When you think of starting a diet, you automatically assume that you will have to bid goodbye to your old ways and favorite foods. However, this may or may not be true when it comes to a keto diet! Various things are surprisingly allowed during keto, and other innocuous things are not.
But what about beverages, you may wonder? Surely Kombucha – the drink that is known to improve gastrointestinal health is safe to drink during your keto diet, right? Well, depends on whether the adult beverage is keto or not.
Is Kombucha keto friendly? It depends on the method via which it is brewed and what it contains! Considering it is a form of sweet tea, it is bound to have some sugar in it – which puts it in a grey territory with keto anyway. But, just how much sugar it has governs whether or not it is keto-friendly.
Let’s explore this a bit more, shall we?
But First, What is Kombucha?
Whether or not is kombucha keto is a question that should ideally come after understanding what the beverage is, to begin with. If you are already an avid kombucha drinker, I would advise you to skip this section. For the rest of you, here is an overview of the drink that has slowly been increasing in popularity.
Crash Couse on Kombucha
Simply put, Kombucha is a fermented drink that is made from sugar, tea, yeast, and bacteria. The mixture of these ingredients creates a liquid rich in vitamin B and vinegar. It is available in various flavors, which makes it a favorite of many.
Compared to a carbonated drink, it is considered to be a fairly low-calorie beverage which is why the question of whether or not is kombucha keto even a question worth pondering over!
And there is a history behind it too! In fact, the drink can be traced back to as early as 220 B.C. Initially, it was thought to have marvelous health benefits like managing cancer or blood pressure. But these benefits aren’t yet backed by evidence. However, it has various probiotic benefits, like improving gastrointestinal health.
How is it made?
Do you wish to learn more about the Kombucha-making process? Well, it begins by adding tea leaves, sugar, and water. Different brands use varying tea leaves, and this is why many kombuchas taste different.
After brewing the tea, yeast and bacteria are added to it to begin the symbiotic process whereby the sugar from the concoction feeds the bacteria to allow for its growth. Excessive fermentation also allows for carbonation to occur, creating fizziness in the beverage that we are accustomed to.
This occurs because most of the added sugar is consumed by the yeast during the fermentation process, creating alcohol and carbon dioxide. The alcohol production is what gives Kombucha its classic tart taste, while the remaining sugar makes it slightly sweet.
This is where things start to vary. While some manufacturers add additional sweeteners to the drink to make it sweeter, others don’t.
Snapshot of Nutritional Profile
Is Kombucha keto friendly? I’d say it is first important to see if the beverage has any beneficial nutrients, to begin with. And if its nutrients have any red flags in terms of keto requirements. For this, you need to know its nutritional profile.
Overall, Kombucha is devoid of any fats, protein, or fiber. However, it does contain carbs and added sugar (depending on the manufacturer).
Is Kombucha Keto Friendly?
This brings us back to the question I posed in the beginning – is kombucha keto friendly? I have mentioned that the answer to this question isn’t a resounding no or yes. Instead, it depends on the Kombucha in question.
But then, how would you know whether the Kombucha you want to drink is keto or not? Simple. You just need to understand the keto process beyond being just another diet.
The Keto Process
The keto diet relies on your body undergoing the ketosis process – breaking down fat instead of carbohydrates for energy.
To do this, this diet encourages people to cut back on their net carb intake and increase their fat and protein consumption. This way, the body is unable to find enough carbs to break down for energy, thereby switching to breaking down fat.
According to keto experts, ideal keto constitutes a daily diet made up of 70 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and 10 percent carbs. Hence, you need to be very careful about the number of carbs in the food you eat – what may seem less to you can end up causing you to exceed the low amount of carbs allowed.
The Kombucha Keto Dilemma
For a diet to be keto, the net carbs need to be very low and the fat consumption high. Sadly, Kombucha doesn’t have any fats in them. While it doesn’t tick that box, it does have low carbs (depending on which Kombucha you drink).
This brings us to my conclusion mentioned above. Is kombucha keto friendly? Only if it doesn’t have added sugars in it.
When buying the drink, make sure to see if added sugar and sweeteners have been introduced to it. While the initially added sugar isn’t of much harm as it is used up by the yeast and bacteria, any sugar added after the fermentation process can be harmful to your keto journey.
