Kombucha is a popular beverage that promises many health benefits.
This tart, sweet drink can improve the health of your gut thanks to its bacteria-fighting properties. If you’re thinking about trying kombucha, you may want to know if it’s suitable for your dietary needs.
The keto diet is another popular health trend that involves eating lower amounts of carbohydrates and sugar. Is kombucha keto-friendly?
The answer is yes – but it depends on the brand and the amount that you consume.
Kombucha has an unusual name, but the beverage is simply fermented tea. Russian, Japanese, and European cultures have a history of brewing kombucha, but the drink has only become popular in recent years.
This was helped by a renewed interest in gut health, as kombucha works as a probiotic.
Kombucha begins as a sweet tea, normally a mix of sugar and green or black tea. Then a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) is added to the tea. This ingredient ferments the tea into the carbonated beverage we know of today.
The SCOBY needs to remain in the tea for a few weeks to ferment it adequately. The fermentation process gives kombucha gut-balancing benefits seen in other fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso soup.
The Keto Diet
Also known as the ketogenic diet, keto is a diet plan that involves eating high amounts of fat, and low amounts of carbohydrates.
The aim is to get the body to burn fat for energy, which is called a state of ketosis.
The body prioritizes carbohydrates for energy, but if limited carbs are available, we can switch to using fat for fuel instead.
When the body starts burning fat, it starts producing ketones.
You can tell if you’re in ketosis if ketones are present. Even if you’re in a ketosis state, eating carbs will kick you out of the fat-burning state, as the body will always choose to burn carbs first.
The amount of carbs that can kick you out of ketosis varies between each person, but most people eat less than 20-50 net carbs per day to stay in a fat-burning state.
Fermented Drink Health Benefits
As covered previously, kombucha is sugary tea that contains bacteria.
This may sound weird, but fermented drinks have been drunk around the world for ages. More and more people are drinking these beverages as a way of improving their gut health.
The yeast and bacteria within fermented drinks can help good bacteria multiply and remove bad bacteria from your gut.
Bad bacteria are normally the result of stress, pollution, bad dietary habits, alcohol, and caffeine. It can create problems like bloating, diarrhea, bladder infections, and candida overgrowth.
You can combat these issues by rebalancing your gut’s bacteria levels so you have a good mix of good and bad bacteria.
Consuming fermented products, like kombucha, can help with this as they contain probiotics and bacteria-fighting agents.
Kombucha has been found to have several health benefits, but keep in mind that the studies have only been done on rats, not humans. Nevertheless, the data is interesting.
Researchers found that kombucha may prevent prostate cancer, improve cholesterol, and lower blood sugar. Kombucha drinkers also claim that the beverage has increased their energy levels, lowered sugar cravings, and even helped them with hangovers.
Keep in mind that these claims haven’t been proven yet and that the studies still need to be done on humans. Despite this, the potential benefits of kombucha are impressive.
Can You Drink Kombucha On Keto?
Different brands create their kombucha in different ways. Naturally, kombucha will have some carbs in it, as it starts as sugary tea. However, the SCOBY will have eaten most of the sugar once the fermentation process ends.
The amount of leftover sugar depends on several factors, like temperature and fermentation time, but the result is a low-sugar drink with a slight vinegar flavor.
While seasoned kombucha drinkers don’t mind the vinegar flavor, it can be difficult for new drinkers to get used to.
To keep their drink palatable, several kombucha brands do a double fermentation process to add flavorings and fruits to the drink.
The new mixture ferments for a few more weeks before it is bottled. Kombucha may have been keto-friendly before this, but not after the double fermentation process. Double fermented kombucha is packed with sugar and carbs, which will quickly kick you out of ketosis.
You can make sure your kombucha is keto-friendly by checking the label before you purchase it. Look at the sugar and carbohydrate content and see if it aligns with your suggested carb intake. In most cases, kombucha can have between 6-12 carbs in each 8 oz serving.
On keto, 6 carbs will take up a lot of your carbohydrate intake, so you may want to look for smaller serving sizes or drink your supply over a longer period.
Making Keto-Friendly Kombucha At Home
If you want to be certain that your kombucha is low carb, you can create your own version at home. You can leave it to ferment for 21-30 days so that the yeast consumes as much sugar as possible.
However, before you decide to homebrew it yourself, you need to be aware of a few things.
Fermentation involves bacteria. If your SCOBY or tea becomes contaminated, you can get sick with food poisoning. Newbie brewers won’t know how to tell the difference between good bacteria growth and harmful bacteria.
If you find any mold that looks like the fuzz on moldy bread, this is a sign that your SCOBY is contaminated. You should dispose of this immediately.
A longer fermentation process will result in less sugar, but it will also make your kombucha very strong.
Mature kombucha contains a lot of acids which can cause health issues later. If your kombucha is too strong, you can dilute the mix with sugar-free soda or flavored water. This will add flavor without adding any carbohydrates.
You can find several kombucha recipes online, but here’s a general one to begin with.
You Will Need:
- 10 cups of water
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3 tablespoons of green, black, or oolong loose tea leaves
- Boil 4 cups of water, remove from the heat and add the tea.
- Let the tea brew for up to 7 minutes.
- Once the tea has finished brewing, add the sugar, then mix till it’s completely dissolved.
- Add 6 cups of cold water to cool the mixture down.
- When the mix lowers to 68-84°F, add the SCOBY, then test its pH level.
- If the pH level is less than 4.5, cover the container with a cloth. Leave it to ferment for a week, then test to see how it tastes.
- If you prefer a stronger flavor, you can leave the mixture for a little longer. If you don’t like the vinegar taste, you can drink it after the initial 7-9 days.
As we’re trying to make our kombucha keto-friendly, a longer fermentation period will result in less sugar.
Just be sure not to leave it for too long, as the greater acidic content can be harmful.
Kombucha can be keto-friendly, but it depends on the brand.
The initial fermentation process creates kombucha that’s naturally lower in sugar.
However, some brands double ferment their product, adding sugar, fruit, and flavorings to their drink. This makes some kombucha products unsuitable for a keto diet.
If you want to drink kombucha on keto, check the label to see if your product is low in carbohydrates and sugar.
You can also try brewing kombucha at home, but be careful, as contaminated bacteria can easily cause food poisoning.