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Net Carbs in Spam: Is Spam Keto Friendly or Just Low Carb?

Latest updates by: Hassan Thwaini

The Spam brand is having their moment right now.

As per the 2020 statistics, the sales of this popular canned luncheon meat surged by more than 70%, and it's all because of the pandemic.

The lockdowns have forced us to look for more versatile and convenient meals with long shelf life.

That's not all. 

The shortage in the supplies of fresh meat has got us turning to the next best option—canned meat.

But if you're on a special diet like keto, you will have to scrutinize each alternative meat you have.

This raises up the question-- is spam keto-friendly?

Before we answer that, we have to tackle other essential topics first—their ingredients and nutrition facts.

Since we have lots of work to do, we better get started. 

Here we go!

What is Spam (and What are Its Ingredients)?

You already know what Spam is—it's everyone's favorite luncheon meat!

This canned-cooked luncheon meat became popular during World War II because it's one of the cheapest and most convenient food for soldiers.

Due to the fact that it's versatile and easy to prepare, it quickly became a household staple. Nowadays, you can find it in almost every home—yours included!

But what is exactly Spam made of? 

This actually has six ingredients—ham and pork shoulder, salt, water, modified potato starch (binds all the ingredients together), sugar, and sodium nitrate (preservative). (1)

How Is Spam Made?

The manufacturing process of Spam is actually pretty simple. (2) In fact, there are only 5 steps involved. 

These are as follows:

Step 1

The pork meat is separated from the bones. The separated meat is then grounded.

Step 2

Ground meat is mixed with the rest of the ingredients for 20 minutes. The resulting mixture is set aside and chilled.

Step 3

Once chilled, the resulting mixture is pressed into Spam cans. The cans are then vacuum sealed.

Step 4

The cans are cooked for three hours and then set aside to allow them to cool completely.

Step 5

This is the last step.

At this stage, the Spam is already safe for consumption. All that needs to be done is labeling the cans, and the Spam is good to go!

What are the Different Spam Products and their Nutrition Facts?

Aside from the delicious taste, Spam has become popular because of its versatility. 

You can eat it on its own or use it to create different dishes like sandwiches, sushis, musubis, pizzas, wraps, and even rice dishes.

But that's not all. 

Spam comes in different flavors, so you can surely find the one that suits your personal preference.

When determining if a food item is keto-friendly or not, you must take a close look at its nutrition facts. Please keep in mind, though, that the nutritional content of Spam varies based on its flavor. That's why you should also familiarize yourself with the nutritional facts of each flavor.

To help you out, we've prepared a comparison table below:

Variety

Calories per serving

Fats per serving

Total Carbs per serving

Spam Classic

180

16 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam Lite

110

8 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam Less Sodium

180

16 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam with Cheese

170

15 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam with Garlic

180

16 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam with Real Hormel Bacon

180

16 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam Hot and Spicy

160

16 grams

2 grams

Spam Hickory Smoke

180

16 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam Jalapeño

160

14 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam Tocino

170

13 grams

7 grams

Spam Teriyaki

160

12 grams

5 grams

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey

80

4.5 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam Black Pepper

180

16 grams

2 grams

Spam Portuguese Sausage

170

15 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam with Chorizo seasoning

180

16 grams

2 grams

Spam Spread

140

12 grams

1 gram (low carb)

Spam Patties

(per two patties)

290

22 grams

15 grams 

Spam Fries

(per 3 pieces) 300

23 grams

14 grams 

Is Spam Keto Friendly?

So here comes the million dollars question-- is spam keto?

To be honest, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. As you may have noticed, the differences in the nutritional content of the different Spam varieties are quite vast. 

Because of this, the answer to whether Spam is keto or not would depend on the spam variety that you wish to consume.

Keto-Friendly Spam Varieties

In general, most Spam varieties contain only 1 gram of total carbs per serving. These varieties can be considered low carb and, therefore, suitable for the keto diet. 

Aside from being low in carbs, these are also high in fats, so it's recommended for keto. 

