Most people know that Spam is some kind of meat, and its popularity has grown drastically in the last year or so. But what exactly is Spam, and is it keto-friendly? Let’s take a closer look at whether you can eat this processed meat on a ketogenic diet.
Because of its reputation, you might think that Spam is some sort of weird mix of meat-like substances and other unhealthy ingredients. So, it might surprise you to learn that Spam only contains six ingredients: pork with ham meat, water, salt, sugar, modified potato starch, and sodium nitrite for freshness.
Spam hit the market in 1937 when Hormel Foods was looking for a way to get inexpensive meat to consumers during the end of the Great Depression. From there, its popularity grew, especially during World War II. Its long shelf life and vacuum-sealed containers made it a very useful and reliable product during this time, and it soon made its way around the world.
Generally, yes, Spam is a low carb food that’s great for keto. But, like any other food on the keto diet, you must read the label carefully. One serving of Spam is only 2 ounces, but the typical container has 6 servings. So, while a serving of Spam or two might be fine, eating the entire container might not be.
Classic Spam has 1g of carbs per serving.
Many people don’t realize that there are multiple Spam flavors, and some of them have more than others. For example, Spam Lite, Spam with Oven Roasted Turkey, Spam with Less Sodium, and Spam with Bacon all have 1g of net carbs per serving, but Spam Jalapeno, Spam Hot and Spicy, and Spam Black Pepper all have 2g. Because of the added flavoring, Spam Teriyaki has 5g and Spam Tocino has a whopping 7g of net carbs.
So, in small doses, most flavors of Spam are keto-friendly. But be sure to read the labels. Some flavors of Spam have more net carbs than you might think.
There are a lot of good reasons to have a few cans of Spam in the cupboard if you’re living the keto lifestyle. As mentioned, it’s shelf-stable for a long time, and the small and convenient tins fit easily into your cupboard. Spam is also extremely versatile and very convenient. You don’t have to worry about expiration dates like you do with fresh meat or taking meat out of the freezer to thaw for tomorrow’s dinner.
Spam is fine in moderation, but there are some downsides to consider before making it a part of your diet every day.
Spam is a highly processed food. Eating too much processed meat is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and diabetes. This canned meat also contains a lot of salt. One serving of original Spam has nearly a third of what an adult should have in a day. This could be an issue for people with blood pressure issues.
Finally, Spam is very high in fat, with 16 g, including 6 g of saturated fat, in a single serving. Some fat is okay, especially on a keto diet, but Spam has a lot of fat and calories without many of the nutritional benefits of other meats, like chicken or turkey.
Spam is a good addition to a keto diet because it’s high in protein, easy to cook, and a nice change if you’re looking for something a little different. You can substitute Spam directly for ham or bacon in many dishes. Try cutting it into cubes and mixing it into your eggs or frying it up in a skillet with some spinach and veggies in some extra virgin olive oil and tossing it over some cauliflower rice.
Another popular keto recipe is Spam fries. Just cut the Spam into long thin pieces and fry them up in a pan! Or, try a keto Spam meatball to help you stay in ketosis.