Is Shrimp Keto? Carb Counts for Popular Shrimp Meals

Is Shrimp Keto? Carb Counts for Popular Shrimp Meals

Keto diets focused on eating high fat and low in carbs have led to weight loss and a myriad of other health benefits for many. The Keto diet requires cutting carbs to 50 grams or less per day so that the body burns fat for energy rather than carbs.

With this in mind, understanding the carb counts of common foods is essential. Whether you count macros or follow a fully keto diet, you’ll need to know what foods to eat to stay in ketosis. If you’re curious about shrimp and whether it’s safe to eat on a low-carb diet, read on.

Does Shrimp Work on a Keto Diet?

Is shrimp keto? If you’re following a keto diet, shrimp is keto-friendly, virtually carb-free, and very low in fat and calories. Healthy, clean proteins like shrimp make it painless to limit carbs, and the low fat and calorie counts mean you can manage weight while feeling full and enjoying fantastic meals. 

Bonus: shrimp also contains lots of nutrients, including vitamin B12, folate, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids to help your heart and brain function properly.

Of course, the way you prepare shrimp affects its carb count. Shrimp is great for you, but if you dunk it in beer batter and deep fry it, the carb count skyrockets, and your waistline and long-term health can suffer. On the other hand, whipping up keto lemon pepper shrimp leaves you with a tempting meal that’s healthy and keto-friendly. 

lemon pepper shrimp meal

Shrimp is easy to cook and works in so many dishes; whatever cuisine you’re in the mood for, shrimp will fit right in. The American Heart Association notes that fish and shellfish, including shrimp, are lower in saturated fat than red meat. Learning delicious ways to prepare shrimp can improve your low-carb lifestyle.

Shrimp Carb Count & Nutrition Facts 

So, is shrimp low-carb? Definitely.

Shrimp has just 0.2 grams of carbs in a 3-ounce serving; although shrimp come in different sizes, this is roughly 3-5 shrimp. Shrimp has less than a gram of fat per serving that comes from omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats that are beneficial to your body. Additionally, a 3-ounce serving has 85 calories and 20 grams of lean protein, making shrimp an ideal choice for low-carb meal plans. Shrimp is packed with nutrients, including:

  • Iron, needed to produce hemoglobin
  • Potassium, for healthy nerve function, heartbeat, and blood pressure
  • Zinc, for cell growth and immune support
  • Magnesium, for regulating blood sugar levels
  • Iodine for thyroid function
  • Vitamin B12 for energy, brain function, and blood cell production
  • Folate, which helps RNA and DNA form, also needed for pregnancy
  • Calcium, for healthy bones
  • Selenium, an antioxidant that helps fight cell damage

Grilled vs. Boiled Shrimp Carbs

Preparation matters if your goal is keeping shrimp low-carb. Creating keto-friendly meals is easier the closer you stick to foods in their natural form; using our first example above, stir-frying shrimp will keep carbs in check better than battering and frying will. Grilling and boiling shrimp are great ways to cook shrimp because they don’t add many ingredients (other than seasonings you enjoy) that could up the carbs. 

Boiled: boiled shrimp are great for salads, dipping, or as an appetizer, and since you just drop them in boiling water for a few minutes, they couldn’t be easier to cook. Anyone looking to keep shrimp low in carbs will rejoice; 3 ounces of boiled shrimp comes in at just 1.4 grams of carbs.

Grilled: warm weather calls for grilling, and tossing marinated shrimp on the grill adds flavor and texture to your meal, whether you’re making fajitas, kebabs, or surf and turf. It might surprise you that grilled shrimp has only 1.3 grams of carbs per 3-ounce serving, but remember, that means marinating without high-carb sauces, like BBQ or other condiments high in sugar.

Carb Counts for Shrimp Dishes 

shrimp in bowl

As we already know, shrimp is virtually carb-free, but the devil is in the details. Boiled and grilled shrimp are very keto-friendly, but other recipes might send carbs soaring. Let’s look at the carb count in beloved shrimp dishes to see how they fit into low-carb eating.

Carbs in Shrimp Scampi 

Shrimp scampi is a simple but incredibly flavorful dish made with shrimp, butter, garlic, and white wine. These are all keto-friendly ingredients; a one-cup serving of scampi provides just 0.01 grams of carbs. However, most people love scampi on a bed of pasta or white rice, something low-carb eaters want to avoid. Creative cooks can make shrimp scampi with cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles to keep the meal keto.

Fried Shrimp Carbs

Not surprisingly, fried shrimp aren’t keto-friendly, clocking in at almost 40 grams of carbs per serving. If you aim to stay under 50 grams for the entire day, this is one shrimp dish you probably should avoid. Fried shrimp should be a rare treat for everyone, considering the calorie count: while a serving of boiled shrimp is 85 calories, the same serving of fried costs over 500 calories.

Carbs in Coconut Shrimp

Although coconut is often used for keto recipes, it doesn't mean that coconut shrimp is keto-friendly. These delectable appetizers are deep-fried shrimp coated in a mix of panko crumbs and coconut, so along with upping the calorie count, the carb count shoots to 31 grams per serving. There are ways to make keto versions of coconut shrimp by substituting coconut flour and keto bread but remember to use unsweetened coconut.

