Is Soy Sauce Keto-Friendly?

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

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Short answer: Yes, soy sauce is low in carbs and keto-approved. However, keep an eye on the sodium content.


You cannot think about Asian cuisine and not think about soy sauce. It is used in almost all Asian and Asian-inspired cuisines including Chinese, Japanese, and Thai foods.

Since most of us enjoy Asian food, it is only right to wonder what happens when you start a ketogenic diet.

In this article, we will be answering all the questions you have about eating this delicious condiment on keto. Is soy sauce keto? How many carbs does it have? How much can you have on this low-carb high-fat diet?? And so much more.


What is soy sauce?

This condiment is common in many types of Asian cuisine. It originated in China over 2,000 years ago, spreading throughout Asia and eventually the rest of the world.

It is used to introduce or add a salty or umami flavor to dishes. Some sweet varieties also exist, but the umami flavor is a favorite everywhere.

There are hundreds of different types, but the light kind is the most popular in the West.

The sauce is made by fermenting soybeans and wheat in water. There are two main methods of fermentation used: the traditional way and the chemical way.

In the traditional way, the soybeans and wheat are left to ferment on their own for months or even years. For the chemical way, the fermentation is quickened using heat and acids.

Does soy sauce have carbs?

Usually yes, but it depends on a lot of factors. Keep reading to learn more!


Soy sauce nutrition facts

This condiment is not very nutritious. It is low in calories and in every nutrient except sodium. For this reason, always pair it with more nutritious dishes like fish, seafood, and leafy vegetables.

Serving size: 1 tablespoon of regular soy sauce, equal to 16 g or 15 ml

  • Calories: 8.5 kcal
  • Fat: 0.1 g
  • Net carbs (total carbs - fiber): 0.7 g
  • Total carbs: 0.8 g
  • Fiber: 0.1 g
  • Protein: 1.3 g
  • Sodium: 878 mg

To answer the question of whether it has carbs, yes, but barely. There is less than 1 gram of carbs in 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.

This nutrition information only applies to the generic light type. Different brands and types have different nutrition compositions.




Can you eat soy sauce on keto?

The short answer is yes. However, there are other factors to think about like the amount, brand, type, and so on.

To be safe, always check the number of carbs on the label to be sure.

The debate around soy sauce on keto does not end with carbs, however. Some people prefer to avoid it for other reasons.

The main factor to consider is that soy has very high sodium levels. 1 tablespoon of the sauce contributes nearly 40% of your daily sodium limit.

In addition to this, most of the soy used to make this product is GMO. Over 90% in the United States is GMO and the situation is not that different in other countries.

Scientists have not found any side effects of eating GMO crops, but some people would rather avoid them.


How much soy sauce can you have on keto?

With every tablespoon having less than a gram of carbs, you can have up to 3 tablespoons a day. If you have done the math, that is only 2.1 g of net carbs, so you might be wondering, why stop there?

First, we’re talking about a condiment. It is very likely that you are eating it with other foods that contain carbs. If you use up your carb allowance on a condiment, then how much nutritious food can you have?

Secondly, it has a very high sodium content. Three tablespoons are enough to cross your daily sodium limit. High sodium consumption is related to a high risk for high blood pressure and other heart and kidney complications.

The good news is that research shows that the consumption of soy products does not increase one’s risk for heart disease, but the salt content might. It doesn’t hurt to stay cautious.


What soy sauce is best for the keto diet?

The types available across the world are endless. However, these are the most common in most countries:

  • Light. This is the most popular with only 0.7 g of net carbs per tablespoon.
  • Dark. This is rarely ketogenic as most brands add brown sugar and molasses to enrich the flavor and color of the product.
  • Tamari. This is usually made without wheat, making it gluten-free. It is also low in carbs and therefore keto-friendly.
  • Sweet. This is the furthest from keto-friendliness as sugar is added to give it a sweet flavor.
  • Low-sodium. This type is similar to light except that it has less sodium. It is therefore just as keto-approved.

Remember, some brands may carry keto-friendly versions but add carbs to them. Always read the nutrition label before buying an unfamiliar brand.




Keto-friendly substitutes for soy sauce

If for any of the reasons mentioned you feel like this particular condiment does not cut it for you, here are some keto-friendly soy sauce alternatives. These are also great for when you just want to switch things up.

  • Liquid aminos. These contain almost 0 g of carbs making them excellent for keto.
  • Coconut aminos. Derived from coconuts, these contain quite a bit of carbs but make a wonderful substitute if you watch your portions.
  • Fish sauce. Contains less than a gram of carbs per tablespoon.
  • Oyster sauce. Even though this contains only 2 g of carbs per tablespoon, some keto-eaters prefer to avoid it because it contains sugar.
  • Miso paste.
  • Maggi seasoning sauce.


FAQs about eating soy sauce on keto

If you still have any questions, keep reading as we answer some of them.

Reduced sodium soy sauce is the most nutritionally balanced type for keto or any diet. It is low in carbs and has only 50 to 60% of the sodium in the regular kind.

Yes, you can if it is the light kind. If you are not sure, ask what kind you have been served to make sure it doesn’t have more carbs than you think.

It should be easy to find in almost all grocery stores. Do not pay extra for special brands advertised as low-carb as most common types already fit the bill.

Yes. Kikkoman soy sauce has a very similar nutritional composition to regular soy sauce. However, each tablespoon also has 41% of the daily recommended sodium intake, so it’s best not to go overboard.

A single-serving packet usually has half a tablespoon of liquid, which contains about 0.4 g of net carbs. This may change depending on the brand.

No, sticky wings use honey, sugar, or maple syrup to achieve that stickiness. For this reason, they are very high in carbs and therefore not ketogenic.


What other condiments and sauces are ketogenic?