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Are imitation crab keto?

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Are Imitation Crab Keto?

When following a ketogenic diet, it is essential to carefully consider the foods you consume. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that aims to put your body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. Many people wonder if imitation crab, a popular seafood substitute, is keto-friendly. In this article, we will explore the nutritional composition of imitation crab and its compatibility with the ketogenic diet.

Nutritional Composition of Imitation Crab

Imitation crab, also known as surimi, is a processed seafood product made from a combination of fish, typically white fish like pollock or hake, and other ingredients such as starch, sugar, and flavorings. While the exact composition may vary between brands, imitation crab generally contains the following nutrients:

  • Protein: Imitation crab is a good source of protein, with around 6-8 grams per 3-ounce serving.
  • Carbohydrates: Imitation crab contains a significant amount of carbohydrates, primarily from added starch and sugar. A 3-ounce serving can provide around 15-20 grams of carbs.
  • Fat: Imitation crab is relatively low in fat, with only about 1-2 grams per serving.
  • Calories: A 3-ounce serving of imitation crab typically contains around 80-100 calories.
  • Other nutrients: Imitation crab may also contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, and vitamin C.

Carbohydrate Content and Ketogenic Diet

One of the primary goals of the ketogenic diet is to limit carbohydrate intake to induce ketosis. To achieve and maintain ketosis, most individuals following a ketogenic diet aim to consume fewer than 50 grams of net carbs per day. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the fiber content from the total carbohydrates.

Considering the carbohydrate content of imitation crab, it is clear that it may not be the most suitable choice for those strictly following a ketogenic diet. A 3-ounce serving of imitation crab can provide around 15-20 grams of carbohydrates, which can quickly add up and potentially hinder ketosis.

Factors to Consider

While imitation crab may not be ideal for strict ketogenic dieters due to its carbohydrate content, there are a few factors to consider before completely ruling it out:

  • Portion size: The carbohydrate content of imitation crab can vary depending on the serving size. If you consume a smaller portion, you can still enjoy it occasionally while staying within your daily carb limit.
  • Individual carbohydrate tolerance: Some individuals following a ketogenic diet may have a higher carbohydrate tolerance and can include small amounts of imitation crab without being kicked out of ketosis. It is essential to monitor your body’s response and adjust accordingly.
  • Other dietary factors: If you plan your meals carefully and keep the rest of your daily carb intake low, you may be able to fit in a small portion of imitation crab without significantly impacting your ketosis.

Alternatives for Keto-friendly Seafood

If you are following a ketogenic diet and looking for seafood options that are more compatible, consider the following:

  • Fatty fish: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are excellent choices for a ketogenic diet. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and contain minimal carbohydrates.
  • Shellfish: Shrimp, crab, lobster, and other shellfish are low in carbs and high in protein, making them suitable for a ketogenic diet.
  • Fish roe: Caviar and fish roe are not only delicious but also low in carbs and high in healthy fats.

These alternatives provide a more favorable macronutrient profile for those following a ketogenic diet, ensuring that you can enjoy seafood while staying in ketosis.


Imitation crab, with its relatively high carbohydrate content, may not be the best choice for strict followers of the ketogenic diet. However, individual tolerance and portion control can allow for occasional consumption. It is crucial to consider your overall carbohydrate intake and prioritize other seafood options that are more keto-friendly. By making informed choices, you can enjoy a variety of seafood while maintaining ketosis and reaping the benefits of the ketogenic diet.