Is Spam Keto? Carbs and Calories in Spam

spam keto

Spam is a popular canned meat product made with ground pork and ham, along with some commonly used flavoring agents and preservatives.  The luncheon meat is convenient, affordable and highly versatile, making it a staple in most American pantries.  The product first gained popularity among soldiers overseas during World War II for its convenience and long shelf-life.

You may be wondering where Spam fits in on the popular Ketogenic diet.  Spam can be used in a variety of low carb dishes. Try it for breakfast cubed and pan-fried with eggs, mushrooms, peppers and onions. It works surprisingly well as a bacon substitute.  Or whip up some a Spam burger for dinner by grilling a slice of Spam in place of a hamburger patty. Why not dice up some Spam and add it to a batch of fried cauliflower rice?

Keep reading to find out more about Spam and how you can enjoy this popular pork product on a low carb lifestyle.

Is Spam Keto Friendly?

Spam is low in carbs and high in fat, making it a good option for those on a Ketogenic diet. A two-ounce serving contains only 2 grams of carbs and 15 grams of satiating fat to help keep you feeling full so that you avoid snacking on those pesky carb-laden foods throughout the day.

How Many Carbs are in Spam?

One two-ounce (56-gram) serving of Spam contains only 2 grams of carbs.  If you’re following a strict, low carb diet like Keto, a serving of Spam makes a great addition to your meal repertoire as long as you avoid combining it with high carb foods, like potatoes, rice or bread.

How Many Calories are in Spam?                       

One two-ounce (56-gram) serving of Spam contains 174 calories.  Spam is high in calories and fat.  If you’re following a calorie-reduction diet plan, a better choice is a fresh salmon fillet which contains only 118 calories or a boneless, skinless chicken breast, 92 calories.

Ingredients in Spam

Pork with Ham, Mechanically Separated Chicken, Water, Salt, Modified Potato Starch, Sugar, Sodium Phosphates, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Ascorbate, and Sodium Nitrite.

Spam Products

Classic Spam

According to Spam’s web site, it is made of two different cuts of pork, ground pork and ham, which makes the classic version a high-fat food.  Each serving contains 6 grams of saturated fat, which equals 28% of the daily recommended value.

Spam Lite

For a lower fat option, Spam offers a lite version of the popular luncheon meat. According to Spam’s website, the lite variety contains 33% fewer calories, 50%less fat and 25% less sodium. Each serving contains only 8 grams of fat and only 1 gram of carbs.

Oven-Roasted Turkey Spam

Another healthier alternative with reduced fat content is the version made with oven-roasted turkey. This product is made from white turkey meat, which makes it much lower in fat and calories than the original version. Each serving contains only 80 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 2 grams of carbs.  The oven-roasted turkey Spam contains even less sodium than Spam’s lite or reduced-sodium versions, at only 450 milligrams per serving.

Spam Reduced Sodium

If you would prefer to retain the high-fat content and flavor of the classic variety but still reduce sodium by 25% then the less sodium version of Spam is for you. This version very similar to the classic version but contains less sodium at only 580 milligrams of sodium, compared to the classic version which packs 790 milligrams per serving.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 2 ounces (56 grams) of Spam Luncheon Meat
Calories 174
Total Fat 15 grams
Total Carbohydrate 2 grams
Sugar 13 grams  
Protein 7 grams  
Sodium 790 milligrams 32%
Potassium  4%
Iron 3%
Zinc 7%
Copper 3%

Health Benefits

spam carbs

Although Spam isn’t associated with many health benefits, it does provide some nutrients.  Spam contains a small amount of protein and several micronutrients, such as zinc, potassium, iron and copper.  It also contains small amounts of vitamin C, magnesium, folate and calcium.

Side Effects

Regular consumption of processed meats, like Spam, may be associated with a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, COPD, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer.

Spam contains sodium nitrite, a food additive that is associated with an increased risk of cancer and diabetes.

Spam is high in sodium, which may be an issue for individuals with high blood pressure. High sodium intake is also associated with a higher risk of developing stomach cancer.

Ways to Enjoy Spam on Keto

  • Cut the Spam brick into thin flat pieces and fry them up. They come out like crackers.  Add a smear cream cheese with whatever else you like that’s keto-friendly. 
  • Fry up strips of spam in place of bacon and serve with eggs for a low carb breakfast.
  • Make Spam burgers on a low carb bun or serve on lettuce leaves instead of the bun.
  • Add cubed Spam to garlic cauliflower rice.
  • Toss cubed spam with spiced zucchini noodles to make a low carb veggie ramen.
  • Add spam, along with cream cheese and avocado, to cauliflower rice sushi.
  • Add cubed Spam and a few pineapple chunks to Cauliflower pizza crust for a tasty low carb Hawaiian pizza.

Related Questions:

Is Spam Healthy?

Because processed meat like Spam is linked to increased risk of several diseases, it’s best to minimize your intake of Spam.  The luncheon meat contains sodium nitrite, a food additive that is linked with a higher risk of certain cancers and type 1 diabetes.

Those with hypertension or high blood pressure should avoid Spam as it is particularly high in sodium.  Health professionals recommend adults keep their sodium intake from 1500 to 2300 milligrams daily.  A single serving of Spam contains 32% of your daily recommended intake of sodium.  Even the reduced salt version of Spam contains 580 milligrams of sodium.

Furthermore, each serving contains 6 grams of unhealthy saturated fat, which is 28% of your daily recommended value, and a hefty dose of cholesterol. In comparison, a 3-ounce fried grass-fed, lean beef burger contains only 4 grams of fat.

Instead, opt for Spam Lite or the healthier Oven Roasted Turkey version of Spam which is healthier than the classic pork Spam.  Even better, choose fresh protein foods like meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products and legumes as part of a healthy, balanced diet. 

Will Eating Spam Cause Weight Gain?

Compared to other meats, Spam is high in fat and calories but lower in protein. While you may be able to consume some spam on a low carb diet like Keto, frequently eating it as part of a high-carb diet could cause weight gain.

A study conducted by the National Institute of Health found that eating a diet made up of highly-processed foods caused participants to overeat and gain weight compared to those on a whole food diet.  Participants on the processed diet ate an average of 508   more calories daily than their counterparts and gained an average of 2 pounds over a 14-day period.  Meanwhile, those on the whole food diet lost an average of 2 pounds.

Is Spam Safe for Diabetics?

Studies show that processed meats like Spam may increase the risk of developing diabetes. According to a new report, regular consumption of canned, processed meats doubles your risk of developing this disease. 

If you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you should consult a registered clinical dietitian to help you plan a healthy diabetic diet.

Is Spam Gluten-Free?

According to the product label, Spam is gluten-free and does not contain any gluten ingredients. The product uses potato starch in its recipe, rather than wheat flour.  This is great news for Spam lovers who are gluten intolerant.

Melissa Marshall

A litigation paralegal and writer. Her first novel debuts this fall. She lives with her kitten, Zoey overlooking the waterfront in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - also known as the “City of Lakes”.

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