Is Imitation Crab Keto Friendly?

Have you ever been to a sushi restaurant? Then you have probably heard the name- Imitation Crab. If you are not familiar with the term, do not worry! You are not the first one.

I am very fond of crab sticks and crab cake. Recently, the waiter of my favorite restaurant informed me that they belong to the same group of imitation crabs. But, as the name comes differently, the nutrition level has to be different.

As I am on a keto diet, it is my responsibility to determine, “is imitation crab keto friendly?” For those who arrived here just to seek the answer to this very same question, read this article and know whether to include imitation crabs on your keto diet list or not.

is imitation crab keto friendly

Process Of Making Imitation Crab

To know the perfect ingredients for imitation crab, you need to know what they really are. As we know that crabs consist of low carbohydrate levels, most people might often conclude that imitation crabs might also be keto friendly.

But to be honest, you are a lightyear away from the truth! First and foremost, the main ingredient that is included in imitation crabs is a gel-like structure known as Kani Surimi. To give this particular dish the original taste of a crab, the manufacturers add starch and food colorings to enhance the flavor.

Some might even say that imitation crabs are complete replicas of real crabs. But it is not. To avoid confusion, the restaurant owners termed the recipe ‘Krab’ in their menus so as not to mess it up with ‘Crab.’

process of making imitation crab

Imitation crab meat is very popular among Chinese people, and the Pollock fish is available in their region; it is used to manufacture imitation crab meats. If you are a wealthy person, you can always choose premium brands of imitation crab meats that prefer fishes like cod, mackerel, and barracuda.

An interesting fact about imitation crab is that they are sometimes compared with hot dogs as their manufacturing process and nutritional benefits are pretty similar.

Now that you have a brief idea about imitation crab, let me discuss the process of making good imitation carbs. Here go the right ingredients:


Raw imitation crab might have a firm crust that can be easily weakened with the help of water. Additionally, it is also used to increase the quantity and give the customers a hydrated taste.


As already mentioned, Kani Surimi is the prime ingredient in an imitation crab; you can starch on it to thicken the layer and enhance the taste. The primary source of starch is potato, wheat, corn, or tapioca.


As some experts suggest imitation crab for a healthy diet should have a good source of protein to contribute to the dieting. That is why the white portion of the egg is used as the protein source for imitation crabs.

Sugar And Sorbitol

Sugar and Sorbitol are used to enhance the taste of imitation crabs. Some might prefer the spicy recipe, which is possible to achieve if you add some pepper or green chili.

Vegetable Oil

Oil is used to moisturize the inside layer of imitation crabs, which makes the dish very soft and mouth-watering. Though for keto dieters, vegetable oil is considered unhealthy, and you can always choose an alternative such as natural oil like sesame oil.


It is also used to enhance the overall flavor of the dish.

Can We Consider Imitation Crab As A Healthy Food?

can we consider imitation crab as a healthy food

There is no doubt about the taste of imitation crab; they are delicious! But how much healthy are they? Compared to the regular crab, imitation crab comes with less amount of nutrients, and additionally, they are much cheaper to afford in fancy restaurants.

Therefore, for those who are health cautious, I will suggest not to crave imitation crab regularly.

Imitation Crab vs. Real Crab

For a serving size of 100 grams of imitation crab and king crab contains:

ContentsImitation CrabKing Crab
Fat1.2 grams0.6 grams
Omega 3 Fat25.5 milligrams389 milligrams
Carbohydrates20 grams0 grams
Starch6.5 grams0 grams
Added Sugar5.9 grams0 grams
Protein8.2 grams18.3 grams
Cholesterol11.8 milligrams42 milligrams
Sodium611.8 milligrams836 milligrams
Calcium94.1  milligrams46 milligrams
Potassium77 milligrams204 milligrams
Vitamin C0%12%
Vitamin B128%375%

You can get clear-cut proof from the table above that you cannot consider imitation crab a healthy food. Because in comparison to king crabs, they lack a severe level of nutrients for the human body. Still, the amount of consumption also helps to consume such healthy nutrients. If you think you want to eat imitation crab daily because of its delicious taste, make sure to consume a significant amount so that the nutrients can also be significant to take part in the human body’s well-being.

Imitation Crab- Is It Keto Friendly?

imitation crab is it keto friendly

Do you know what the keto diet is? If you want to burn the extra fat stored inside your body, a keto diet will be a perfect diet plan. To learn more about the keto diet, you need to know about the ketosis stage in the keto diet.

Ketosis is the transition point of the keto diet, where the body lacks the necessary amount of carbohydrates. You should also know that a regular intake of carbohydrates for a strict keto diet is below 20 grams.

Once you continue this carbohydrate intake for quite a long time, your body will not get sufficient carbohydrates for aerobic respiration. The body will start to burn the stored fat and protein to compensate for the respiration process.

At this point, your body will start to lose weight, known as the ketosis stage. Now, if the rules and regulations of the keto diet are not strictly maintained, the chemical reaction might counter, and instead of losing weight, you might start to gain some.

imitation crabs net carbs

Let’s look at the statistics from the above table; the carbohydrate amount in 100 grams of imitation crab is 20 grams. As you cannot eat raw imitation crab, you need to add some starch and sugar to get it ready to be cooked.

Therefore, the net carbohydrate amount in 100 grams of imitation crab is 20 grams. Unfortunately, this surpasses the marginal level of carbohydrate intake in a keto diet.

