Kombucha and the Ketogenic Diet

Kombucha is a fermented beverage often made from black or green tea and while it’s made with sugar, much of the sugar is consumed in the fermentation process and can be good for Keto if consumed in moderation. Keto dieters will be drawn to Kombucha by the health benefits of black or green tea, the antioxidants, and beneficial probiotics

If you’ve been walking through your local grocer and wondering what are all of these drinks sitting in the vegetable & fruit section of the grocery… then you’ve most likely seen what once dubbed the most liberal product in America. Kombucha tea or “Booch” as the cool kids call it, is here and it’s gone mainstream. Gone are the days when you could only find Kombucha at the food co-op or the farmers market, now it’s everywhere and there’s no going back

What Is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from black or green tea and is believed to have originated in China about 2,000 years ago. The process of preparing kombucha can vary. However, it typically consists of a double fermentation process. Generally, a SCOBY which stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast,” is placed into sweetened green or black tea and fermented at room temperature for a few weeks until it turns into a slightly sweet, slightly tart beverage that’s separated from the SCOBY and bottled.

SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)

The kombucha is then transferred into bottles and left to ferment for another 1–2 weeks to carbonate, resulting in a slightly sweet, slightly acidic and refreshing beverage.

From there, kombucha is usually kept refrigerated to slow down the fermentation and carbonation process.

While regularly found in grocery stores these days, some people chose to brew their kombucha themselves, it’s not extremely difficult to do, but it does require some attention to detail and patience and there are serious risks to improper preparation. Popular Youtube channel, “Pro Home Cooks” does a nice job chronicling the process in a short video. Click here to see video

Kombucha has increased in popularity and made the jump to the mainstream as evidenced by the acquisition of KeVita, one of the most recognizable makers of fermented probiotic and Kombucha beverages by PepsiCo

Kombucha is considered the fastest-growing product in the functional beverage market with sales estimates of $1.8 billion by 2020.

Is Kombucha Healthy?

Kombucha has been touted to have all sorts of health benefits from reducing risks for heart disease, to managing Type 2 Diabetes, to protecting against Cancer. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype as the popularity of Kombucha surges. The bottom line is that there are very few human studies specifically on the benefits of Kombucha. However, there is ample evidence for the benefits of tea and probiotics, both of which are found in kombucha.

  • Probiotics are associated with various health benefits, including digestive health, weight loss and potentially even helping reduce systemic inflammation
  • Green & Black teas are linked to reducing blood pressure, lowering “bad” cholesterol (LDL), increasing fat burning, preventing type 2 diabetes & reducing the risk of some cancers, improving gut health, brain function & more

Julie Kapp, an epidemiologist at the University of Missouri co-authored a 2019 review of kombucha studies that was published in the Annals of Epidemiology. “As with many other wellness trends, the jury’s still out on kombucha’s healing potential. There simply hasn’t been much research in humans to support — or refute — the health claims made about the drink” – Link to publication

Is kombucha better for your health? 

Better than what? Time will tell if the claims that kombucha supporters preach are true and to what extent, but if it’s replacing less-healthy options like sugary sodas, that alone is a health benefit!

Is Kombucha allowed on a keto diet?

Great question! The answer to that is… It depends

The ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrate (and sugar) intake to enable the body to get into ketosis and burn fat for energy. Well, kombucha is made from sweet tea however, most of the sugar is consumed by the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Smaller amounts of sugar that aren’t consumed during fermentation remain… so some carbs (& sugar) are inevitable. Fitting kombucha into a keto diet is possible but within moderation.

 

 

GTS Synergy Organic Kombucha has 12g of carbohydrates in 16oz serving. Fitting this into a ketogenic diet is certainly doable, but clearly, kombucha is a beverage that would need to be consumed in moderation to stay in ketosis. Folks not concerned with staying in ketosis can be more liberal with kombucha as it is much lower in sugar and calories than typical carbonated beverages

Is Kombucha good for weight loss?

 

One of the many benefits that kombucha supporters claim is that is kombucha is good for weight loss. The concept is that kombucha is good for your gut health and it will reduce cravings, improve digestion, help the body absorb nutrients from food more effectively, and lead to weight loss.

