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Labels & Menus

By: Jonnathan Zin Truong & Olivia Landes Truong

One important key to living a successful keto lifestyle is knowing what you’re putting into your body. The only way to truly know what you’re consuming is through educating yourself on the products you purchase, researching alternative names for ingredients which will affect your ketone levels, and through asking the right questions to the right people.

EDUCATING:

Not all sugar free products you buy are keto friendly. Most have hidden sugars, carbohydrates, and ingredients which you should avoid while on keto. For example, if I say stevia, what brands comes to mind? For some, the popular brand of sweetener called Truvia comes to mind because it sounds close to “stevia”. Did you know that Truvia, although is somewhat keto friendly, is mostly erythritol and it also has hidden carbohydrates under the guise of “natural flavors.” The carbs amount to the grand total of three carbs per pack. If you’re like me, you may use a few packs of stevia in your cup coffee, meaning if I use Truvia, I would consume 30-50% of my daily allotted carbs per day. As you may know, carbohydrates, although not forbidden, are allowed at very limited quantities and a few packs of Truvia would put you quickly near or over your daily allotted amount.

RESEARCH:

Knowledge is your best friend on keto. There’s nothing more frustrating than believing you’re eating on a strict keto plan and realizing one ingredient thwarted your health goals. To avoid this, you must do as much research about hidden ingredients, alternative names for the common non-keto additives, and best substitutes for the foods you want to avoid. For instance, did you know MSG (monosodium glutamate) has been proven by some researchers to potentially spike insulin levels 200-300%. Did you know that MSG is not only regulated to Asian food, but it is actually a common product used in most fast foods and is in a lot of processed foods, like Doritos. This is why you must read the labels.

Here are some common names of ingredients that always contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG).

  • Glutamic Acid (E 620)2
  • Glutamate (E 620)
  • Monosodium Glutamate (E 621)
  • Monopotassium Glutamate (E 622)
  • Calcium Glutamate (E 623)
  • Monoammonium Glutamate (E 624)
  • Magnesium Glutamate (E 625)
  • Natrium Glutamate
  • Yeast Extract
  • Anything hydrolyzed
  • Any hydrolyzed protein
  • Calcium Caseinate
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Yeast Food
  • Yeast Nutrient
  • Autolyzed Yeast
  • Gelatin
  • Textured Protein
  • Soy Protein Isolate
  • Whey Protein Isolate
  • Anything :protein
  • Vetsin
  • Ajinomoto

Another ingredient which may be lurking as a hidden ingredient in your food is sugar and non-keto approved sweeteners, such as honey and juices. Although, most labels will list the pure form of sugar as a product, they do not list other sweeteners which your body will treat as actual sugars.

Below are over 50 sneaky names food manufacturers use in place of sugar:

  1. Blackstrap molasses
  2. Brown sugar
  3. Cane juice
  4. Cane sugar
  5. Cane sugar extract
  6. Caster sugar
  7. Coffee crystals
  8. Demerara sugar
  9. Golden syrup
  10. Icing sugar
  11. Invert sugar (preferred by bakers)
  12. Molasses
  13. Panela
  14. Rapadura
  15. Raw sugar
  16. Treacle
  17. Turbinado sugar
  18. White sugar
  19. Date sugar
  20. Fruit juice concentrate
  21. Fruit sugar
  22. Grape juice concentrate
  23. Grape sugar
  24. Pear juice concentrate
  25. Beet sugar
  26. Corn sugar
  27. Gluco-malt
  28. Glucose syrup
  29. High fructose corn syrup – a sweetener used in the US
  30. Karo
  31. Agave
  32. Barley malt syrup
  33. Birch syrup
  34. Brown rice syrup
  35. Coconut sugar
  36. Date sugar
  37. Honey
  38. Invert sugar
  39. Malt extract
  40. Maple syrup
  41. Palm sugar
  42. Rice malt syrup
  43. Glucose 
  44. Dextrose (another name for glucose)
  45. Fructose (fruit sugar)
  46. Lactose (milk sugar)
  47. Maltose (malt sugar)
  48. Sucrose
  49. White sugar a.k.a. sugar
  50. Barley malt syrup (for baking and brewing)
  51. Invert sugar (a mix of glucose and fructose preferred by pastry cooks, bakers and confectionery makers as it doesn’t crystallise)

I know what you’re thinking, “Yikes, those are a lot of products!” Again, the above list is the perfect example as to why you should do your research and read your labels.

When you eat out, nowadays, most restaurants have a website online or at least a posted menu. It’s a smart habit to check out the low carb options before you go so that you don’t wind up having to blow your diet. Surfing the web for keto recipes also helps with creativity in knowing how to alter common dishes at your favorite restaurant. 

ASKING QUESTIONS:

Although we always encourage our readers to make a habit of cooking in more regularly, sometimes you need to enjoy a meal out at a restaurant. When doing so, it’s smart to ask certain questions to ensure that your meal won’t kick you out of ketosis. Some good questions to consider are as follows:

  • Does this dish contain any flour?
  • Do you use MSG?
  • Is there any sweeteners in this dish and sauce? If so, what type? (Many may not use sugar but they may use honey, molasses, maple, etc.)
  • Can burger or sandwich be served bunless?
  • Is there an option to substitute high carb sides?

We hope this article helps you live a successful keto lifestyle.