You may have heard of the ketogenic diet – the latest health and wellness trend sweeping the nation. We all know what keto dieters eat (lots of good fats and protein) and what they don’t (carbs) – but what do they drink? And what does that mean for the beverage industry?

Let’s take a dive into what it means to be keto and how beverage developers can better accommodate keto dieters.

What is Keto and how does it work?

Similar to the Atkins diet, keto is a low-carb, high-fat and moderate-protein diet that is thought to be more effective and sustainable than low-fat or calorie-restrictive diets. Even though there are a few variations on keto – including cyclical, targeted, and high-protein versions – it essentially involves drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat.

On a typical keto diet, you’ll consume about 75% fats and 20% protein – that means only 5% of your daily diet is allotted for carbs, coming to about 20-30 grams of carbs a day. When there are not enough carbohydrates for your body to use as energy, your body goes into a state of “ketosis,” where it starts to break down fat stores instead. This is what ultimately induces weight loss.

What are the benefits of Keto? And why do people do it?

It’s no surprise that keto has grown increasingly popular in the last few years. Health and wellness trends are a large part of why. In addition to weight loss and weight management, the keto diet also purports several other health benefits. Moderate protein consumption can help you maintain bone mass, repair and strengthen muscles, and boost metabolism. Meanwhile, eating plenty of good fats like those found in fish, nuts, and soybeans can help reduce blood pressure and prevent heart disease and stroke.

Keto also helps dieters lower their blood sugar and insulin levels, shifting their metabolism away from carbs toward fat and ketones. Because of this shift, keto dieters have been reported to have a reduced risk of everything from diabetes and epilepsy to cancer and Alzheimer’s. In ketosis, fat in the liver turns into “ketones” that supply energy to the brain, adding further to keto’s impressive list of health properties.

What can you drink on Keto?

Bread and pasta aren’t the only foods that contain carbohydrates – yep, drinks have carbs too! In fact, even beverages perceived as healthy have their fair share of carbs. Take orange juice for example. An 8oz glass of OJ contains a whopping 27 grams of carbs – so if you’re on keto, it will likely be a drink you’ll want to avoid unless you’re looking to spend you daily carbs ration all in one go. This is going to be the case for most fruit juices which are naturally high in carbs.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, try a diet or reduced-sugar juice instead. You can also go for some kombucha, but in moderation, as it does contains sugar needed for fermentation process and can be high in carbs. If you’re craving a smoothie, you’ll need to make sure it’s light on fruit (remember that berries have the least carbs). You can also avoid some of the hassle by substituting it out with a low-carb protein shake instead.

Soda, which is packed with sugar and carbs, is an obvious no-no for keto; however, carb-free diet sodas are okay – in moderation. Sparkling water can provide an even better alternative. And if you’re going to drink alcohol, it’s best to avoid beer and wine, which are higher in carbs as compared to pure liquors, like vodka, gin, tequila, rum, or whiskey.

Coffee and tea are great for keto dieters, but only if served unsweetened. You can add heavy cream, unsalted butter, or plant milks – like soy, almond, or coconut milk – to cut through some of the bitterness. Low-carb, sugar-free energy drinks and sparkling teas can also help you add some caffeinated variety to your beverage consumption.

Developing Keto-friendly drinks – Yours can be next!

Water has always been considered the best option for keto dieters, but now it doesn’t have to be the only one. Thanks to beverage developers and innovators, there are more and more keto-friendly drink options hitting the market – and yours can be next!

“If you’re looking for ways to capitalize on the keto trend and put more keto-friendly drink options on the market, you’ll need to consider a few things,” says Kristen Wemer, Flavorman Director & Beverage Architect. “Incorporating fats and protein into your beverage will require you to invest in stabilizers, emulsifiers, and homogenization equipment, which can be difficult to find and expensive. Since sugar is out, you’ll also need to use an alternative sweetener. Natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit can be costly, but you can also go for sucralose which is actually cheaper than sugar.”

“Be sure to do your research, not just on what keto is and what keto dieters are consuming, but also on what keto drink options are already out there. What ingredients are they using? What kinds of flavors? These are all observations that will help you as you get into the development process.”

“Flavorman has helped create a number of delicious and keto-friendly drinks over the years. Not only do we have the expertise and experience required to bring your keto drink idea to life, but we know we’re the best partner to do so. If you’re looking to change what the world’s keto dieters are drinking, give us a call!”

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Written on October 30, 2019.