seitan keto

Is Seitan Keto-Friendly or Just Low Carb?

Seitan is a popular product for vegans and vegetarians known for its meat-like texture. It is a plant-based protein source, and people use it as a substitute for meat. It is also a good option for those who can’t eat soy and soy products such as tempeh and tofu. 

You can make this product from wheat dough that you rinse of starch. It is variable, and you can prepare it in many different ways. One of the most popular ways to cook seitan is by simply seasoning it to your liking and cooking it like meat. 

While this product seems interesting to try and incorporate into your diet, the question is- does it belong in a keto or a low carb dieters’ menu? 

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To get all your questions answered, keep on reading!

What is Setian?

The name of this product has a Japanese origin but is also commonly known as miàn jīn in Chinese and bulgogi in Korea. In Western countries, people know it as wheat gluten, vital wheat protein, and gluten meat. The link to the name is obvious- they make it from gluten, which is the main protein of wheat. 

Seitan originates from China in the 6th century, where people used it as an ingredient for noodles. Historically, it was popular in Japanese, Chiese, and other East and Southeast Asian cuisines. Today, people use it in many countries around the world. Its popularity spiked with the rise of vegetarian and vegan diets. 

This product has a variable nature, so people are preparing it in many different ways. For example, you can make it roasted, baked, fried, and even canned- such as vegetarian mock duck, which is fried canned seitan. 

seitan

How is Seitan made?

You can make this popular meat substitute from vital wheat gluten or hard wheat flour (high-gluten flour, high-protein flour, or gluten flour).

Vital wheat gluten is the powdered form of wheat gluten. To make it, you need to hydrate hard wheat flour to activate the gluten. Then process the hydrated mass to remove the starch, which will leave only the gluten. Then the gluten is dehydrated and ground into powder form. 

To make seitan from this powdered vital wheat gluten is an easy process. You can rehydrate it and activate the gluten. Then you can cook it to your liking. 

Making seitan from hard wheat flour is a more complicated process that takes several steps. The first step is to create a dough by adding water to the flour. The next step is to knead the dough under running water to remove the starch. At the end of this process, what you have left is just the wheat protein- the gluten. At this stage, your seitan is ready to be cooked.s

Today, you can find pre-prepared seitan at the most common grocery stores in the aisle for meat substitutes. However, you can still make it yourself at home. 

Seitan Nutrition Facts

The table below contains the nutritional information on 100 grams of vital wheat protein. It is important to know that the information in the table may vary depending on how you cook it. (*)

Calories400 kcal
Fat3.33 grams
Protein76.7 grams
Total Carbs13.3 grams
Fiber0 grams
Net Carbs13.3 grams

Is Seitan healthy?

People use this product as a meat alternative for a reason. Seitan is low-fat and low-carb, but the main reason is that it is mainly composed of protein. Per 100 grams, it contains 77 grams of protein, which is the equivalent to the amount of protein in a 250 gram serving of chicken breast.

However, according to science- seitan is not a whole protein. The reason is that it does not contain enough of an essential amino acid called lysine. If you eat a diet with this meat alternative, to get all the amino acids that your body needs, you need to consume more foods rich in lysine. (*)

Seitan is also rich in some micronutrients such as iron, copper, and selenium. However, while it is a low-carb, low-fat, and good source of protein, it is also a processed food that does not exist in nature by itself.

Another downside to this protein-rich product is that it is not suitable for people who are sensitive to gluten, have a gluten allergy, are intolerant to it, or have Celiac Disease. (*)

There is also evidence that suggests that gluten can cause increased intestinal permeability. The normal intestines are designed and regulated to absorb only small particles into the bloodstream. However, sometimes they will start to absorb large particles- which is known as leaky intestines. (*)

In some cases, the reason for increased intestinal permeability can be gluten. Scientists still don’t know why some people are affected by it, and others are not. Therefore the mechanisms of action are still unknown. (*) (*)

If you consume gluten and are experiencing the following symptoms: bloating, gas, diarrhea, or joint pain- you may want to try removing it from your diet. You may want to bring it up to consult a medical professional about this topic. 

Can You Eat Seitan On Keto Diet?

As you can see from the nutritional information, this product is low-carb, low-fat, and high in protein. In 100 grams of vital wheat protein (the powder that you rehydrate into seitan), there are 77 grams of protein, almost no fat, and 13.3 grams of net carbs. 

The protein in seitan is the same amount as 250 grams of beef or chicken breast. However, it contains only small amounts of lysine, which is an essential amino acid. Because of the small amounts of lysine, gluten is not a complete protein. 

Apart from that, it is not gut-friendly, and it is processed. It is also low in fat- which is not ideal for a keto diet, as you need a high amount of fat to stay in ketosis.

So, all that is left is to answer the question. Does seitan belong on a keto or a low-carb plate? The answer is not as simple as yes or no. It greatly depends on how you are doing keto or low-carb.

For example, if you are on a strict keto diet, then NO. Consuming it would not be a keto-friendly option. The reason is that firstly seitan is made from wheat, and it is practically gluten. And, gluten is not allowed on a strict keto diet. Another point is that in 100 grams of vital wheat protein, there are 13 grams of net carbs. That means that it takes up about half of the daily carb allowance of a strict keto dieter. Additionally, it is processed food- which is also not allowed on a strict keto diet.

However, some people don’t do the keto diet strictly gluten-free and don’t follow the strict keto rules. So, if you are one of those people or are on a general low-carb diet- you can have it if you want to. Just make sure that you don’t go over your daily carb allowance. 

Bottom line:

Is seitan high in carbs?

No, it is low in carbs.

Is Seitan keto-friendly?

No, seitan is not STRICTLY keto-friendly.

How many net carbs are in seitan?

It contains 13 grams of net carbs per 100 gram of powdered vital wheat protein. 

Conclusion

Seitan is a popular meat alternative with a texture similar to meat that originates in Asia. Its beginnings were in cuisines all across Asia, but today it is spread everywhere. You can easily find it in supermarkets listed as a meat substitute. 

You can make it from hard wheat flour. The process to make seitan is simple- by removing the starch in hard wheat flour. What is left is the wheat protein- gluten. 

If you are on a strict keto diet, you probably already know that gluten is not allowed. Therefore, just by the fact that it is mainly gluten- seitan is NOT ketogenic. However, if you are not on a strict keto diet, or if you are on a low-carb diet- you can have it if you want. Just make sure to watch out for the serving size to avoid overeating.

See more: Is tofu keto friendly?

*image by info.jefmilano.com/depositphotos

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