-heavy the fixings. Bone broth is a fantastic Keto alternative that can bridge the gap between what you want and what you need.
If you’ve noticed a theme, it’s this: read the label and/or make it yourself. Food companies have an incentive to add sugar to their foods – it makes their products tastier and more addictive, thus increasing the chance that you’ll feel compelled to purchase again. There are many companies who make convenient and delicious products without added sugars, but they just take a little bit of diligence to find.
Knowing is half battle. Now it’s up to you to take charge of the foods in your life.