Demystifying Keto Labels

Demystifying Keto Labels

Do you eat Keto? Lazy Keto? Dirty Keto? LCHF?

Especially for those just starting out with this way of eating, this can be very confusing! The fact that there is no established official “Keto” or “LCHF” food classification by the FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand – the government body that oversees food classifications, labelling and standards for Australia and New Zealand) makes this even more challenging and confusing.

What this means is that, purely for marketing purposes only, food products or ingredients can call themselves (by name or on label) “keto” or “keto-friendly” even if nothing could be further from the truth.

So, to help navigate through this minefield, we decided to put this blog together that explores our take on keto and LCHF and how we apply that to our product ranging requirements. Keeping in mind that this is our take only… most people seem to have slightly different opinions and definitions of keto and since there is no official food standards definition everything is technically neither right nor wrong.

Firstly, let’s start with: what is keto? “Keto” is short for Ketogenic – this has been a bit of a diet buzz word for the last 12 months. A ketogenic diet consists of a high proportion of dietary energy coming from fats (75%), a comparatively smaller amount coming from protein (15-25%) and a very small amount of energy derived from carbohydrates (5%)1. When on a ketogenic diet, the body will convert fat into ketones which it uses for energy instead of glucose – which is normally used by the body when carbohydrates are consumed. People following a strict ketogenic diet will be looking carefully at the macros on the nutritional panels of the foods they consume (and typically aim to eat foods with 5-10% carb contents) as well as the ingredient lists to ensure that they don’t contain added sugar or other ingredients that are likely to cause an insulin spike in the body. Strict keto followers will likely also check their blood ketone levels at least on a daily basis to make sure that they are in an ongoing state of ketosis and are burning fat for fuel.

People following a low carbohydrate or LCHF (“low carb high fat”) may adopt a less strict approach and look at macros rather than specifically ingredients. They may also be less concerned about their ketone body levels.

So when a food claims to be “keto” or “keto-friendly” what it SHOULD BEclaiming is that it is suitable for people following a ketogenic diet and would therefore have a low carbohydrate content (e.g.: 5-10%) and exclude ingredients such as sugar, honey and more.

Unfortunately, oftentimes nothing could be further from the truth. Without naming and shaming, we are come across many food products claiming to be “keto” that have extremely high carb contents and “red list” ingredients. We are also often asked about ranging specific products either by our customers or by current and prospective suppliers. While we are always looking to add amazing products to our line-up, there are some products that we just can’t range due to macro or ingredient considerations.

Conversely, there are certain food products that contain ingredients sourced from the “orange list” or the “red list” which would be perfectly acceptable in a keto or LCHF diet. Examples would include the use of pea (orange list) or corn (red list) derived ingredients. Consider the use of pea protein isolate as a protein in foods… the protein isolate contains negligible amounts of net carbohydrates (a very high percentage of protein with a small amount of fibre) and would be appropriate for vegetarians or vegans. Or consider a corn derived pre-biotic fibre. In both cases the risk is that people would see the words “corn” or “pea” in isolation on the ingredient lists and dismiss the foods entirely even through the above examples would be acceptable options.

When considering ranging new products we base our choices on The Real Meal Revolution lists, which can be found by clicking here. We do not stock products that contain added sugar or gluten. From a macro perspective, we aim to stock products that contain 10% or less of carbs. There are a handful of products that have a carb content above this but they have been chosen knowingly.

So, no matter whether you are following lazy LCHF or strict keto, we encourage you to do your homework about any product you intend on eating. Check out the product label, the ingredient list and the nutritional panel. Don’t let the label “keto” fool you as it has no formal standing in Australia and can be used loosely as a marketing tool. One other piece of takeaway (no pun intended!) that we have learnt is that everyone does keto slightly differently, and how one person eats may be different to the next person.

Ref 1.

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