This may be a bit of a stretch, but think of your car for a moment… does motor oil affect gas mileage? Without the right viscosity, the oil loses the ability to get where it needs to go in the engine. This affects the gas mileage and the horsepower and makes the engine hotter and less efficient. Along the same lines, if your gut health is out of balance you have cravings, food sensitivities, indigestion, and bloating among other issues.

When your digestion is working for you and not against you, you will have more energy and be more likely to exercise. It also helps with nutrient absorption, keeping you more mentally aware and helping you take advantage of increased stamina.

Brewing kombucha also produces acetic acid, similar to the acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar (see my post on Apple Cider Vinegar) Acetic acids produced by kombucha help to regulate blood sugar levels. Having the proper blood sugar levels can help you to regain lost energy and keep many other health factors in check. Acetic Acid is also linked to reducing fat storage, burning fat and suppressing appetite

When your blood sugar is at an optimal level, you can burn fat more efficiently and take advantage of the nutrients that are in your system.

 

How many carbs are in hard kombucha?

So wait… what is hard kombucha? First, since kombucha is typically a product of black or green tea sweetened with sugar and allowed to ferment with the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria &  Yeast), kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol produced during the fermentation process. The alcohol content in most kombucha drinks is less than 0.5 percent. Not enough to feel the effects, by comparison, beer is typically 4.5 percent alcohol by volume

The main contrast between regular kombucha and high alcohol kombucha is the amount of added sugar, type of yeast, and the length of the fermentation process. Regular kombucha is produced in one or two rounds of fermentation conversely hard kombucha requires more rounds of fermentation. The additional sugar and yeast yield increased alcohol content. The hard kombucha on the market will contain just about the same alcohol content of a light beer. For example, Kyla Hard Kombucha is 4.5% ABV

For Keto dieters, at face value, the additional sugar added to produce the higher alcohol content would prohibit hard kombucha from fitting into a ketogenic lifestyle. However, much of the additional sugar is consumed during the fermentation process to create the higher alcohol content, making hard kombucha keto-friendly.

Keto-Friendly Hard Kombucha

I’ve personally had the Kyla Hibiscus Lime & Ginger Tangerine flavors while traveling in Florida before the pandemic… they are fantastic and I wish my local grocer carried them!

One side note, the increased alcohol content may adversely affect the probiotic benefit found in kombucha. In an article published by the Washington Post Holly Lyman, founder of Wild Tonic, which brews a 5.6 and a 7.6 percent ABV kombucha.

“Probiotics don’t like alcohol, period, We don’t pretend to have any probiotics in our high-alcohol [kombucha] because alcohol killed them. And we’ve done a lot of testing on products out on the market, and there’s not a lot of viable probiotics in even lower-alcohol versions, even though companies claim that there are.” But kombucha has health benefits other than probiotics, Lyman contends. “In the higher-alcohol versions, the beneficial acids” — acetic, lactic, glucuronic, butyric — “are still there.” – Link to article

 

Final Thoughts

High-quality kombucha is an excellent gut-boosting beverage choice. This fermented beverage can provide you with a hefty dose of probiotics to keep your gut in optimal shape. Plus, if you are selective with the kind of kombucha you add to your diet, you may just be able to manage to keep this fizzy drink in your keto diet plan.

Experimenting with kombucha can be a fun and rewarding experience. I haven’t built up the motivation to brew my kombucha, but I’ve done the very next best thing and located a local brewer. I visited the tasting room at Yesfolk Tonics a while back and was able to not only taste some fantastic flavors of kombucha but had a chance to speak to the owner/brewers to get some insight.

The folks at YesFolk Tonics were super friendly and accommodating, plus the kombucha served in their tasting room was fresh, crisp and alive… Javier (one of the owners) admitted that their kombucha wasn’t designed with the ketogenic diet in mind and most likely I would need to consume in moderation to stay in ketosis. However, after tasting a cup of their Yaupon Kombucha I was hooked and bought a 4-pack to try at home. Having tried several different brands and being a fan of kombucha it’s not surprising that I loved their “Booch”, but there is something to be said about enjoying a cup of fresh kombucha straight from the tap… I highly recommend it.

Keto Bandeeto

 

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