If there are two foods I fondly remember eating growing up, they’d have to be spam and vienna sausages. Naturally, when I started a ketogenic diet, I had wondered If both were ok on a keto diet a.k.a keto friendly, and this is what I found.
Both spam and spam lite fit macro wise on a keto diet. A single serving of spam and spam lite has 1 gram of net carbs, while the entire can contains 6 grams of net carbohydrates. Most other spam varieties are higher in carbohydrates but generally still low carb.
- Want to try some of the different varieties of SPAM? Check the latest prices for a SPAM assortment pack here.
In this article, I’ll go over whether you should or shouldn’t eat spam while following a ketogenic diet, what it’s made of, the health (or not so healthy benefits), and even some keto-friendly spam recipes.
Can You Eat Spam On Keto?
A misconception about the ketogenic diet is that foods are either keto or not keto. The reality is that keto is not a particular food but a metabolic state which occurs during periods of carbohydrate restriction.
Therefore, so long as you stay under your personal threshold of carbohydrates, you can eat just about anything while following a ketogenic diet. The poison is in the dose, not the food itself.
Stay low carb and you should be ok on a keto diet.
Of course, some foods are more keto “friendly” than others, and spam happens to be one of them. So is spam keto? I guess you could say it is. Spam is low carb with very few net carbs per serving.
Spam is, in fact, a keto-friendly food since it only has 1 gram of total carbohydrates per serving, but if you decide to indulge in the entire can, then it has 6 grams of net carbs.
However, if you’re privy enough to have access to the different varieties of spam, you should check the nutrition label to ensure that a particular variety is low carb and fits within your daily carbohydrate budget.
Almost all spam is keto friendly, but some others have more carbs than others, which I'll dive into in the next section.
How Many Carbohydrates Are In Spam?
With the popularity of spam spanning the globe, many people don’t realize there are over a dozen flavors and varieties of the popular canned meat.
Here is a table with all of the different amounts of net carbs in each variety of spam per serving and per can
- SPAM Classic 1g / 6g
- SPAM Lite 1g / 6g
- SPAM Less Sodium 1g / 6g
- SPAM With Bacon 1g / 6g
- SPAM Oven Roasted Turkey 1g / 6g
- SPAM Hickory Smoke 1g / 6g
- SPAM Hot and Spicy 2g / 12g
- SPAM Jalapeno 2g / 12g
- SPAM Teriyaki 5g / 30g
- SPAM Black Pepper 2g / 12g
- SPAM Chorizo 2g / 12g
- SPAM Portugese Sausage 1g/ 6g
- SPAM Tocino 7g / 42g
- SPAM Garlic 1g / 6g
- SPAM Cheese 1g / 6g
- SPAM Mezclita 2g/ 12g
- SPAM Spread 1g / 2g
In particular, the most significant carbohydrate varieties are the teriyaki and spam tocino with 5g and 7g of carbs, respectively. The rest of the spam variations only contain 1 or 2 grams of carbohydrates, which is low carb enough, making them them all relatively keto friendly.
What Is Spam Made Of?
The original spam has these listed ingredients:
- Pork with ham
- Modified Potato Starch
- Sodium Nitrate
Depending on the variety or the can, ingredients can differ slightly as I’ve seen a label of the original spam with slightly varied ingredients. These ingredients come directly from the spam website, so perhaps they’ve changed to a less is more mentality.
In either case, they are all based around the same key ingredients, mainly pork with ham, but the latest iteration has what I would consider less and a “cleaner” ingredient list.
Note: Modified potato starch is a very minor component of spam and doesn't contribute a significant amount of carbohydrates.
Is Spam Healthy Or Bad For You?
No foods are inherently good or bad for your health, because too much of anything is never good.
However, there may be one particular ingredient in spam that may cause concern to some individuals, and that is sodium nitrate.
Sodium nitrate is a preservative used in many processed types of meat to extend its shelf life.
The cause of concern when it comes to nitrates is because they been demonized in the news and that maybe for a good reason.
Some research suggests that excessive consumption of sodium nitrate may be linked to diseases such as heart disease and certain types of cancers. 1 2
However, to counterbalance that, there is also a study that suggests dietary supplements of inorganic nitrate can reduce blood pressure. 3
The best thing you can do is consume any products that contain nitrates in moderation, which includes spam.
