Is Mayo Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Bridget Nalwoga, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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When you think about mayo, it is hard not to daydream about its rich, creamy, salty taste. It elevates any dish it is added to. Whether it is a BLT, burger, fries, or coleslaw, mayonnaise is a simple way to boost the taste and add that unique flavor. 

Mayonnaise is not known for its wonderful health benefits, but it can most certainly be a part of a healthy balanced diet. The key to using it well is choosing healthy foods to add it to. 

However, adding it to a ketogenic diet is not always simple. Other factors, most importantly carb content, have to be taken into account when choosing foods on a low-carb diet. Today, we talk about mayo, its nutrition, how it fits on a ketogenic diet, and some keto-friendly replacements. 


What is mayo?

Mayo is a cold, thick sauce used in savory dishes. It is made from mixing an acid, an oil, and an emulsifier to keep the two from separating. 

The acids most commonly used are vinegar or lemon juice. There is a wide variety of oils that can be used. Most brands on the market use soybean oil, but other types like avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil, and vegetable oil can also be used. 

Egg yolks are used in regular mayonnaise as the emulsifier or thickening agent. Plant-based varieties use other sources of protein, like pea protein, as an emulsifier. By law, you cannot label your sauce as mayonnaise if it doesn’t contain eggs. This is why we have words like Vegenaise or vegan mayo.   

Mayonnaise is believed to have originated from France or Spain in the late 18th century. It is now eaten all over the world as a spread, dip, and salad dressing. It can be used on dishes like sandwiches, burgers, French fries, and, most notably, coleslaw. 

Mayo is so popular that it beats tomato ketchup as the most eaten condiment in the United States. 


Mayo nutrition facts

Mayo is almost 100% fat and not much else. On the standard diet, this may not be good news, but it is excellent for keto! 

Serving size: 13 g of Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise. Equal to about 1 US tablespoon.

  • Calories: 90 Kcal
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Net carbs: 0 g
  • Total carbs: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Sodium: 90 mg
  • Cholesterol: 4.94 mg 

From the nutrition information above, we see there are zero carbs in mayo. The same goes for protein. It does contain a significant amount of sodium and cholesterol. 

Remember, this information is only for real mayonnaise made with oil, eggs, and vinegar. Other types like low-fat products might contain ingredients like thickeners and starches to give that thick creamy consistency. 

Vegan options also have many more ingredients in them that may render them non-ketogenic. Don’t forget to check the label before adding a jar to your cart.

 

JUMPSTART YOUR KETO GOALS

 

Can you have mayo on keto?

Yes, mayonnaise is keto-friendly and ok to eat on this diet. 

It is an ideal ketogenic food. It has 0 g of carbs, meaning you can have endless amounts without worrying about crossing your carb limit. 

But that doesn’t mean you should eat it by the truckload. 

While very ketogenic, it is also very calorie-dense. If you are on the ketogenic diet for weight loss, you may have to limit or eliminate the condiment from your diet. Practice portion control to prevent yourself from over-indulging. 

It is also important to remember that mayo is just a sauce, meaning it should not be eaten alone. Whatever food you are adding it to will contain carbs, so watch out for those as well. 

 

How much mayo can you eat on keto?

Since mayo has 0 g of carbs, you can theoretically eat as much as you want without exceeding your daily carb limit. Before you get excited, we’ve got to break it to you: you cannot eat an endless amount of mayonnaise in real life. You should limit your consumption. 

Why? 

First, mayonnaise is very calorie-dense and will cause weight gain if consumed in excess. Even if weight loss is not your goal, 5 tablespoons contain almost a quarter of one’s daily calorie needs (based on a 2000 calorie diet).

If you are looking to gain weight, there are better and more nutritious sources of calories than mayonnaise.

Secondly, mayonnaise is a processed food that is high in sodium and cholesterol. Excess consumption of sodium can result in high blood pressure, and too much cholesterol can cause damage to blood vessels. 

In short, it is best enjoyed as a treat but not as a major part of one’s daily diet, ketogenic or not.  


What kind of mayo is best for the keto diet?

