Why 'Keto-Approved' Food Labels are Misleading, According to a Nutritionist

The ketogenic diet is the trendiest diet right now, so it’s not surprising that food marketers are doing whatever they can to promote their products as keto-friendly.

One of the marketing strategies is to display official-sounding keto certifications offered by for-profit companies on packages. These healthy-sounding icons might lead uninformed shoppers to buy items emblazoned “keto-certified,” “certified ketogenic,” “keto-approved,” or “ketogenic-friendly,” rather than a similar item without the keto seal of approval.

While foods with a keto certification may seem more healthful, the label is more marketing hype than an easier way for you to maintain your keto lifestyle. Here’s why.

Achieving and maintaining a state of ketosis is highly individualized, so some people may be in ketosis on 40 grams of carbs per day while others can eat significantly more carbohydrates while maintaining a fat-burning state. Companies that pay to have a keto certification get a simple food label and nutrition facts review. If they meet arbitrary limits for net carbs or effective carbohydrates, they will be awarded use of the certification.

For example, a “keto-certified” frozen dinner can’t have more than 12 grams of carbs, while a certified snack must limit carbs to up to 8 grams per serving according to the Paleo Foundation. Another certification offered by ketogenic.com says that they conduct feeding studies with individuals, but they offer no published research to substantiate their testing methodologies.

In fact, most foods that are best for your health—no matter the diet you follow—require no special diet-related icons or logos. They include produce, lean proteins, and healthy plant-based fats. Period.

Brands that use these flimsy, scientifically unsupported designations like “keto-certified” or “keto-friendly” are relying on the fact that most shoppers aren’t reading the nutrition facts panel and ingredient lists to know what they’re actually eating.

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