What Are Some Good Ways To Eat Spam
I keep things pretty simple when it comes to my cooking. When I eat spam, I like to enjoy a few slices with eggs for breakfast or dinner on top of a bowl of cauliflower rice.
However, if you’re looking to get a bit more creative in the kitchen, here are a few keto friendly spam recipes to try out.
One Ingredient Spam Fries
Yupp, the only ingredient here is SPAM! Made by chopping the SPAM into sticks and baking them until golden.
Hawaiian Garlic Spam Music In A Bowl
You may have heard of keto egg roll in a bowl, well, this is spam musubi in a bowl.
Spam music is one of my favorite indulgences when dining at a Hawaiian establishment, but when trying to keep it keto or low carb, this is a good alternative.
Thai Spam Lettuce Cups
Not sure why this is called Thai Spam Lettuce Cups, but let’s run with it. While lettuce cups or wraps can be a good option for any ground meat, spam makes a surprisingly good filler.
Where Can You Buy Spam?
Spam is available at nearly every local grocery store you can think of.
However, the different spam varieties may be hard to find and only available in specialty stores or online.
- Want to try some of the different varieties of SPAM? Check the latest prices for a SPAM assortment pack here.
Randomness About Spam
Did you know there is a spam museum?
Crazy right? I made a trip to the spam museum located in Austin, Minnesota, when making my way out to the area to visit a friend who happened to live in Minneapolis.
Spam is also considered the national food of Hawaii (not really, but kind of)
Considered the “Hawaiian steak,” you can find spam in fast food places such as McDonald’s or Burger King while traveling to Hawaii. They also have an annual Spam Jam to celebrate all things SPAM
Spam is a shortened version of spiced ham.
And another not so random fact(s), spam is a great keto friendly or low carb snack that you can quickly pan-fry, eat out of the can, or take on road trips since it’s non-perishable.
I don’t know what it is, but I’m definitely a fan of spam. If you’re looking for something similar or an alternative to spam, you may want to try vienna sausages.
Alternatives To Spam
To be quite honest with you, there is no real “alternative” to spam. The closest food product that may be similar is vienna sausages.
However, amongst the different spams, many may opt for the oven roasted turkey on keto. Spam oven roasted turkey ingredients are white turkey, turkey broth, salt, modified potato starch, sugar, dextrose, and sodium, nitrate.
This variety has less sodium and fat, fewer calories, and more protein than classic spam meat. Therefore, some individuals feel this may be the “healthiest” form of spam.
So is spam keto friendly? The original, along with many varieties of spam are keto-friendly and low-carb. On average most types of spam only have 1 gram of net carbs in a serving or 6 grams of net carbohydrates per can.
Spam is low carb with very few net carbs per serving. Spam is, in fact, a keto-friendly food since it only has 1 gram of total carbohydrates per serving, but if you decide to indulge in the entire can, then it has 6 grams of net carbs.
One two-ounce (56-gram) serving of Spam contains (1): Calories: 174. Protein: 7 grams. Carbs: 2 grams.
- Fish and seafood.
- Low-carb veggies.
- Nuts, seeds and healthful oils.
- Plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.
Thankfully, there are many alternatives to Spam available if you're looking for a lower-fat substitute. These include pork roll, potted meat, scrapple, jambon, and tofu – all of which can offer the same high protein content without any unhealthy ingredients.
Spam Bacon is low in net carbs but it should still be avoided on keto because it contains unhealthy ingredients like sugar, sodium nitrate, and dextrose. Dirty Keto is a common label for low-carb foods with unhealthy ingredients.
SPAM is an acronym: Special Processed American Meat.
It may come as a pleasant surprise to learn that SPAM is not the preservative-packed mystery meat you might think it is. In fact, SPAM only contains six ingredients! And the brand's website lists them all. They are: pork with ham meat added (that counts as one), salt, water, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrite.
Yes. Bologna is keto-friendly due to its low carb content (~1-2g net carb per slice). Since we get carbohydrates from plant-based foods, any meat in its natural form is about as keto-friendly as it gets. That's why so many ketoers pick up a bunch of grass-fed steaks and chicken at the beginning of their diet.
Solution: Eat More Fatty and Nutrient-Dense Foods
One of the keys to not feeling hungry on keto is to eat more nutrient dense foods. Foods high in all nutrients including fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals include: Keto meats like ribeye steak, lamb, and pork. Fatty fish like mackerel, anchovies, salmon.