Check the labels to see the number of carbs and sugar in the given Kombucha. Depending on how many net carbs are in the rest of your diet, you can decide whether the given amount of sugar in the drink is something you can live with.
Calories of Kombucha: How Many and What?
According to WebMD, a cup of Kombucha (which amounts to eight ounces of liquid) has:
No protein, fat, or fiber
7 grams of carbohydrates
B vitamins, including niacin, B6, B12, Folate, Riboflavin and Thiamin
Additionally, it is also equipped with a healthy antioxidant called EGCG because of the tea leaves it has. Overall it is a low-fat and low-calorie drink.
Homemade Keto Friendly Kombucha Recipe
Here's a simple and keto-friendly recipe for making kombucha:
- 8 black tea bags
- 8 cups of water
- 1 cup of granulated erythritol or other keto-friendly sweetener
- 1 cup of pure kombucha from a previous batch (or store-bought, unflavored)
- 1 scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)
- Brew the tea by steeping the tea bags in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the tea bags and add the sweetener to the tea, stirring until it dissolves.
- Allow the sweet tea to cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, pour the sweet tea into a large glass jar (at least 1-gallon size).
- Add the kombucha to the jar and gently stir.
- Add the scoby to the jar, making sure it is completely covered by the liquid.
- Cover the jar with a clean cloth and secure with a rubber band.
- Place the jar in a warm, dark place for 7-14 days, depending on the desired level of carbonation and tartness.
- After 7-14 days, taste the kombucha. If it is to your liking, remove the scoby and reserve 1 cup of the kombucha to use as a starter for the next batch.
- Pour the kombucha into bottles, leaving about 1 inch of headspace.
- Store the bottled kombucha in the refrigerator for 1-2 days to allow the carbonation to build up.
- Enjoy your keto-friendly kombucha!
Note: It's important to always keep the jar, scoby, and utensils clean to avoid contamination.
The Kombucha Benefits
Unless you are already a fan of the drink, you might wonder if introducing Kombucha into your keto diet is worth it, given the amount of effort it takes to decipher whether it is keto or not. I will let you make that judgment for yourself.
But, as an avid subscribed to kombucha culture, I can tell you why I love this drink. It is because it helps me realize various health benefits, which I wanted to continue enjoying during my ketogenic diet as well. Here are some of the major ones.
- It is full of probiotics
During the fermentation process of Kombucha, a lot of bacteria grow in it. These lactic-acid bacteria are known to provide the drink with probiotics that can help improve gut health, reduce inflammation, and aid digestion.
- Has similar effects to green tea
Mostly, the tea leaves used in Kombucha are green tea. And if you have ever had or heard about green and herbal tea, you may know that it is known to boost the burning of calories, promote belly fat loss, manage blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol.
Considering that Kombucha is made from it as well, it is safe to conclude that the drink would also sport similar benefits.
- It is full of antioxidants
Although these claims have to be substantiated by scientific evidence, many claim that Kombucha seems to have positive effects on your liver by reducing liver toxicity because it contains antioxidants. Antioxidants help the body in fighting free radicals that have the potential to damage cells.
- Kills harmful bacteria
During the fermentation process, acetic acid is produced in Kombucha. This is a known product of vinegar as well. Acetic acid is known for killing harmful bacteria and microorganisms. Hence, Kombucha, by extension, has strong antibacterial properties that can help in fighting off infections.
- May help in managing Type 2 Diabetes
This is another benefit that needs further research on humans. But, in rats, a study discovered that Kombucha could help in slowing down the digestion of carbs, thereby helping in managing blood sugar levels.
Since green tea itself is known for improving blood sugar levels, Kombucha, which is made specifically out of green tea leaves, is likely to further have this benefit.
I am sure by now you understand why the answer to “is kombucha keto friendly?” not straightforward.
Whether or not something is keto-friendly depends on the number of carbs it has. And since this can vary from one Kombucha to another, depending on whether its manufacturers have added additional sugar to it, there can’t be a single answer to this question.
So, if you want to continue drinking Kombucha during your diet or are swayed by its potential benefits and wish to give it a try, always look at the labels to identify whether you can safely drink it without hurting your ketosis.
And if you are wondering what to accompany the beverage with (hint: food with high-fat content), head over to my other guides to find good keto-friendly options.
Till then, enjoy your Kombucha!
If you'd like to learn more about keto friendly foods, please click on one of the links below: