How many carbohydrates are in a serving of Meat Loaf?

Meat loaf is a classic American dish made from a mixture of ground meat and other ingredients baked into a loaf shape. It’s a hearty and comforting meal that can be a good source of protein. However, the carbohydrate content of meat loaf can vary quite a bit depending on the specific recipe used.

What Is Meat Loaf?

Meat loaf is typically made from a blend of ground beef, pork, veal or turkey mixed with bread crumbs or oats, eggs, onions, and seasoning. Some recipes may also include other vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, or carrots. The meat mixture is formed into a loaf pan and baked until cooked through and lightly browned.

Traditional meat loaf recipes use bread crumbs or oats to help bind the mixture together. The type and amount of breadcrumbs or oats used impact the total carbohydrate content. Meat loaf can be topped with a tomato sauce or ketchup glaze, which also adds more carbohydrates.

Meat Loaf Ingredients That Contain Carbohydrates

Here are some of the most common meat loaf ingredients that contain carbohydrates:

  • Bread crumbs – Plain white bread crumbs contain about 15g net carbs per 1/4 cup. Panko or whole wheat crumbs are slightly lower.
  • Oats – Uncooked old fashioned oats contain about 15g net carbs per 1/4 cup.
  • Onions – One small onion contains around 7g net carbs.
  • Bell peppers – One small bell pepper has around 5g net carbs.
  • Carrots – One small carrot has about 4g net carbs.
  • Ketchup or tomato sauce – Around 4g net carbs per tablespoon.

Any other veggies added to meat loaf will also contribute some carbohydrates. The bread crumbs usually end up being one of the main sources of carbs in meat loaf.

How Many Carbs In Meat Loaf Recipes

The amount of carbohydrates in a serving of meatloaf can range quite a bit based on the specific recipe. Here are some estimates for common meat loaf recipes:

Traditional Meat Loaf

A traditional homemade meat loaf made with 1/2 cup bread crumbs contains around 15-20g net carbs per 4-6 ounce serving.

Lower Carb Meat Loaf

Recipes using less breadcrumbs, around 1/4 cup, can lower the carbs to around 10-15g net carbs per serving.

Meat Loaf with Oats

If using oats instead of bread crumbs, a serving may contain around 15-20g net carbs, depending on the amount of oats.

Meat Loaf with Vegetables

Adding lots of low carb vegetables like mushrooms, spinach or cauliflower can lower the net carbs to around 5-10g per serving.

Gluten-Free Meat Loaf

A gluten-free meat loaf made with almond flour or coconut flour instead of breadcrumbs will be lower in carbs, around 5-10g net carbs per serving.

How to Reduce Carbs in Meat Loaf

Here are some tips for lowering the carb count in meat loaf:

  • Use fewer breadcrumbs or replace with crushed pork rinds or almond flour.
  • Swap in more vegetables for some of the breadcrumbs.
  • Skip the ketchup or tomato sauce glaze.
  • Serve meat loaf with a lower carb side dish instead of mashed potatoes.
  • Opt for a smaller portion size if carbs are a concern.

Nutrition Facts For Meat Loaf

Here is the nutrition information for a typical 4 ounce serving of meat loaf made with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs:

Calories 230
Fat 13g
Carbs 15g
Fiber 1g
Net carbs 14g
Protein 18g

As you can see, a serving of traditional meat loaf contains around 15g net carbs. This comes mostly from the breadcrumbs. If using less breadcrumbs and more vegetables, you could likely drop the net carbs to under 10g per serving.

Meat Loaf Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly a food causes increases in blood sugar. Meat loaf typically has a moderate GI of around 50-60. This is due to the carbs coming mostly from breadcrumbs.

However, the GI doesn’t tell the whole story. The moderate amount of protein and fat in meat loaf helps slow digestion and blood sugar spikes. Overall meat loaf is not considered a high glycemic food.

Keto Friendly Meat Loaf Recipes

For people on a very low carb or ketogenic diet, traditional meat loaf recipes may contain too many carbs due to the breadcrumbs. However, there are ways to enjoy meat loaf and stay keto-friendly.

Here are some tips for keto meat loaf recipes:

  • Use toasted almond flour instead of breadcrumbs.
  • Add riced cauliflower or grated zucchini to help bind.
  • Bake meat loaf in a muffin pan for keto meatloaf muffins.
  • Top with an avocado salsa instead of ketchup glaze.
  • Mix in spinach, mushrooms and onions for extra flavor.

With some adjustments, meat loaf can definitely be adapted to fit into a keto diet.

Low Carb Meat Loaf Side Dishes

In addition to modifying the meat loaf itself, choosing lower carb side dishes can help control carbs.

Some keto-friendly meat loaf sides include:

  • Sauteed spinach
  • Green salad
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower mash
  • Zucchini noodles

Pairing meat loaf with non-starchy vegetables and salads instead of bread, pasta or potatoes can help manage carb intake at meals.

Is Meat Loaf Good For Diabetes?

Meat loaf can be part of a diabetes-friendly diet when prepared properly. The key is limiting the carbs from breadcrumbs and glazes and focusing on the protein and vegetables. Here are some tips for making meat loaf more diabetes-friendly:

  • Use just 1/4 cup breadcrumbs per loaf
  • Sub in riced cauliflower for half the breadcrumbs
  • Skip the sugary ketchup glaze
  • Serve with non-starchy vegetables
  • Check blood sugar levels after eating to see your response

With a modified lower carb recipe, meat loaf can be an option for some people with diabetes. But it’s best to monitor your individual response.

Low Carb Meat Loaf Recipe

This recipe for Easy Low Carb Meat Loaf uses just 1/4 cup breadcrumbs so each serving has only around 5g net carbs.


  • 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, garlic powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well combined.
  3. Transfer meat mixture to a loaf pan and shape into a loaf.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, until meat loaf reaches 160°F internally.
  5. Allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

Each serving of this Easy Low Carb Meat Loaf has around 5g net carbs from the small amount of breadcrumbs. It makes a perfect keto or diabetes-friendly meat loaf.


The amount of carbs in meat loaf can vary substantially based on the recipe. Traditional meat loaf with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs contains around 15-20g net carbs per serving. Using less breadcrumbs, more vegetables, and lower carb substitutes can reduce this to 5-10g net carbs or less.

With some modifications, meat loaf can be adapted for low carb, keto, or diabetes-friendly diets. Focus on limiting breadcrumb quantity, skipping high carb glazes, and pairing with non-starchy vegetables. Monitor your blood sugar response when eating meat loaf to determine how well it fits into your diet.

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