Coconut Aminos vs. Soy Sauce on Keto

Imge of Coconut Aminos vs. Soy Sauce on Keto



In this article we will contrast and compare the profiles of soy sauce and its popular alternative, coconut aminos. This is an important topic to explore, given that it plays a dominant role in Asian cuisines.

Among the variables to be compared are nutrition, health, taste, texture, and affordability. We will also conclude by stating which sauce is most suitable for those of you adhering to a keto-friendly diet.


Coconut aminos: what are they?

We all know that the coconut palm produces coconuts, those hairy, heavy duty fruit often associated with an exotic vacation!

What not all of us know is that before the development of the fruit itself, the tree produces blossoms. We can tap into the stems of these flowers to extract the sap. The sap is then processed by blending with sea salt and subjected to a fermentation process to create coconut aminos.

This product is reported to have a salty and sweet flavor to it with a buttery finish. It is used as a condiment in cooking and often as a soy-free replacement for soy sauce.


Soy sauce: what is this?

Soy sauce is a condiment widely used in Asian and American cuisines. It originated in ancient China. It consists of mixing crushed soya beans with wheat and then subjecting this compound to a fermentation process by mold and yeast organisms in a salt water bath. This process can take between 6 months and a year.


Coconut aminos vs. soy sauce nutrition facts

(per 1 tbsp)
Coconut aminos Soy sauce
Energy 35 kcal 8 kcal
Fat 0 g 0.1 g
Protein 0 g 1.3 g
Net carbs 9 g 0.7 g
Total carbs 9 g 0.8 g
Fiber 0 g 0.1 g


In terms of vitamins and minerals, the information available for coconut aminos is very sparse and insufficient to make an objective comparison with soy sauce. Soy sauce, on the other hand, does contain  small amounts of potassium and some magnesium and iron.

As both these items contain salt as a base ingredient, let’s compare the salt content. Per 100 g of product, on average soy sauce contains 13.7 g of salt! This far exceeds the safe limits for salt consumption per day. Conversely, per 100 g of coconut aminos, there is 9.83 g of salt. While lower than it’s soy-based counterpart, this is still excessive.

Since these products are condiments, you should only be consuming a tablespoon or two as your serving size. For each tablespoon, soy sauce has about 0.7 net carbs, while coconut aminos have about 9 net carbs, as you can see in the chart above.

Additionally, be aware that the method of processing of these products as well as the actual ingredients therein can vary greatly so always check the labels carefully to ascertain if the product is keto-compliant.


Differences between coconut aminos and soy sauce

There are a few things to consider when comparing these two items:

  • Price and availability - soy sauce is distributed and sold ubiquitously throughout the world. It is also mostly affordable. Coconut aminos are far more expensive and are also not widely available in regular stores.
  • Taste - Some people say that coconut aminos have a sweet taste and do not imitate the taste of soy sauce to an acceptable degree. Others say it is a bit milder but has a similar flavor to light soy sauce. So don’t expect them to taste exactly the same. Also, remember that each brand will vary in its exact ingredients, which may have an impact on flavor. Being vigilant and looking at labels carefully is key.
  • Ingredients - Soy sauce obviously has soy beans in it, either whole and mashed beans or just a protein isolate. This has a distinct flavor which might not be agreeable to all. Coconut aminos do not contain any soy, which is an advantage if you have an allergy. 
  • Health - before delving into which is healthier, it is important to remember that as this is a condiment, you are unlikely to consume in large amounts. That being said, it would seem that soy sauce has a better overall profile as it contains over 8 g of protein per 100 g as well as some fiber. Coconut aminos, however, have zero protein and zero fiber. The only nutritional variable that aminos trump soy sauce is with regards to salt content, as explained above. However, it is still very high in salt and must be eaten in moderation, which shouldn't be too hard as it’s just a condiment.


What to use coconut aminos and soy sauce for

  • Soy - this sauce works excellently as a salad dressing and as a glaze for pan-fried or roasted meats and fish. It’s also commonly used as a marinade for meats. It is used in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other Asian cuisines to a great extent, chiefly responsible for the umami flavor therein.
  • Coconut aminos -  since this is a substitute for soy sauce, it can also be used for all the above. In addition it works well in sauteed foods, fried rice, and even soups.


Which one is better for a ketogenic diet?

Based on the nutritional information provided above, it would seem that the more keto-friendly option would be the soy sauce. This is because it contains only 4.1 g of net carbs per 100 g. This is due to the low-carb content of soybeans as well as the modest fiber content, which helps drive down the net carbs.

On the other hand, coconut aminos have a rather costly net carb figure of 20 g per 100 g.

Now it is true that as a condiment you are unlikely to consume large amounts in one sitting, but ultimately, the number tilt in the favor of soy sauce for keto. Even having only one tablespoon of coconut aminos can set you back 9 g of net carbs, which is equivalent to almost 2 teaspoons of sugar.


Final thoughts

After having discussed in detail the profiles of these two products let us conclude with a take-home message. Soy sauce is an intrinsic part of Asian cooking as well as other cuisines, with some using coconut aminos as a substitute. We have also discovered that soy is better for keto due to its lower net carb content.

However, two points must be reiterated, there is large variability between brands and even within the same brand, so always read the label. This is due to different methodologies of preparation. Remember that to calculate net carbs you need to subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrates.

Secondly, both options are high in salt, so please consume in moderation.