spam keto

Can You Spam on the Low Carb Ketogenic Diet?

SPAM is the iconic canned lunch meat in a little blue packaging that began its way into the supermarket shelves in 1937. It was manufactured by Hormel Foods and created in Austin Minnesota.

Let’s take a look at Spam ingredients, nutrition facts and should you eat it on a healthy diet.

It came towards the end of the Great Depression where it helped fill a huge need for inexpensive meat products during World War II. This is because of its ability to be stored for long periods of time.

According to SPAM’s brand site it won over the hearts of soldiers, world leaders, celebrities, chefs, kids and parents. Up to date, people continue to enjoy it in over 44 countries shipped around the world.

What is Spam Made Of?

SPAM’s brand site declares “six simple ingredients” found in a can of SPAM classic. 

These are: 

  • Pork with ham
  • Salt
  • Water 
  • Potato starch
  • Sugar 
  • Sodium nitrite

Ingredients are different depending on the variety of the can. The product labels slightly vary from one another. Though they are all based around the similar main ingredients, the shorter the ingredients list, it follows to be considered “cleaner” in a keto diet. 

How is SPAM Made?

Hormel’s brand site explains that to manufacture SPAM, ground pork and ham are blended with other ingredients in a span of 20 minutes. By the time the mixture teaches their standard temperature, it is packaged accordingly into the can and is vacuum-sealed. Next, the cans are cooked and cooled for three hours. Lastly, labeling these cans

So what is pork with ham?

Ground pork meat comes from the pork shoulder which is among the five major pork cuts. Whereas, ham comes from either the picnic shoulder or leg. 

Let’s take a look at each SPAM product in the market and their corresponding nutrition facts.

Spam Products and Nutrition Facts

There are twenty (22) SPAM varieties currently being sold all over the world. 

Each can of SPAM has a net weight of 12 oz or 340g. The serving size declaration is 2 oz or 56g or typically 6 thin sliced pieces.

Let’s see the following nutrition facts breakdown of SPAM varieties:

Spam VarietyCaloriesTotal FatSodiumTotal CarbsSugarsProtein
SPAM Classic18016g790mg1g0g7g
SPAM Lite1108g580g1g0g9g
SPAM Less Sodium18016g680mg1g0g7g
SPAM with Real Hormel Bacon18016g520g1g0g7g
SPAM Oven Roasted Turkey804.5g520mg1g0g9g
SPAM Hickory Smoke18016g640mg1g0g7g
SPAM Hot and Spicy16016g600mg2g1g7g
SPAM Jalapeno16014g650mg2g0g7g
SPAM Teriyaki16012g670mg5g4g7g
SPAM Black Pepper18016g580mg2g0g7g
SPAM Chorizo18016g590mg2g1g7g
SPAM Portuguese Sausage 17015g590mg1g1g7g
SPAM Tocino17013g420mg7g6g7g
SPAM Garlic18016g430mg1g1g7g
SPAM with Cheese17015g720mg1g1g8g

How many carbs are in Spam?

Most Spam varieties contain between 1-2 grams of carbs per serving of 2 oz (56g).

Among the SPAM varieties and in terms of total carbs, SPAM Teriyaki and SPAM Tocino contain more carbs than the rest. The increase may be attributed to the sugar added as a staple ingredient for all SPAM varieties. They contain 4g and 6g of sugars, consecutively. Hence these two varieties are not low-carb friendly at all. 

The common ingredients of SPAM products are pork with ham, water, salt, sugar, modified potato starch, and sodium nitrite. If we classify these ingredients into general categories, we will have:

  • Meat
  • Natural Flavor and Preservatives
  • Starches; and
  • Chemical preservatives

Summarized in this table are what SPAM uses to come up with a different variety of flavors:

Meat Natural Flavor and PreservativesStarchesChemical Flavors and Preservatives
Pork with HamMechanically Separated ChickenHORMEL® Bacon Rendered Bacon Fat Lean TurkeySaltSugarTurkey brothTABASCO® Brand Pepper SauceTABASCO® Brand Dry Red FlavoringJalapeno PeppersChili PowderSpicesPaprikaPalm OilGarlicPasteurized Processed CheeseMilkfatModified Potato StarchDextroseSodium NitriteSodium PhosphatesPotassium ChlorideSodium AscorbateSodium ErythorbateHickory Smoke FlavoringOleoresin of PaprikaSoy sauce powderPotassium ChlorideSodium DiacetateSorbic AcidArtificial Color

Bottom line: Typically the fat content of SPAM is attributed to the fat from pork, ham or chicken ingredients. It can also be seen that all varieties contain sugar which is a no for strict-keto dieters. SPAM products also contain chemical preservatives, a thing to be considered by people on a strict keto diet. 

Is Spam Healthy or Bad for You?

As you know, the product is highly processed to improve shelf life and the product’s texture and taste. In addition, the sodium content is high and Spam also contains chemical preservatives, therefore it is not a healthy food.

Is Spam Keto-friendly?

Because Spam contains sugar and potato starch, it should be avoided on a ketogenic diet even though it’s low in carbohydrates.


All SPAM varieties could be consumed by low-carb dieters but should be avoided by strict keto dieters. Furthermore, Spam is highly processed and should be avoided on any healthy diet.

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Can You Spam on the Low Carb Ketogenic Diet?
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