Here they are:

  • Spam Classic
  • Spam Lite
  • Spam Less Sodium
  • Spam with Real Hormel Bacon
  • Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
  • Spam Hickory Smoke
  • Spam Garlic
  • Spam with Cheese
  • Spam Portuguese Sausage

Non Keto Spam Varieties

On the other hand, few Spam varieties contain too much carbohydrates in just a single serving of Spam, so they won't be considered suitable for the keto diet. These are as follows:

  • Spam Hot and Spicy (2 grams total carbohydrates)
  • Spam Jalapeño (2 grams total carbohydrates)
  • Spam Black Pepper (2 grams total carbohydrates)
  • Spam Chorizo (2 grams total carbohydrates)
  • Spam Teriyaki (5 grams total carbohydrates)
  • Spam Tocino (7 grams total carbohydrates)

Additionally, the Spam varieties are a no-no when in keto because they come with other additives (breading), which increases their carbs content. We're talking about the following:

  • Spam Patties (15 grams total carbohydrates)
  • Spam Fries (14 grams total carbohydrates)

Is Spam Healthy?

Yes, Spam is keto-friendly. But here's another question we must address—is its healthy?

The safety of Spam consumption has been a particular concern for many people because of one ingredient that it has—Sodium Nitrate.

This ingredient is a preservative commonly used in canned goods, fast food items, and other processed meats. 

The concern with the consumption of nitrates is that these might increase the risk of developing heart diseases. (3)

What we must understand is no food items are inherently bad or good for our health. It would all depend on the amount that you consume.

With this in mind, here's what we have to say: Spam is healthy IF you will consume it in moderation. After all, too much of anything—even the good stuff- can be unhealthy.

What are the Different Ways to Eat Spam on Keto?

Now that we know that most Spam is keto-friendly, the next thing we should explore is the different ways on how we can eat Spam on the keto diet. 

Here are some of the best ways that we've found:

Spam Fries

The canned version of Spam fries is not recommended for people on a ketogenic diet because it contains breading. However, there's still one good way to enjoy Spam as fries. 

The good news is it has only one ingredient—your choice of Spam variety, but the OG is already good enough.

To prepare this, all that you need to do is slice the Spam into sticks. The thinner the stick, the crispier it will become.

There are different ways on how to cook this—deep fry, air fry, or bake. Our favorite method is baking, as it's the healthiest option. (4) Cook until the Spam is golden brown and crispy.

Spam Cauliflower Rice

Spam fried rice is one of the best Spam Recipes there is. Unfortunately, you can't consume rice on a ketogenic diet. But of course, there's one excellent keto alternative—cauliflower rice.

To cook this, prepare your cauliflower rice as you normally would. While waiting for it to cook, you can dice your Spam and fry it. You can then mix the rice and spam cubes in a pan and add any other keto friendly ingredients that you can think of.

Spam Lettuce Cups

If you love your lettuce cups, then you'll be happy to discover that there's the way that you can incorporate Spam into your favorite dish.

Instead of ground meat, place baked Spam sticks in your lettuce cups. Garnish it with herbs of your choice and any low carb sauce that you love.

Spam Meatballs Marinara

Yes, Spam is so versatile that you can turn it into meatballs. 

  • You can do this by mashing it with a fork. 
  • Once you've achieved your desired consistency, you can add herbs and seasonings. You may also want to add cheese, almond flour, and scallions.
  • Afterward, shape the resulting mixture into a ball. 
  • Carefully arrange the balls in a baking dish and top them off with keto marinara sauce and mozzarella. 
  • Bake for a few minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble.

This recipe is hitting two birds in one stone—you can enjoy the taste of pizza with meatballs as your base!

Spam Omelette

This is perhaps the easiest but also the safest keto Spam recipe that you can try. After all, you can't go wrong with eggs and Spam on the keto diet!

To prepare this:

  1. Dice your Spam and scrambled the eggs.
  2. Fry the Spam cubes and add in the scrambled eggs.
  3. Mix until the eggs are fully cooked.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Spam and Eggplant Burger

If you used to love eating Spam sandwiches, we have one surprise for you—you can still enjoy it even on the ketogenic diet. 

How? 

You can substitute the bread slices with fried eggplant slices!

It may seem absurd, but it's worth trying, we promise!

Final Words

Before we end this article, we want to leave with you one important message: always watch the amount of food you consume. 

Yes, Spam is keto-friendly as it contains only 1 gram per serving. We have to reiterate this—per serving.

The serving size of Spam is only 56 grams. The weight of the contents of one can of Spam is 340 grams and has roughly around 9 to 11 slices.

With this in mind, Spam can be considered suitable for the keto diet if you limit your consumption only to 2 to 3 slices (depending on the thickness) if you wish to stay in ketosis.


Hassan Thwaini is a qualified pharmacist and hospital specialist. His main focus is to help people utilize their environment and develop a Keto-based diet to help give everybody a healthy lifestyle.


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