Many keto-friendly and low-carb products on the market tend to have a decent amount of carbohydrates, the main difference being they are low in “net carbohydrates.” These products undoubtedly have either chicory root fiber, inulin, oligofructose, or soluble corn fiber listed, but are these ingredients keto friendly?
Chicory root fiber, also known as inulin, is acceptable to consume while following a keto diet and has a glycemic index value of 0. Chicory root fiber consists entirely of soluble fiber, which doesn't contribute any net carbohydrates as it passes through the body undigested.
In this article, I’ll cover how many carbs chicory root fiber has, how much it raises blood sugar, the good AND the bad, and more in-depth about what it is.
Is Inulin From Chicory Root Keto Friendly
You may not be familiar with inulin, but inulin is essentially a prebiotic and type of soluble fiber isolated from the roots of chicory plants, hence chicory root fiber.
While chicory root fiber does contain between 1 – 1.5 calories per gram, the calories are all coming from soluble fiber.
For those who are following a ketogenic diet, you may be counting net carbohydrates, meaning both dietary fiber and/or sugar alcohols wouldn’t be counted against your total daily carb count.This means that inulin or chicory root fiber is indeed keto-friendly, but that doesn’t mean you have a free pass to eat as much as you want, as I’ll explain further in the article.
Does Chicory Root Fiber Have Carbs?Since fiber is technically considered a carbohydrate, chicory root fiber IS a source of carbohydrates.
As mentioned in the previous section, all of the carbohydrates are in the form of soluble fiber, meaning it isn’t considered part of your net carbs.
Net carbohydrates are simply the total amount of carbohydrates minus any dietary fiber (soluble or insoluble) and any sugar alcohols, if any. Net carbohydrates are carbs that are absorbed by your body.
Fibers, such as inulin in chicory root fiber, pass through your body undigested, which is why they are not considered part of your net carbs.
Does chicory root fiber raise blood sugar? Since chicory root fiber is a fiber that passes through undigested, any rise in blood sugar is almost negligible, if any. Chicory root fiber has a glycemic index of nearly 0, which is a measure from 0 to 100 how quickly a food causes your blood sugar to rise, with 0 being not at all and 100 causing a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Is Chicory Fiber Good For You?
The fiber from the chicory root is purported to have numerous health benefits; here are just a few of them.
Rich in prebiotic fiber
Chicory root is composted of a soluble fiber known as inulin. Inulin makes up 68% of fresh chicory root.
Inulin is a prebiotic, which helps promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.You can think of probiotics, such as those that come from kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt, as the good bacteria in your gut, and prebiotics as beneficial fibers that feed and maintain this bacteria.
Prebiotics are like a fertilizer to help your good bacteria grow and flourish, which plays a role in reducing inflammation, improving mineral absorption, and fighting harmful bacteria 12
Aid in digestion
Both soluble and insoluble fiber are important for health and digestion.
Chicory root fiber is an excellent source of soluble fiber which has been found in studies to help soften stool and significantly increase bowel movement frequency 3
May improve blood sugar
In a study involving 49 women with type 2 diabetes, they found that taking 10 grams of inulin per day over two months led to a significant decrease in blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c when compared to taking a placebo. 4
High in antioxidants
Antioxidants help protect against free radicals, and free radicals are unstable molecules that may play a role in diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
According to some research, chicory root extract may help protect against free radical formation due to its high levels of natural antioxidants 5
Help manage osteoarthritis
In one study, participants over the age of 50 with osteoarthritis were treated with chicory for one month. Over half of the patients showed a 20% improvement when it came to pain and stiffness 6
What Are The Side Effects Of Chicory Root?
Chicory root fiber isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
While chicory root has been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes, some individuals respond poorly to high amounts of chicory root fiber.
More specifically, people report that the fiber, especially in large quantities, causes gas and bloating.
However, some studies suggest that “native inulin” may be tolerated better by individuals who suffer from gas and bloating.
Native inulin is inulin that has not been modified or chemically altered. Many manufacturers alter inulin to make it serve as both a sweetener and bulking agent, thus possibly adding to the side effects people may experience. 7
What Is Chicory Root
Chicory root is a plant that belongs to the dandelion family.
As mentioned previously, about 68% of the dry weight of fresh chicory root is composted of the soluble fiber inulin, aka chicory root fiber.
Chicory root is also commonly used as a coffee substitute in certain countries around the world and becoming more and more popular here in the United States.
If you’re looking for a caffeine-free alternative to your morning cup of coffee, you may want to try chicory root coffee. Here is one of my favorite chicory-root coffees below.
What Is Inulin
Inulin is a natural dietary fiber present in various fruits and vegetables and extracted using hot water, though the chicory root contains the highest concentration of inulin.
Other Sources Of Inulin
Other sources of inulin include:
Oligofructose Vs. Inulin
You may be wondering what the difference is between different forms of “chicory root fiber,” which include oligofructose and fructooligosaccharides (FSO).
Shorter chains of inulin are called oligofructose or fructooligosaccharides. Therefore, both oligofructose and FSO is simply a subgroup of inulin 8
You may notice the different varieties used in various low-carb products which include, dairy products, spreads, bakery foods, cereals, ice creams, and nutrition bars.
Chicory root fiber is commonly used in gluten-free baked goods to replace the elastic properties of gluten.
In addition, chicory root fiber is also used as a bulking agent and sugar substitute since it has virtually no impact on blood sugar.
Due to chicory root fiber having very little to no effect on blood glucose and insulin, chicory root fiber is considered a keto-friendly addition to many people's diets.
Just be mindful of having too much chicory root fiber since too much may lead to digestive issues such as gas and bloating.