Is Soy Sauce Keto (& Best Low Carb Alternatives)

If you are new to the keto diet, you are likely looking for flavorful ways to marinade, season, and cook the meals you enjoy while cooking low-carb. 

Soy sauce is a delicious condiment and pantry staple that can safely be incorporated into your keto recipes, but be mindful that it does not have the cleanest ingredients.

What Is Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce is a condiment made from soybeans, wheat, salt and fermenting agents (such as mold or yeast). Soy sauce is used in many types of Asian cuisine ranging from stir-fries to marinades. Invented to help preserve foods, now it is primarily used as a flavor enhancer. 

When hearing about soy sauce, you may hear the term shoyu, a combination of the primary two ingredients of soy and wheat.

Is Soy Sauce Keto Friendly?

The key to choosing your soy sauce if you are on a keto diet is to ensure yours does not have added sugars. One of the downsides of soy sauce is its high sodium content. 

Soy sauce is also not considered clean keto due to the use of wheat. Dieters eating dirty keto may find soy sauce fits into their diet.

Is Soy Sauce Full of Sugar?

Regular soy sauce is typically made from fermented soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. As the soybeans undergo the fermentation process, some carbohydrates convert to sugars. 

However, in traditional soy sauce, the sugar content is typically very low. One thing you will get good at when eating keto is reading nutrition labels to make sound decisions.

How Many Carbs and Calories Are There in Different Types of Soy Sauce?

All of the below nutritional information is for one tablespoon of soy sauce. Here are five different soy sauce options for your cooking needs.

  • Dark Soy Sauce: Some dark soy sauces are also higher in carb count. Kee Kum Kee dark soy sauce has 25 calories and 5 grams of net carbs per tablespoon serving. When following a ketogenic diet, this is a relatively high number of carbs for a condiment. What are the best keto-friendly soy sauces on the market to buy?
  • Gluten-Free Soy Sauce: Many different brands make gluten-free soy sauce. San-J has a delicious gluten-free version, and a tablespoon of it contains 10 calories and 1 net carb.
  • Sweet Soy Sauce: While delicious, ABC Sweet Soy Sauce is very high in carbohydrates. With 50 calories and 12 net carbs for a one tablespoon serving, that is a very high carb content!
  • Traditional Soy Sauce: Also called light soy sauce the traditional soy sauce is low carb. One example is the popular brand Kikkoman. A serving size of one tablespoon has 10 calories and 1 carbohydrate.
  • White Soy Sauce: White soy sauce is advertised as “naturally and traditionally brewed.” One example is the Japanese brand Yamasan white soy sauce. This particular soy sauce is 20 calories and 2 net carbs per serving.

Excellent Keto Soy Sauce Alternatives

Perfect for those following a low-carb diet, these alternatives offer the umami richness you crave in traditional soy sauce but without the added sugars and carbs that can derail your dietary goals.

  1. Coconut Aminos: A naturally sweet and salty condiment derived from the sap of coconut palms. It's soy-free, gluten-free, and contains a fraction of the sodium found in traditional soy sauce, making it a healthier choice for adding depth to your dishes.
  2. Tamari: If gluten is your concern but soy isn't, tamari could be your go-to. It's a Japanese soy sauce made from fermented soybeans and usually contains no wheat, offering a richer and smoother taste profile.
  3. Liquid Aminos: Made from soybeans but not fermented, this sauce is gluten-free and delivers a taste similar to soy sauce. It's a complete protein source, providing all essential amino acids.
  4. Fish Sauce: For those who don't mind straying from tradition, fish sauce can add a similar umami flavor to dishes. It's made from fermented fish and salt, low in carbs, and adds a distinct depth of flavor.
  5. Miso Paste: Dilute this fermented soybean paste with water to achieve a soy sauce-like liquid, rich in flavor and perfect for adding umami to your meals. While it's higher in carbs, a small amount goes a long way.
  6. Worcestershire Sauce: Though it contains a bit of sugar, using it sparingly can impart a similar savory profile to soy sauce in marinades, soups, and stews without adding significant carbs.

Incorporate these keto-friendly soy sauce alternatives into your cooking to keep your meals exciting, flavorful, and aligned with your dietary preferences. Whether you're whipping up a stir-fry, marinating meat, or dressing a salad, these substitutes ensure you don't miss out on the flavors you love.