Furthermore, a strict keto diet requires increased protein and fat to get you going through ketosis. If you look at the table once again, the level of protein and fat in imitation crab is much less and not suitable for the keto diet.

So, to answer your question, “is imitation crab keto friendly?” Sorry to disappoint you that- imitation crab is considered not keto friendly.

Ups And Downs About Imitation Crab

One of the significant benefits of imitation crabs is that they cost almost half the price of original crabs on the market. They are also termed the most versatile seafood like the crab sticks, originated from imitation crab, and are easy to blend into any recipe you want.

If you do not want to engage in the hassle of cooking, there are also ready-made imitation crabs packets available in the market. Just a suitable preheat to the oven will make it suitable to enjoy the dinner.

ups and downs about imitation crab

Everyone should be concerned about their health, and to supply your body with the perfect nutrients, you must spend some extra dollars to reach out for the healthier imitation crabs in the market. Here are some of the health benefits that you can achieve from imitation crabs:

  • They consist of many natural ingredients such as starch, cane sugar, sea salt, oat fiber, and many organic flavorings that greatly benefit your health.
  • Imitation crabs are generally composed of gluten variants and not some genetically modified ingredients.
  • Imitation crabs also contain protein, an excellent source for enzyme production in the human body. Enzymes are the biological catalyst in the body that helps maintain metabolic activity rates.
  • In comparison to traditional crabs, imitation crab contains low cholesterol, reducing the chance of sudden heart attack and not blocking the arteries in the blood vessel.
  • Imitation crabs contain a sufficient amount of vitamin B12, which helps form red blood cells that act as carriers for the blood’s oxygen.
  • They also contain different metal ions, which help in the body’s metabolism.

Unlike every seafood, imitation crab also has some negative impacts, which you must be aware of. Here are some important health drawbacks of imitation crab:

  • There are numerous additives in the composition of imitation crabs, and some might be harmful. Some of the effects include leaky gut and inflammation, which in turn can cause liver cancer.
  • Since imitation crabs contain gluten, some people might be allergic to gluten. If they consume a significant amount of gluten, they might end up with diarrhea, bloating, or fatigue.
  • Vegetable oil is among the many prime ingredients of imitation crab. This type of oil contains a huge amount of cholesterol, resulting in blockage in the heart and increasing the danger of heart attack.
  • Some version of imitation crab also contains MSG flavorings which spice up the taste. If you are allergic to MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), you might carry symptoms such as extreme headache, muscle numbness, weakness, or dizziness.
  • Imitation crab does not contain any fiber for the human body, and fiber generally decreases the GI of a food and makes it suitable for the keto diet. As imitation crab lacks fiber, it raises blood sugar in the body, and here is one other reason for this food not being keto friendly.

Alternatives Of Imitation Crab

substitute of imitation crab

Is imitation crab keto friendly? No! Then what is the next step? Should you skip the keto diet? Don’t be that much silly. It’s my job to make your life less troublesome. Here goes a list of the suitable alternative to imitation crab for the keto diet.

They can synchronize the net carbohydrate level with the marginal requirement of the keto diet. Hence, they can help you lose weight at a much faster rate.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can we consider imitation crab to be vegetarian food?

As you will see, the composition’s main ingredients of imitation crab are made to give a real seafood flavor of the crab. Therefore, imitation crab is non-vegetarian.

2. Can we consider imitation crab meat on a low carbohydrate diet?

Unfortunately, the net carbohydrate level in 100 grams of imitation crab is 20 grams. Therefore, a low carbohydrate diet, such as a keto diet, will not be suitable if you include imitation crab meat in the diet plan.

 3. Does crab stick contain low carbohydrates?

You can consider crab sticks as a variant of imitation crab. As we already know, imitation crab contains high carbohydrate levels; being a variant will not make any difference. Therefore, crab stick does not contain low carbohydrates.

4. Is it viable to eat imitation crab for losing weight?

You will start to lose weight when your body lacks carbohydrate levels. But unfortunately, imitation crab contains a high amount of carbohydrate intake, and hence eating too much of it will gradually result in weight gain.

5. Can we eat imitation crab salad for the keto diet?

Imitation crab contains a high intake level of carbohydrates. As the keto diet tells you to lower the carbohydrate level, eating its salad will be breaking the rules of the keto diet.

6. Which imitation crab brand is suitable for the keto diet?

No matter which brand of imitation crab you use, they all have a high carbohydrate intake. So, any brand of imitation crab is not suitable for the keto diet.

7. How long will imitation crab last in the fridge?

Imitation crab can last up to three to five days in the refrigerator if well preserved. Additionally, frozen imitation crabs last for more than six months.

8. Can we eat imitation crab raw?

Unfortunately, no. As they require different ingredients during the manufacturing process, you cannot eat an imitation crab raw unless it is cooked.

Final Thoughts

Is imitation crab keto friendly? They can be suitable for the keto diet if the carbohydrate level does not surpass the marginal level. They also contain many advantages over health, and most importantly, they taste delicious!

But researchers say that most people cannot maintain the intake level of carbohydrates in case of imitation crab, and hence they are not keto friendly.

I hope this article helps you greatly in your version of the keto diet. Enjoy!

Hey there. I am a registered doctor and founder of this site. The main goal of this site is to help individuals with good food habits, diet, and nutrition. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, exploring different food recipes and diets.

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