How to Read a Food Label Keto Style

Many people find labels confusing and it can be, because of the constant changes in our foods, but with some simple guidelines it can be an easy practice to get into, even if you are not going Keto or Carnivore. It is important to understand the foods you are eating and to have the knowledge to make decisions that benefit you.

I have selected a Keto cereal label as our example with a step-by-step below. In each step I am looking for a reason to put the food back on the shelf. This is the primary reason for the label, to identify foods you should be avoiding.


  1. What is the serving size?

When I read a label for Keto, I first look at the serving size. Here it is 100g/1 cup. That’s quite a bit of nut, coconut cereal, but it gives me an idea of how much food for how many carbs etc. I can then decide how much I want to eat. If the portion size is small you will need to double the numbers to get to the portion size you know you will really, likely eat. If the portion is low at 20g, then depending upon the numbers, this food might not be right for Keto. Amount matters. You really need to be honest with yourself about how much you want to eat. You can change your mind, but do the math right, so you know.

  1. What are the calories?

I’m not necessarily too concerned with calories on Keto, unless I do want to drop a few pounds, otherwise I'll eat until I feel full, especially a high fuel/high calorie food, because I won’t be able to eat too much. That’s one of the benefits of Keto. Your Feeling-Full System works properly, because you don’t have excess insulin in your body and your bacteria is the good kind that doesn’t cause cravings. For me the only thing I’m likely to overindulge in is whipping cream ice-cream and yes, I will eat it until I feel sick (my bad).

  1. Fat?

I’m only checking for trans fats and AGE fats like canola. I won’t touch them and if the product has any back on the shelf it goes, never to be considered again. If the fat is the ok kind and is high, as it is here at 91%, I just know the food will be filling and I won’t be able to eat much before I feel full. This tells me that the serving is likely to high for me at 1 cup. I’ll probably only want about half that. Knowing this I’ll do the math to get what I think is my real portion numbers when I look at the carbs.

  1. Nutrients?

I generally skip from Fat to get a look at the nutrients. I want to know if this food is going to offer me anything substantial, if not back on the shelf it goes. This cereal is pretty good, offering 490mg/cup of potassium, the most important mineral in my body. You need 4700mg/day, so this cereal can be a good source. It has a good amount of iron and calcium as well.

  1. What does the salt look like?

In Keto we need more than 3 times the salt as a carbohydrate diet requires, because we use it to burn fat and ignite brain synopsis, but this cereal is low, so it isn’t a good source. Not an issue, because I can add salt to my diet at will.

  1. Cholesterol?

If there are no trans fats, which I have already checked for, I don’t bother with this, because I need cholesterol on Keto to burn fat and make fat soluble hormones, as well as dozens of other functions.

  1. What are the net-carbs?

This is the 2nd to last thing I look at. I’ve already decided that the portion is very generous and given the fat and calorie counts I’m not going to be able to eat that size of serving. I’ve also decided that there is a decent amount of nutrient in it. The last thing I want to do is eat empty food.

  1. a) I begin by checking out the gross carbs. Here they are 21g/1 cup. For Keto we want to stay between 12 and 30 carbs per day, so the gross carbs are too high, but in Keto we are only interested in the net carbs.
  2. b) What is the fibre? The fibre here is 9g. You can’t digest fibre, so minus the fibre. That leaves 12g. That’s still to high for Keto, but we aren’t done.
  3. c) Are there any alcohol sugars, which are another fibre you can’t digest, but your gut bacteria can and they love it? There are 11g of this fibre and like the other fibre you minus it. That leaves 1g/1 cup. For 1 cup of this cereal, it is 1 net carb. Since I won’t be able to eat more than say 1/2 cup, this snack/breakfast will be 1/2 net carb for me. That’s ideal!

     8. Ingredients?

So far, the label looks good, but the final inspection is the actual ingredients. We are looking for chemicals, additives, nightshades and wheat derived fillers. In this ingredient list there are lots of nuts and seeds and all the good kinds (no nightshades-peanuts or cashews). The oil is coconut oil, great. The sugar alcohol is Xylitol. I like this. Xylitol fortifies tooth enamel and the fibre feeds my good bacteria. There are no protein powders or fake flavours, additives or preservatives. This is a very clean product.

The take-away:

From this label I can see that this cereal is a clean product made from whole foods and is perfect for Keto. It has lots of nutrients, fat for energy, a high calorie count, so a small amount will fill me up and keep me fueled. No bad oils and it’s practically carb free, so almost zero insulin. I’d choose this food anytime and off the shelf and into my basket it goes.