We’ve all had them at some point in our lives. The salty, crunchy, delicious bites we call crackers have been a staple in the American diet since the beginning of time, so it seems. What is it about crackers that allow us to mindlessly stuff them into our mouth handfuls at a time? Then before you know it, you’ve somehow managed to eat half the box — yet you still crave more.
What Are Crackers?
You may see crackers called a variety of different names, including biscuits, flatbreads, pitas, wafers, triscuits, wheat thins and more. Crackers are a baked food, often times made from different types of flour, making them a relative of grains. Crackers gained their popularity from their ability to be eaten and served with almost any other meal as well as being a nice snack all by themselves.
While there are a large variety of crackers out there today, one will find that they are all made relatively the same. Takee saltine crackers for example. These square crackers are made with white flour, yeast and salt.
Flour and yeast? Yikes.
Make sure to remain on the lookout for crackers made with leaven or yeast. Saltine crackers in particular are baked with white flour, but then start the process of fermentation with the addition of yeast and is then left to rise for 20 to 30 hours.
The majority of crackers you see today are made out of enriched flour. Why should you stay away from this popular ingredient? This flour increases blood sugar levels, causes weight gain, damages your digestive health, increases your chances of developing a food intolerance and can even cause inflammation.
Research is coming out showing just how much inflammation is responsible for. But first of all, what is inflammation?
While inflammation naturally occurs within the body, too much of it can create harm to different functions in the body. Certain things such as a poor diet, stress, food allergies and being inactive are key causes of chronic inflammation. Foods that typically cause inflammation include pasteurized dairy, refined carbohydrates (including crackers), conventional meat (grain-fed cows), sugars and trans fats.
Harmful ingredients? Check.
Low carb friendly? Let’s take a closer look.
Using the previous example of saltine crackers, the macronutrient value seems to match up in accordance to the lack of micronutrients they offer. One saltine cracker (around ten grams) makes up a total of 42 calories including seven grams of net carbs, less than one gram of fiber, less than one gram of fat and only one gram of protein. As you can tell, there’s not much nutritional value to this flour-based food.
How And When Do Crackers Fit Into a Low Carb or Ketogenic Diet?
However, not all crackers are created equal. Take the classic Ritz cracker, for example. One serving of these crackers is about five crackers (or 16 grams). Five crackers is a total of 79 calories, including ten grams of net carbs, less than one gram of fiber, around four grams of fat and one gram of protein.
Are you starting a low carb or ketogenic diet and worried you won’t be able to enjoy your faithful Ritz crackers? Well there’s hope. With five crackers coming out to only ten carbs, you’ll be able to enjoy this light snack without worrying about getting kicked out of ketosis — as long as the rest of your carb limit is in line, that is. For individuals following a keto diet, you’ll need to maintain a carb intake of no more than 50 grams of carbs per day.
As you spend more and more time in ketosis you’ll be able to listen to your body more and realize how many carbs you can have until you’re kicked out of ketosis — everyone is different.
When Should Crackers Be Avoided in a Low Carb or Ketogenic Diet?
When it comes to the ketogenic diet, there are a few different types. The standard keto diet (SKD) requires a low carb, high fat and moderate protein intake. This means no more than 50 grams of carbs per day. This is the diet individuals just starting a keto diet should follow in order to effectively get into ketosis.
However, the targeted keto diet (TKD) and cyclical keto diet (CKD) allow for a bit more wiggle room when it comes to carbohydrates. The TKD is meant for individuals with a more active lifestyle — allowing an extra 20-50 grams of carbs up to an hour before and after your exercise window.
For athletes training at high intensities, this may still not be enough for their activity. This is where the CKD comes into play. The CKD follows a typical SKD, five days a week, with the other two days consisting of high carb, low fat and moderate protein intake. These two carb loading days allow for a carb intake of anywhere between 400 and 600 carbs over a 24 to 48 hour period.
So Are Crackers Low Carb or Keto Friendly?
When it comes to deciding whether or not crackers are low carb or keto friendly, there are few factors to look at.
First, it depends on the cracker. Some crackers will definitely be higher in carbs than others, therefore making them much less keto or low carb friendly. However, to use the example of Ritz crackers, they can be eaten in small amounts. While you should still avoid them on the SKD, having crackers directly after your workout window on the TKD or on your carb loading days on the CKD would be fine as long as you ate them in moderation.
If you’re really craving crackers on a low carb or ketogenic diet, try some of the top low carb cracker substitutes that are out there today. These alternatives will leave you fulfilled and satiated without feeling deprived of your favorite high carb snack.
To be clear, crackers are not low carb or keto friendly.