Can You Eat Ham on Keto? Everything You NEED TO KNOW!

image of ham on keto

Did you know people were eating ham as far back as the 5th century BC? (*)

That’s wild, and it’s surprising that ham is still very popular. But we understand you want to know what ham’s status is on the keto diet. 

You’re likely wondering:

Is ham keto-friendly? 

Short Answer:

Meat-based meals are a staple for the keto diet, and nothing screams meat more than ham. 

So, yes, ham can be consumed on the keto. 

But there are some considerations to bear in mind. Not all meat is equal, and ham is a special example of that statement. 

So without further ado, let’s dig in:

Can you eat ham on keto? 

Meat is the one thing that is ok on the keto diet, mostly because it’s a source of protein and dietary fat, two of the most important macros for the keto diet. 

But not every meat is the same, and even on the keto diet, quality would be very important. Cured meat, like ham, is something to look at closely with the keto. 

Why is ham so favored with keto?

There are a few very good reasons why ham gets so much attention with keto dieters and low-carb foodies in general. 

Reasons why ham is so popular: 

  • Ham makes for a delicious meal option that brings protein and some unsaturated fats to a dish, which greatly complements the keto diet
  • Ham contains certain important nutrients that are most often responsible for maintaining and providing helpful effects on the body (*)
  • Ham is a great and easy ingredient to implement within low-carb keto diet meal plans, especially when paired with other keto ingredients like broccoli.

Ham carbs: is ham OK for low carb, keto diet? 

In its natural state, ham meat is ideal for the keto diet. Since it’s meat, it doesn’t have that many carbs and contains high quantities of fat. 

Nutritional value for 134 grams of ham: (*

  • Carbs – 1.4 grams
  • Sugars – 1.4 grams
  • Total fats – 6.8 grams 
  • Saturated fats 1.3 grams
  • Calories – 186
  • Protein – 30 grams 
  • Cholesterol – 86 mg

So, does ham have carbs? There are not that many carbs in ham, and very little of it comes from sugars. We advise you to keep an eye out for honey ham varieties, which have more carbs. 

Higher fat content in ham makes it good for the keto diet as it has a great balance of low carb and high fat to qualify. 

What are ham varieties, and which are Keto friendly?

Ham is not only the sliced and packed variety that we find in the shop. That one is just the extremely processed one. 

More keto-friendly ham options are available in preprocessed form or with very limited processing. 

Ham varieties: 

  • Gammon – sourced from the hind leg of the pig, usually sold raw but has been cured beforehand and requires cooking to be consumed. 
  • Irish Ham (smoked ham)- a unique variety that is pickled or set in brine which gives it a famously unique flavor.
  • Prosciutto – also known as Italian ham this type is seasoned, cured with salt, and air-dried with meticulous attention to obtain a dense texture.
  • Honey Ham ( – honey or maple syrup used in the curing process; this one is the variety we suggest you avoid precisely because of its sweet ingredients.

There are certainly even more varieties than this, and we strongly advise you to make sure the ingredients used in curing them are okay for keto. (*)

Depending on how and what was used, some ham varieties can lean further from keto than others.

How can raw ham be prepared for keto? 

Ham can work perfectly to get you into ketosis. The thing to keep in mind is how it’s prepared and how much it’s been processed. 

Usually, unprocessed ham fits best with keto, especially cooked at home. 

The glaze is a staple of ham cooking, and this is where it can pose some issues with the keto diet, depending on what this glaze is made of. 

Glaze ingredients usually include: 

  • Sugar or honey 
  • Butter
  • Condiments 

The problem is that sugar and honey are specifically not keto friendly and could pose a danger to your ketosis. We don’t recommend using them for glazing.

What keto condiments can you use with ham?

Making ham at home to ensure it’s more keto will prove in many ways to be easier than getting a deli ham and wondering about its content. 

Some choice condiments for keto ham: 

  • Butter – excellent for the glaze and as keto-friendly as you can get
  • Apple cider Vinegar – provides an acidic flavor and even tenderizes the ham 
  • Dijon mustard – is a better alternative to sweet mustard or honey mustard that we suggest you use, as the sweeter one will have negative effects on ketosis.
  • Dry condiments – basil, thyme, coriander, tarragon, mint, ginger, and more can easily be used to spice up ham and still be keto.
  • Bacon – this is a little bit further from the ham in texture and appearance, but it’s an option and very keto with its high-fat content

Even with all the care in the world put into it, many will still classify ham as a dirty keto option. 

Dirty keto implies it’s not the standard low-carb, high-fat diet, but it just means staying within the keto limit for carbs, but you eat any type of food. 

What can affect a ham’s keto status? 

Processed ham will have certain additives that can affect it and make it not so keto-approved. 

Non-keto additives in ham: 

  • Modified starches
  • Sodium nitrate 
  • Sugars 
  • Honey 

We advise you to avoid these additives in general as they are harmful to your health outside of keto. 

Final thoughts

To follow the keto diet, there are many food types that do not fit and can even damage it.  

So with that in mind: is ham keto approved?

The various different types of ham can be most accurately integrated into what we call dirty keto. 

Ham can be keto, but usually, the raw variety can greatly contribute to the keto, but it can also affect it if it’s too high in sugars. 

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