- Avocados. Though avocados are often referred to and used as a vegetable, they're biologically considered a fruit. ...
- Watermelon. Watermelon is a flavorful and hydrating fruit that's easy to add to a ketogenic diet. ...
- Strawberries. ...
- Lemons. ...
- Tomatoes. ...
- Raspberries. ...
- Peaches. ...
Really, on a keto diet, you can eat as many eggs as you can stand! Again, just be sure to keep your calorie count and macronutrient ratio in check, particularly if weight loss is a motivating factor.
While spam does only contain only 1 gram of carbs per serving, spam should be limited on keto because it does contain ingredients like modified potato starch, sodium nitrate and sugar which are not foods that are recommended on keto.
The tiny western Pacific island of Guam is known mainly for its U.S. military outpost; but it's also far and away the world's largest consumer of Spam. After the majority of the U.S. military force that occupied Guam during World War II left, the canned, preserved meat the soldiers ate stayed put.
So yes, there is a difference between ham and spam. Spam contains more calories, more fat, and less protein. But the difference isn't as severe as expected, especially considering that you can get 340g of Spam for $3.48 before taxes and I paid the same amount yesterday for 100g of Black Forest ham at Choices.
Another popular keto recipe is Spam fries. Just cut the Spam into long thin pieces and fry them up in a pan!
Peanut butter can definitely be part of a keto diet, but it's best to stick to plain options that are free of extra flavors and sweeteners. Almond butter is a good choice, too, and it's slightly lower in carbs. Additionally, you should be mindful of your portion size if you're trying to lose weight.
The ketogenic diet typically reduces total carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams a day—less than the amount found in a medium plain bagel—and can be as low as 20 grams a day. Generally, popular ketogenic resources suggest an average of 70-80% fat from total daily calories, 5-10% carbohydrate, and 10-20% protein.
Hawaii consumes more Spam per capita than any other state, with five cans eaten per person per year—about 7 million cans total—according to Nicole L. Behne, a Spam senior product manager. It's time for the rest of America to catch up with Hawaii.
Since spam has no expiration date, it can go for many years without spoiling. The only thing that will be affected is its quality and taste. However, poor storage, exposure to high temperatures and dents in the can will cause spam to spoil faster.
The true root of the island's love for SPAM® products goes back to World War II, when the luncheon meat was served to GIs. By the end of the war, SPAM® products were adopted into local culture, with Fried SPAM® Classic and rice becoming a popular meal.
Most spam is irritating and time-consuming, but some spam is positively dangerous to handle. Usually email scams are trying to get you to give up your bank details so that the fraudsters can either withdraw money, or steal your identity. Such messages include phishing scams and advanced fee fraud.
It is precooked before it gets canned. Since all canned foods are pasteurized during the canning process, spam is safe to eat. Therefore, you can eat it directly from the can, but the smell of just opened tin can be a little unbearable. 1 Is Eating Raw Spam Bad for Me?
Meats such as beef, poultry, fish, and seafood—cured meats such as sausage, ham, and hot dogs that are rich in fats and without artificial ingredients are keto-approved.
This is a keto favorite, thanks to its nutritional profile: Per the USDA, 1 oz contains 84 calories, 8 g of fat, 1 g of carbs, and 2 g of protein. That means it's a great addition to a meal or snack when you need more fat.
- Corned beef.
- Head cheese.
Fortunately, SPAM® Less Sodium is not one of those things. It provides the same delicious SPAM® Classic flavor with 25% less sodium. There's no sacrifice with this meat treat! Limited availability in stores.
Well, there is corned beef, but it looks just like the other SPAM cans, and it is a product of the USA. This site is about the 12 ounce box shaped canned meat products known colloquially as "SPAM", or on the label as "luncheon meat" or "luncheon loaf".
Treet (Armour Star Treet) is a canned meat product similar to Spam first introduced in 1939 by Armour and Company in the United States. Sold as "spiced luncheon loaf", it is made with chicken and pork and has a more finely ground texture than Spam, more akin to bologna or vienna sausages.
The ingredients label lists the pork content of spam as 89%, and the other five ingredients make up the remaining 11%. Key Point: Spam is a popular processed meat product made from pork.