Two of the hottest health trends right now are the Keto Diet and Kombucha Tea. The keto diet is an extremely low carb and no added sugar diet that seems to melt the pounds away as long as you stick to its rather cumbersome rules. Kombucha tea is a fermented drink with many possible health benefits such as reducing the risk of cancer or heart disease, helping to manage type 2 diabetes, giving you probiotics and antioxidants and a whole lot more. But how well do these two health trends mesh? Since you use sugar to make kombucha, many people are left wondering if drinking it can still be Keto friendly.
Kombucha Basics: What Is It And Why We Drink It
Kombucha is a fermented tea with both a slightly sweet and light vinegar flavor with many health benefits. A mixture of green or black tea and sweetener (sugar) ferments with the help of a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (also known as a SCOBY). The fermenting typically lasts 3 to 30 days. The antioxidants and probiotics added to the drink during fermentation help protect against certain diseases. A type of acid called acetic acid, also found in vinegar, is produced when kombucha is fermented. Acetic acid helps fight infections, which means drinkers of the tea could have fewer infections and illnesses overall.
How do probiotics lead to good health? The many ways healthy bacteria aid the digestive system, and immune function is becoming clearer as more studies focus on gut health. When the probiotics in kombucha improve your gut health, they may also strengthen the immune system, helping you fight off many, including cancer. There have even been scientific links to suggest probiotics can cure or lessen depression.
It’s clear that kombucha is far more than a hippy – granola trend; it is healthy for your body and mind. Some people drink this tea daily, but even a few times per week can give you added health benefits when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Why Do Some People Fear Kombucha Is Bad For Keto Dieting?
As you may have noted in the explanation above, sugar is used in the making of this beverage. Since people on the keto diet cannot have added sugar, it’s natural to assume that kombucha is not Keto friendly. Keto dieters work hard to achieve a state of Ketosis. That means their body burns more fat. The SCOBY actually eats or burns through the sugar during the fermentation process. Luckily there are ways to alter the recipe so that you can enjoy the benefits of both keto weight loss and kombucha tea. Different batches of kombucha have different levels of sugar and carbs, and the drink can be altered to fit your new diet plan. It’s true when you drink a store-bought brand you have little control of the ingredients and process it’s made by, but if you make it at home, you have total control and peace of mind.
Why Is Sugar Bad For Keto?
Real sugar is a double molecule of glucose (50%) and fructose (50%). That makes sugar 100% carbs. The refined sugar actually turns into carbs inside your body. Keto has an extremely low threshold for carbs. Most people on the keto diet will eat fewer than 50g per day of carbs, and added sugar will take up those grams faster than you can snap your fingers. The idea behind Keto is to get your body into a state of Ketosis, meaning your body is burning fat instead of carbs. Adding sugar to your diet will give your body a new fuel source, and the fat loss will stop. So too much sugar can knock you right out of Ketosis, and you should always be aware of possible sneaky sugars slipping into your diet. An easy way to accidentally overdo it on sugar is to drink it in the form of soda, fruit juice, energy drinks or other liquids.
How To Make Kombucha Keto Friendly
Luckily you have the ability to lower the amount of sugar in your Kombucha tea. There are two main ways to get keto-friendly kombucha.
#1. READ the label carefully on store brand kombucha
The drink on its own is only slightly sweet and more vinegary in flavor. To make it taste better store brands add more sugar and other sweeteners and flavors. This can double the amount of sugar and carbs the drink contains. It’s far better to make your own kombucha at home, and it’s super easy to do!
However, if you prefer to buy kombucha take the time to read the labels because the amount of sugar added varies a lot from one brand to another. You can find some brands and flavors that have about 3 g of carbs per ½ cup. Again, pay attention to the label because ½ a cup is only about one-quarter of the bottle.
Just remember with store brands, you will most likely have to cut carbs elsewhere to keep yourself in ketosis.
#2. Change the way you make homemade kombucha
With a few simple changes, you can reduce the sugar in your kombucha tea. As we stated earlier, the SCOBY uses up a fair amount of the sugar naturally while fermenting is going on. Longer fermentation times or multiple fermenting rounds can reduce the sugar content even more. You can also invest in a hydrometer, which is kind of like a thermometer for checking the liquid density. Armed with a hydrometer, you can regularly test your kombucha to make sure that the sugar levels have dropped enough for your consumption.
You can slow down the rate of fermentation while brewing. Slowing down the kombucha process means to decrease the rate at which it is fermenting. This will result in lower sugar content but also a less sour taste. You control the speed of fermentation by controlling the temperature. Lowering the temperature will slow the process.
Doing a second fermenting process sounds like added work, but it is easily accomplished. The basic steps are:
Transfer the kombucha (without its SCOBY) into a glass vessel that can be sealed
Now you can add in a flavoring such as spices, herbs, other teas and so on to improve the flavor
Allow the kombucha to sit at room temperature for one day, and then transfer it to the refrigerator for at least seven days.
If you are ready to try making kombucha yourself, check out my easy kombucha recipe.
More fermenting and less sugar means that you’re going to be left with a pretty tart and tangy tea. You can add artificial sweeteners or flavored seltzer water to help improve the taste. If you can’t help but enjoy the convenience of buying store-bought kombucha, then you can simply look for brands that are lower in sugar, or you can dilute the tea with more fizzy water so that you get more tea, just a diluted version.
Just by making a few alterations, you can easily make kombucha into a keto-friendly drink as long as you do it in moderation. Many people say that drinking kombucha has killed their soda cravings and that in itself is a great step towards health and weight loss right there.