Shrimp Cocktail Carbs

Shrimp cocktail, a simple appetizer of boiled shrimp dipped in cocktail sauce, is healthy and low calorie. However, the cocktail sauce is the rub for those looking to eat low-carb. It’s yummy and easy to make: ketchup, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Unfortunately, ketchup is the villain here, adding carbs in the form of sugar. Unless you make your own with no-sugar-added ketchup, a quarter cup of cocktail sauce will cost you 19 grams of carbs

Carbs in Shrimp Tempura

Tempura shrimp, a Japanese version of battered, deep-fried shrimp, has a light, puffy batter made from flour, egg, and ice water. This combination takes the carb count to 31 grams for four pieces of shrimp, so ordering this dish at your favorite Japanese steakhouse is probably the wrong choice for keto dieters. 

Shrimp Benefits on a Keto Diet 

Shrimp is healthy and nutritious for everyone, especially those counting macros or following a keto diet. While keto diets rely heavily on fat, making us think of bacon, steaks, and cheese, eating protein sources low in fat makes keeping calories in check easier. Also, since shrimp has almost no fat, you’ll eat fewer saturated animal fats, which cause high cholesterol and heart disease.  The protein in shrimp helps the body build muscle and keeps you feeling full longer so you can manage weight loss and a leaner physique. Other benefits include:

  1. It’s Full of antioxidants. Antioxidants in shrimp, such as astaxanthin, can protect against skin damage, boost your immune system, and lower the risk of heart disease.
  2. It’s heart-healthy. If you’ve heard that shrimp has too much cholesterol and eating it will give you high cholesterol, new research has debunked the myth. High cholesterol counts come from eating saturated fat, like red meat, butter, and cheese, not from foods containing cholesterol.
  3. It’s a clean protein. Shrimp is a whole food with no added ingredients. Natural, unprocessed food is optimal for any healthy eating plan, but especially for anyone tracking carbs and other macros. Be sure to shop for shrimp brands with transparent farming practices so you know you’re getting quality protein.
  4. It’s versatile. Shrimp works in so many recipes you’ll never get bored. It works across cuisines, seasonings, and types of meals, or you can snack on it with any simple dipping sauce.
  5. It’s easy to cook. Shrimp makes meals simple. When buying shrimp, opt for brands that offer peeled and deveined shrimp so you don't have to deal with the hassle. Prime Shrimp offers ready-to-cook shrimp in seasoned and unseasoned varieties so you'll have a great meal in no time. 

Low-Carb Shrimp Recipe Ideas

shrimp salad low carb


Now that you know shrimp makes an ideal choice for keto-friendly meals, let’s talk about easy ways to use shrimp in delicious meals the whole family will love. Prime Shrimp is shrimp made simple, with flavors perfect for a wide variety of recipes, or plain shrimp you can season any way you want. All of our shrimp comes peeled, deveined, and ready to cook in a bag, sous-vide style.

  • Keto isn’t complete without bacon – try Shrimp and Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing for a main dish salad you’ll love. Crunchy with red peppers and almonds and savory with spicy shrimp and spinach softened from a tasty bacon vinaigrette, this salad is a party on your plate.
  • If you’re looking for a spicy flavor perfect for any meal, Prime Shrimp Louisiana Boil Cajun Shrimp is 100% keto and ready to eat in minutes. It cooks right in a bag for a no-fuss meal; add any veggies and sides and get ready to feel like you’re down on the bayou.
  • Looking for a classic meal for guests? It doesn’t get much better than Easy Sheet Pan Surf and Turf, combining steak, shrimp, and veggies on one tray for an easy meal that makes cleanup a snap. This recipe uses sweet potatoes, which you can omit for keto; add broccoli or Brussels sprouts instead.
  • A bowl of soup hits the spot on a chilly night or for a quick lunch. Try Bok Choy Cabbage Shrimp Soup for a light and filling meal full of healthy veggies and flavor that will get you wishing winter would last forever.  
  • When you long for Chinese takeout but want to stay keto, Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice is the best of both worlds. Shrimp stir-fried with veggies and cauliflower rice, seasoned with coconut aminos, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and crumbles of scrambled egg make a meal that tastes like your favorite fried rice but is clean and low carb.
  • If you want a light lunch in the summer or want an impressive appetizer, Cajun Shrimp Stuffed Avocado fits the bill. Sauté shrimp with Cajun seasonings, then add a creamy dressing of mayo, sour cream, and lime juice. This zingy shrimp salad nestles into avocado boats for a simple but wow-worthy meal. 
  • One way to make keto eating easy is always to have low-carb options ready when hunger strikes. Shrimp Meal-Prep with Zucchini Noodles is a light meal on the go or any time you need a pick-me-up. Garlic-lime shrimp, quick-cooking zucchini noodles, fresh homemade salsa, and delicious yogurt dressing are ready in no time and ensure you’ll have fresh, healthy options at your fingertips.
  • If you miss pasta while eating keto, Low Carb Shrimp Alfredo will cheer you up. Spaghetti squash is a great keto sub for your favorite pasta, and combining garlicky shrimp with Alfredo sauce and broccoli makes this dish delicious and filling. Pressed for time? Prime Shrimp Garlic Herb Butter Shrimp cooks sous-vide style while you make the rest of the meal.

Kick Your Keto Meals Up a Notch with Prime Shrimp

For delicious low-carb shrimp meals, Prime Shrimp has you covered. Shop our selection of cook-in-bag shrimp in multiple flavor varieties. Ready in minutes and filled with flavor, our shrimp is the clean protein you’ve been waiting for.