Find out what the difference between a keto diet and a gluten-free diet is, plus which labels to look for when you’re on a gluten-free diet.
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Are you just getting started with a keto or gluten-free diet and wondering if these two diets are one in the same?
Or if you’re selecting products from the store, have you been wondering if the keto labels mean they’re also gluten-free? Or do gluten-free labels mean they’re good options for a gluten-free diet?
Whether you’re getting started on either a keto or a gluten-free diet, there’s no debate that it can be confusing figuring out the “rules” for all the diets out there.
Find out the details of what a keto diet focuses on, what a gluten-free diet focuses on, and if you can make keto recipes and buy keto products on a gluten-free diet. And find out if you can make gluten-free recipes and buy gluten-free products on a keto diet.
We’ll do a deep dive to hopefully answer all the pressing questions you might have with getting started and navigating both of these diet names and terms.
What is a keto diet?
A keto diet is one where you reduce what you eat to a very low amount of carbs, replace them with fat, and burn fat for energy in a process called ketosis.
Folks who try to stick with a keto diet are generally using this for weight loss, but also can help ward off symptoms or be a preventative diet option for people trying to avoid diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
What is a gluten-free diet?
A gluten-free diet is one where you eliminate gluten from your diet. Gluten is a protein found in products that contain wheat and wheat derived ingredients. Foods like bread, baked goods, pasta, and pizza are all obvious sources of gluten.
Some lesser known places gluten can be found is in processed foods, like salad dressings, jarred sauces, boxed rice mixes, or seasoning mixes.
Read on: What is gluten?
Is keto gluten-free?
Some people confuse a keto diet and a gluten-free diet, because a keto diet naturally reduces the carbs in the diet and many foods with gluten contain a decent amount of carbs.
That said, a keto diet may still include gluten or foods that have gluten-containing ingredients.
An example of this might be beef jerky or sausage, soup or broth bought from the store, or other processed meats. Gluten might not be a main ingredient, but still contain gluten in smaller amounts from flavorings added to the product.
While it is possible to be on both a gluten-free diet and a keto diet, they aren’t terms that are necessarily used interchangeably.
If you’re trying to stick with a gluten-free diet, you don’t necessarily need to reduce the carbs in your diet. Just like on a keto diet, you won’t necessarily be looking to find gluten-free products. If you can tolerate gluten, you may not make this a priority in your diet.
That said, if you want to eliminate gluten while being on a keto diet, it’s actually not hard since you’re already reducing your intake of carbs in general. To do this, you’d make sure that packaged foods you buy don’t have any hidden sources of gluten in them. Or you could look for a gluten-free label to make quick decisions about what to buy.
It might be slightly more effort to go keto while already on a gluten-free diet. That’s because so many folks who switch to a gluten-free diet for health reasons are trying to replace the carbs in their diet with other gluten-free options, like gluten-free bread or naturally gluten-free grains like rice or quinoa.
One of my little secrets is that I carry around a copy of my GFDF Take Along Cards so that I always have a point of reference when I can sneak a peek at the ingredient list of a food.
What are the main differences between a keto diet and a gluten-free diet?
The main differences between a keto diet and a gluten-free diet are the priorities of each.
While the keto diet focuses on high protein and high fat foods, a gluten-free diet is simply only out to eliminate gluten which could or could not include high protein and high fat foods.
A gluten-free diet may still include plenty of carbs from gluten-free grains and gluten-free substitutes like gluten-free pasta, bread, or pizza.
Just the same, a keto diet may still include gluten if a processed food, like a protein bar, contains small amounts of gluten as a flavoring, preservative, or to enhance texture.
Read on: Gluten-free protein bars
Are keto foods gluten-free?
No, not all keto food options are gluten-free. You may find some keto foods that are processed are gluten-free, but there’s no guarantee that just because a food is keto that it’s also gluten-free.
Keto foods prioritize the protein and fat content, so the food could or could not also contain gluten-containing ingredients. An example of this might be a keto pizza crust.
A keto pizza crust you get at a restaurant or frozen at the store might contain the main ingredients of eggs, cauliflower, cheese, and some flour for binding.
While the main ingredients are naturally gluten-free, there is still some flour that contains gluten in that product, making it not a good option for folks who are on a gluten-free diet for health reasons.
Another example might be a protein bar or snack option. Let’s say you buy a keto protein bar in a chocolate crunch flavor. Most of the ingredients may be gluten-free, but the ingredients used to make that bar crunchy will probably contain some kind of crispy barley malt, which contains gluten.
One protein bar might be gluten-free from a brand, while another might contain gluten. Oftentimes these products are processed on shared equipment, so if someone is gluten-free due to celiac disease or extremely sensitive to gluten with a food intolerance, this brand of protein bar would have to be avoided due to cross contamination on shared equipment.
Should I buy gluten-free foods on a keto diet?
This is up to the individual. If a person is trying to stick with a keto diet, buying gluten-free options may be a good idea but isn’t always necessary. Many keto foods may be naturally gluten-free, while others aren’t.
Depending on your own individual health goals and how your body reacts to gluten, you might decide to find only foods that suit both a keto diet and a gluten-free diet.
If you can tolerate gluten, you might opt for not worrying about finding gluten-free options as long as they aren’t the main ingredients and adding carbs to your diet where you don’t want them.
Can I buy keto foods on a gluten-free diet?
Sometimes yes! This will depend on the product and the manufacturer. I’m specifically speaking of processed foods here, because many foods that are good options for a keto diet are naturally gluten-free.
When it comes to foods that are marketed as keto foods, you may or may not be able to eat them on a gluten-free diet. Foods like a keto pizza crust may or may not contain any gluten ingredients, so it’s always a good idea to review ingredients lists or check the packaging for a gluten-free label.
On a gluten-free diet, a gluten-free label indicates that the product has been tested for gluten and there is less than 20 ppm of gluten in that product.
If you’ve been wondering if a keto diet is the same as a gluten-free diet, I hope this information has been helpful for you. While they aren’t one in the same there can be cross over and someone can definitely follow both a gluten-free diet and a keto diet concurrently.