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The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is a low carbohydrate, high fat diet that some people use to lose weight or, in some cases, control epilepsy. As salad dressings can contain sugar, they are not always suitable for people on this diet.
People on the keto diet need to get about 55–60% of their daily calories from fat to maintain ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the body switches from using glucose as an energy source to using ketones instead.
In this article, we discuss the best types of salad dressing for the keto diet. We also explain what ingredients to eat and avoid, and how to make keto-friendly salad dressings at home.
Salads can provide someone following the keto diet with important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. As some people experience constipation when transitioning onto this diet, the fiber in a salad can be especially helpful.
However, salad dressings are not always suitable for people hoping to get into and maintain ketosis. People following a keto diet should choose salad dressings that contain a high amount of fat and a low amount of carbohydrate.
A person can tell whether a salad dressing meets these criteria by reading the product label. A keto-friendly salad dressing will list a fat or oil as one of the first ingredients on the label, indicating that the dressing contains a high amount of fat. Some ingredients to look for in a salad dressing include:
A person on the keto diet should avoid products that contain added sugars.
Store-bought dressings may list added sugars under different names, many of which end in “syrup” or “-ose” (such as fructose and glucose). Some natural ingredients, including honey and maple syrup, are also forms of sugar.
Some examples of ingredients to look out for include:
- high fructose corn syrup
- evaporated cane juice
- agave nectar
- maple syrup
- malt syrup
- corn sweetener
- fruit juice concentrates
- cane sugar
Manufacturers often target people who are trying to lose weight by labeling salad dressings as “light” dressings. These products tend to be low in fat and high in sugar and are, therefore, not suitable for people following the keto diet.
By making salad dressings at home, a person on the keto diet can ensure that their food contains the correct fat-to-carbohydrate ratio. It also gives people greater control over what ingredients are in their food.
Many homemade salad dressings use fresh, simple ingredients. It is possible to vary the flavors of these dressings by adding different herbs and spices.
Here are seven examples of homemade keto salad dressings:
This condiment contains egg yolks, Dijon mustard, avocado or olive oil, lemon juice, and white wine vinegar. A person can alter the flavor of mayonnaise by adding garlic, herbs, or chili powder.
This type of salad dressing involves a mixture of olive oil and vinegar. Italian vinaigrette usually contains red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, Italian herbs, and olive oil.
3. Ranch dressing
A person can make ranch dressing by combining sour cream, mayonnaise, whipping cream, ACV, herbs, garlic, and scallions.
4. Blue cheese dressing
To make blue cheese dressing, a person can mix Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, heavy whipping cream, blue cheese, and fresh parsley. This dressing goes well with green salads and chicken.
5. Tahini dressing
Tahini is sesame seed paste. It is useful for the keto diet because it is high in fat and adds a nutty flavor to food. A person can make tahini dressing by slowly adding a liquid, such as lemon juice, to the paste. Garlic (fresh or powdered), herbs, and spices can all add extra flavor.
6. Medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil dressings
MCT oils can promote ketosis in humans, so they are useful additions to the keto diet. A person can include MCT oils in salad dressings by mixing them with olive or avocado oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and herbs.
7. Avocado dressings
Avocados are high in healthful fats. Using a blender, a person can combine avocados with oil, lemon or lime juice, or vinegar to make salad dressings.
The best types of store-bought salad dressings for the keto diet will have the following features:
- a high fat, low sugar content
- a relatively short ingredients list
- oil or fat as the first ingredient
- no added sugars, including natural sweeteners such as honey
These dressings could include:
- traditional vinaigrettes
- creamy dressings, such as blue cheese, ranch, or thousand island
- dressings that the manufacturers have specifically marketed as “keto” or “low carb”
It is often more difficult to know what ingredients a salad dressing contains at a restaurant. However, there are ways to continue following the keto diet while eating out. To add flavor and texture to a salad, someone eating at a restaurant could choose:
- extra virgin olive oil
- melted butter
- fresh mayonnaise
- sour cream
- grated cheese
- sugar-free bacon
A person could also call ahead to ask for ingredients lists for specific meals and salad dressings so that they can decide in advance what they will order at the restaurant.
Salad dressings can make raw vegetables more appealing. However, not all salad dressings are suitable for people on the keto diet. Choosing the right dressing can help someone stay in ketosis by allowing them to get the right amount of fat each day.
It is easy to make high fat, low carbohydrate dressings at home. When buying a product from a store, it is important to read the label to check the ingredients and nutritional values.
In a restaurant, someone can stay in ketosis by choosing safe options, such as olive oil, butter, or cheese, or by asking whether they can see the list of ingredients for other dressings.