Since its invention in the 1700s, mayo has been altered to get many versions. Most types have been developed to get a healthier alternative to the original. Some of the types available include:

  • Real or full-fat mayonnaise (store bought). Original mayonnaise is very keto-friendly. It has the downside of being ultra-processed, calorie-dense, and may contain GMO ingredients. 
  • Low-fat mayonnaise (store bought). Low-fat options are not the best for ketogenic eating since the goal of keto is to get most of your energy from fat. They may also contain additives like sugar and starches, which are rich in carbs. As with their high fat counterparts they are ultra-processed and may contain GMO ingredients. 
  • Vegenaise. Original egg-free Vegenaise has a nutrition profile almost identical to real mayonnaise. Vegenaise however contains some omega-3 fats due to the oils used. Vegenaise is only one brand of vegan mayonnaise. Other brands might be less keto-safe. Always read the nutrition label to confirm the carb content. 
  • Miracle whip is less keto-friendly than original mayo as it contains 2 g of carbs per tablespoon (from added sugar). It is however more affordable and can be used as a replacement if the servings are limited. 
  • Homemade mayo is even better for your health than store-bought keto mayonnaise brands. This is because it contains no preservatives and has less sodium. 
  • Mayo made from other oils. Most commercially produced mayonnaise uses canola and soybean oil. However, some brands use other types of oil like olive, coconut, and avocado. Olive and avocado oils are the most ideal for low-carb diets as the offer a range of healthy fats.

When it comes to keto, all the above types of mayonnaise are low in carbs. However, keto is not just about cutting carbohydrates. It is also about living the healthiest lifestyle possible. Therefore, choose the mayo that best serves your health and lifestyle needs, not just the one with the lowest carbs.

For example, KEWPIE mayo often includes monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is made from fermenting starch or sugar. While this doesn’t directly increase its carb content, if you are sensitive to it, avoid this type of mayo.

To sum up, commercial brands like Duke’s or Hellman’s mayo are usually okay for keto in terms of carbs, but remember that making your own is the best option to avoid added ingredients and preservatives. 

 

BUILD YOUR KETO DIET PLAN


How to use mayo on keto

Many of the dishes that use mayo on the traditional diet are not keto-approved. Think sandwiches, burgers, and even coleslaw. The traditional coleslaw recipe calls for sugar, making it non-ketogenic.

You can, with some creativity, find dishes with which you can eat mayo. Here are some suggestions for you.

  • Egg salads
  • Vegetable salads
  • Deviled eggs
  • Breadless burgers
  • Dip for ketogenic snacks

 

What is a keto substitute for mayo?

Even though mayo is keto-friendly, you can still opt for other sauces for variety and healthier meals. Some of the keto-friendly substitutes include:

  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream
  • Pesto
  • Mustard
  • Nut butters like peanut and almond

 

FAQs about eating mayo on keto

If you still have questions about eating mayonnaise on keto, we have your back. Find answers to the most commonly asked questions below.
 

Avocado oil mayonnaise is the healthiest mayonnaise for keto and any diet. Other oils, like olive, also make healthy mayonnaise but have a strong flavor that is different from the original. It’s best to make your keto mayo at home so you can use whole, real ingredients and no additives or preservatives.

It is very easy to make your own mayonnaise at home. The good news is that any classic mayonnaise recipe is suitable for the ketogenic way of eating. If you do not add any sugars or starches, then it is safe for keto. 

Here is a 1-minute recipe you can try.

Ingredients 

  • 1 whole egg
  • ½ tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of avocado oil or any neutral-flavored oil

Directions 

  1. Add all the ingredients apart from the oil to a tall jar.
  2. Add the oil on top of the other ingredients.
  3. Use your immersion blender to mix the ingredients. Ensure the blender is as close to the bottom of the jar as possible for at least 15 seconds. 
  4. Blend for one minute or until a uniform mixture is formed.
  5. Put the mayonnaise into a clean jar and store in the refrigerator. 

Yes, you can. If the restaurant uses branded mayonnaise, find out the brand and check if it is zero or low carb. If the restaurant makes its own custom mayonnaise, ask for the ingredients. If it is just eggs, vinegar, oil, and lemon juice, you can eat it.   

No, mayo is not always considered a healthy fat on keto or any diet (it depends on the type of oil used). Healthy fat sources include olive oil, avocado, fish, nuts, nut butter, seeds, and seed butter. 

Yes, most vegan mayonnaises are similar to original mayonnaise in terms of nutrition. Some brands might add sugars and starches to their product, so be aware. Always read the nutrition label when trying a new brand.  

Keto-friendly mayo is available almost in all stores. In fact, the most readily available brands like American Garden and Hellmann’s are very keto-friendly.