Sneaky Foods with Added Sugar

Can’t Stay in Ketosis? Avoid These Foods with Added Sugar!

Read the label closely because sauces, processed meats, and even protein powders can be foods with added sugar.


 Added Sugar in Ketosis



“Keto flu” is the name given to the constellation of symptoms one experiences when switching from glucose as your source of energy to ketone bodies as your source of energy. People experience irritability, sugar cravings, brain fog, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety, muscle soreness, and even stomach pains and nausea. Meanwhile, take a look at the symptoms of sugar withdrawal: irritability, sugar cravings, brain fog, you get the picture.


The symptoms of keto flu and sugar withdrawal aren’t just the same because I wrote them that way. The reason for the overlap is because going into ketosis requires experiencing sugar withdrawal (although going off sugar doesn’t require going into ketosis). People doing keto or kicking sugar both end up reporting similar positive feelings afterwards: increased focus, more energy, improved mood, etc. There’s also often a weight loss given the caloric deficit created by avoiding foods with processed sugar. But, it’s also tricky, because added sugar has a way of sneaking up on you.


Burgers, fries, and eggs are just some of the foods people dip into ketchup. But if you’re on a low-carb diet then you may have to dip with caution because each tablespoon contains 4.4 net carbs (that’s the number of total carbs minus the grams of fiber per serving). Be careful with sauces and marinades in general!

McDonald’s Fries

Not keto friendly at all, but a great way to be surprised by where sugar may be hiding. When Business Insider reported on how McDonald's fries are made, readers learned that each fry is coated in sugar to ensure color consistency all year round.

Salad Dressings

Salad Dressing Keto Diet

Salads are a great way to get macronutrients and make sure you’re maintaining your ketone body levels throughout the day. They’re even a keto friendly fast food if you’re in a pinch and near a Subway or Jimmy John’s. And while you may know to dodge croutons and dried fruit, dressing may catch you off guard. Some salad dressings have as many as 20 grams of added sugar! Even low-fat salad dressings may have nine grams of sugar in them.

Tonic Water

Yes, there’s plenty of keto friendly alcohol. Vodka, tequila, and whisky are just three examples. But when you’re getting your drink, make sure to order it with club soda or something diet because tonic water, as tasty as it is, has 32 grams of sugar per 12 oz serving. Sure, the quinine in tonic water may fight off malaria but all that sugar’s going to fight off your weight loss!

Sports Drinks

If you’re in ketosis then you’re going to want to up the amount of sodium you consume to offset the rapid pace at which you consume electrolytes thanks to accelerated fat-burning. I usually do this by adding some sea salt to a few glasses of water throughout the day. But if you acting like a salt water fish out in the big city that just wants to remember its home isn’t your style, you may reach for a sports drink. But, be careful, because a serving of Powerade contains 21 grams of sugar!

Protein Powder

Protein Powder on Keto Diet

Yes, even protein powder can sometimes have added sugar. As can protein bars. Some of these companies will lull you into a false sense of security and then, wham!, sugar.

You must be as onguard against added sugar as women are against sexual violence when living within a patriarchy! JK: it’s not at all the same. I just wanted to remind you the importance of believing survivors!

Jerky and Bacon

Et tu, bacon?” Yes, even bacon, and jerky, will betray you if you’re not careful. See, I’ve planted the seed and now the parallels between sexual violence and added sugar are too strong to shake! That’s why patriarchy must be dismantled and why you must read the ingredient list of everything you eat. Too many salted and cured meats contain cane sugar, brown sugar, and maple sugar.

Nut Butter

Nut Butter Keto Diet

Peanut butter is great when you’re doing keto, just make sure it doesn’t have any added sugar! You might be surprised that your favorite brand does. Also, stick to all natural nut butters whenever you can. And if these nut butters knock you out of ketosis, maybe instead of blaming the dieter and asking, “What did you eat?” we should be asking, “Why are these companies hiding these sugars?” WHOSE FOODS?! OUR FOODS?! SHOW ME WHAT NATURAL NUT BUTTER LOOKS LIKE; THIS IS WHAT NATURAL NUT BUTTER LOOKS LIKE!

Deli Meat

Wow. Wait. Really? Wow. Are you sure? Okay, I am very surprised! This is even more shocking than jerky, even though I already knew not to trust something that’s BBQ or teriyaki flavored. Aside from the link between processed meats and heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, many of our favorite sandwich meats have carbohydrate stowaways. Obvi, you’d steer clear of anything seasoned, but even a serving of roast beef, turkey, and pastrami may have a gram each of sugar. And while one gram doesn’t mean much, it adds up when you’re piling the cold cuts high to make up for not eating bread.


Technically, the sugars in dairy are not added, but they are hidden! The sugars in dairy are hidden but not added, so they must still be exposed. Just like patriarchy! SORRY IT’S 2018 AND I AM TOO AWARE OF EXPLOITATIVE POWER DYNAMICS! So, be warned, patriarchy affects us all, and milk, cheese, and yogurt contain lactose ( a sugar made of both glucose and galactose). So, stick to unflavored yogurts. And if you’re going to go for a dairy alternative, make sure to check for sugar too.

Artificial Sweeteners

I’ve been extolling the virtues of artificial sweeteners for a while now because they’re how you can eat sweets on the keto diet. In particular, the sugar alcohol erythritol is responsible for many of my favorite sugar-free chocolates (and they even help you stay in ketosis because they’re high in fat). Erythritol is great because for every 100 grams there's only 5 net carbs, but other artificial sweeteners are not so keto friendly. Maltitol, Xylitol, aspartame, are 67, 60, and 85 net carbs per 100 grams respectively.


Berries are another way that you can eat sweet stuff the keto diet and get your macronutrients, but you need to keep track of portion size. Raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries are 5.5, 7, and 7.5 grams of net carbs per serving. You can enjoy but don’t over do it.