Are Mussels Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

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There are a variety of seafood options you can eat when getting healthier. Find out whether mussels are a good choice for ketogenic diets.

Interestingly enough, mussels are one of the few types of seafood that contain carbohydrates. Other options and animal meats are typically carb-free.

More specifically, 100 grams of cooked mussels contain around 7.4 grams of carbohydrates. For most people, this is actually not that keto-friendly.

Mussels do still contain nice amounts of vitamins, minerals, and protein.

For these reasons, you could consider implementing amounts of mussels that are small enough to stay in ketosis anyway.

That being said, you can also choose one of the more keto-friendly seafood alternatives instead.

Total and net carbs in mussels

To figure out whether mussels are keto-friendly and in what amounts, you need to know their total and net carb counts.

100 grams of cooked mussels contain the following amounts of carbs (1):

  • Total carbs: 7.4 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0 grams
  • Net carbs: 7.4 grams

In combination with the other foods you eat, the 7.4 grams of carbohydrates in mussels will often be enough to kick you out of ketosis.

Interestingly enough, mussels are one of the few kinds of seafood that contain carbohydrates. Seafood and animal meat often contain 0 grams of carbs. Mussels are an exception.

One ounce of mussels is about 28 grams and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 2.1 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0 grams
  • Net carbs: 2.1 grams

As you can expect, consuming smaller portions of mussels will also mean you are eating fewer carbohydrates.

This makes it easier (but not necessarily possible) to fit mussels into a ketogenic diet.

Whether or not and in what amounts you should eat mussels on a ketogenic diet depends on the other foods you consume, your body, and how many of your daily carbs you want to get from them.

Other nutrients in mussels

It is easy to only focus on the amounts of carbohydrates in foods when following a ketogenic diet.

Even so, you want to keep in mind that other nutrients like fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals also still play important roles. Both in terms of staying in ketosis and general health goals.

100 grams of cooked mussels contain the following nutrients (1):

  • Calories: 172
  • Protein: 23.8 grams
  • Carbs: 7.4 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 0 grams
  • Fat: 4.5 grams
  • Vitamin B12: 400% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Manganese: 340% of the DV
  • Selenium: 128% of the DV
  • Iron: 37% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 28% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

Mussels contain relatively high amounts of important nutrients compared to many other whole foods.

This could convince you to make the effort of adding small amounts of mussels to your ketogenic diet anyway.

Why you can sometimes eat mussels on keto

To understand why mussels are not just never keto-friendly and how to avoid overdoing it with them, going over the ketogenic diet fundamentals can be helpful.

Ketogenic diets are a type of low-carb diet where you lower your carbohydrate intake with the goal of getting into ketosis. This is a state where your body mainly uses fat as fuel (2).

Being in ketosis leads to some interesting internal states that can be helpful for certain goals and situations.

How low your carbohydrate intake needs to be and how much you need to eat of other nutrients to get into ketosis can vary a lot from individual to individual.

For example, if you have a lot of muscle and you are very tall, you will generally be able to eat more grams of carbohydrates before getting out of ketosis.

This ketogenic diet fact makes things more complicated but there are still some imperfect general guidelines that are helpful to get some idea of what to do.

A typical recommendation to get into ketosis is to get 55%-60% of your calories from fat, 30%-35% from protein, and 5%-10% from carbohydrates.

This will often mean eating a maximum of around 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day.

These amounts generally don’t include grams of fiber since these tend to be digested differently. However, since mussels do not contain any fiber, this is not that important in this context.

How to avoid eating too many mussels

If you want to stay in ketosis with a diet that includes mussels, you will likely have to implement some portion control when it comes to this food.

Just preparing a big pot of mussels with your favorite herbs, spices, and other ingredients and hoping that you don’t eat too much will generally not be a successful strategy.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your mussel consumption under control:

  • Estimate how many grams of mussels would fit into your keto diet.
  • Set a portion of the dish with this amount of mussels apart. Put the rest of the mussels somewhere else.
  • If you have trouble resisting extra portions you could consider buying and/or preparing mussels in smaller amounts.

Even when following these tips, you may get out of ketosis.

In that case, you may need to lower the grams of mussels you eat, pay more attention to portion control, or make changes in the rest of your diet and lifestyle habits.

Substitutes for mussels on keto

Mussels can be delicious seafood that offers a variety of valuable nutrients but they are not completely unique in this.

You have a few other options that are not always the same in taste or texture taste but can be better choices on a ketogenic diet.

You can find a few examples in the list below. The amounts of carbohydrates next to the mussel substitutes are the net carb values per 100 grams. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

  • Salmon: 0 grams of net carbs
  • Tilapia: 0 grams of net carbs
  • Tuna: 0 grams of net carbs
  • Shrimp: 0.2 grams of net carbs
  • Lobster: 0 grams of net carbs
  • Cod fish: 0 grams of net carbs

If you enjoy these foods as much or more than mussels, they can be great substitutes for a ketogenic diet. In terms of carbs, you can eat these foods in very large amounts.

At the same time, it is worth noting that eating other foods too can make your diet more balanced in terms of nutrients.

Why do you follow a keto diet?

By now it should be clear that mussels can somewhat easily kick you out of ketosis. Whether this is an issue and to what extent depends on why you follow a keto diet.

There are individuals who really want/need to stay in ketosis 24/7. If you are in this category, you want to be careful about your carb intake and mussels are likely not a good choice.

On the other hand, mussels tend to be good for weight loss and health. Even if they raise your carbohydrate consumption too much to stay in ketosis.

Are mussels low-carb?

Mussels contain around 7.4 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams. There are worse food options but mussels are not that low-carb.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.