Canned meat products like SPAM® (a canned, pork-based luncheon meat) are popular for many reasons. They are convenient because they don’t need refrigeration and are often inexpensive because they make use of less popular cuts of meat and scraps that would otherwise go to waste. Canned meats like SPAM are a modern form of what is known as potted meat, which is a traditional form of food preservation.
What’s in SPAM?
SPAM contains six ingredients:
- pork with ham,
- modified potato starch,
- sugar, and
- sodium nitrite.
Pork, water and salt are obviously keto friendly but what about sugar and potato starch? Although these are not keto-friendly ingredients on their own, they are present in a small percentage in SPAM.
A look at the nutrition information shows that a single serving comes in at only 1 gram of carbohydrate, with 16 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein. Those are keto friendly macros.
An entire can equals six servings, so if one were to eat the entire can, that would still only be 6 total carbs. If you are avoiding all sugars and starches, SPAM isn’t going to work for you, but if you are keeping an eye on your total carbs and are less concerned about small amounts of processed carbohydrates, then there may still be room for SPAM in your keto plan.
Read the labels
There are other brands of canned luncheon meats and also several different varieties of SPAM. Read the labels of each new product (even if it looks exactly like another product that you’re already familiar with) just to be sure of the macros.
As an example, another brand of pork-based canned meat reveals a longer list of ingredients and a higher carb count of 4 grams per serving. The nutrition information will vary among competing brands, and among different flavor varieties.
Other meats to try
Corned beef, deviled ham, canned chicken, and Vienna sausages are other options available in the canned meat aisle, and some of them are quite keto friendly. But beware some canned meats rely on starches and fillers to stretch small amounts of meat to keep the product inexpensive. These products can be high in carbohydrates. Also look for products in sauces that are typically high in sugar.
Canned meats are great pantry items to keep on hand for emergencies because they don’t require refrigeration or cooking. They are convenient for travel and camping, as they are easy to transport and can be found in gas stations and convenience stores where fresh meat isn’t often an option. Canned meats may be more accessible and more affordable than fresh meat depending on where you live, too.
So, is SPAM keto friendly?
The good news is SPAM is keto friendly in moderation and can be a part of a keto diet if you are comfortable with the ingredients. While canned meats like SPAM can be part of a well-constructed low-carb lifestyle if used thoughtfully, they probably shouldn’t be a dietary staple. Read the ingredients, understand the nutrition information, and consider how they fit into the overall picture for your diet when you decide if they are right for you.