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Is Kombucha Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

On the ketogenic diet the goal is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. What about kombucha, is it keto-friendly or not?

Kombucha is a type of fermented tea. The exact nutritional values will vary from kombucha to kombucha since brands often add sugar and other ingredients. However, by looking at an example you get a good impression of how good kombucha is for weight loss.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in the example kombucha is around 4.6 grams per 100 grams. That means that one glass of this kombucha contains 11 grams.

While it depends on the rest of your diet and the specific brand of kombucha, for most people kombucha is generally not keto-friendly. Certainly so because liquids are so easily consumed and don’t contain any fiber which slows down glucose absorption which in turn makes it more keto-friendly.

Depending on why you consider drinking kombucha there are likely better keto substitutes for it. If you do decide to drink kombucha on keto make sure you choose one low in carbs.

How kombucha is made

Kombucha is simply made by taking sweetened green or black tea, adding specific micro-organisms, and letting the mix ferment.

This leads to kombucha being a drink that doesn’t really contain any vitamins and minerals but does contain other micronutrients like antioxidants and probiotics.

Lastly, during the fermentation process, some alcohol may be created. Most country’s regulations require store-bought kombucha to contain less than 0.5% alcohol. Home-made kombucha may have higher levels of alcohol.

Home-made kombucha can also pose other risks. It is likely smarter to buy kombucha in stores.

When is a food keto-friendly

The goal of the ketogenic diet is to put your body into ketosis, a state where it starts mainly burning fat as a fuel (1). This comes down to more or less getting 55%-60% of your macronutrients from fat, 30%-35% from protein, and 5%-10% from carbohydrates.

For most people this comes down to eating around 20g – 50g of carbohydrates a day.

In reality, this number is different depending on a lot of factors. For example, people who exercise a lot may be able to consume more carbohydrates before getting kicked out of ketosis.

That being said that daily amount can be a good general guideline.

It is also common to exclude fiber from this amount since it doesn’t get absorbed into your body the same way as regular carbohydrates.

Carbs in kombucha

100 grams of the example kombucha contains the following amounts of carbs (2):

  • Total carbs: 4.6 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0 grams
  • Net carbs: 4.6 grams

While it depends on the other foods in your diet, you should be able to fit in 100 ml of kombucha into a ketogenic diet. However, it may not be worth it to get this many of your daily carbohydrates from 100 ml of a drink.

One glass of this kombucha is about 240 ml (8 oz) and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 11 grams
  • Of which fiber: 0 grams
  • Net carbs: 11 grams

It may be possible but combined with the other foods in your diet the 11 grams of net carbs in a glass of kombucha is likely enough to kick you out of ketosis.

Many kombucha brands also add extra sugar which makes the carbohydrate counts even higher. Even kombucha relatively low in carbs takes in a lot of your daily carbohydrate budget.

Carbs in regular tea

The above amounts of net carbs are for kombucha which is basically fermented tea. You can also just drink regular tea, this will have a big impact on how keto-friendly your drink is.

Here is the comparison between kombucha and regular tea as an example:

Values Per 100gKombuchaRegular Tea
Total Carbohydrates4.6 g0 g
Of Which Fiber0 g0 g
Net Carbs4.6 g0 g
Chart of carbs in kombucha vs regular tea

As you can see, if you decide to drink tea in some form on the ketogenic diet, you preferably want to drink it like regular tea which is keto-friendly.

Who should not drink kombucha

While kombucha may fit in certain keto diets, there are also some potential side effects of consuming this drink, especially for certain groups of people.

The potential for side effects is usually bigger for home-made kombucha. Sticking to store-bought kombucha which has to fulfill certain food regulations may the smarter choice.

People who likely want to avoid kombucha include but may not be limited to:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People who don’t do well with caffeine and alcohol

The message here is better safe than sorry.

Substitutes for kombucha on keto

What keto-friendly substitutes you want for kombucha depends on what main aspect of kombucha you are interested in.

If you are looking for more keto-friendly fermented foods some possible substitutes include pickles, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

Another option is that you are looking for keto-friendly drinks that have the potential to increase calorie-burning a little. If that’s the case regular tea and coffee at the right times may be an option.

Lastly, you may simply want a keto drink with a bit more taste than water. A keto-friendly way to do this is to flavor up your water with ingredients that are relatively low carb.

What is your goal with keto?

Even a relatively small amount of kombucha added to most daily diets can put you over the net carbs border, out of ketosis. Depending on the goal you have with keto this may or may not be a problem.

If your goal is to stay strictly in ketosis 24/7 you want to be careful about your carbohydrate intake.

If your goal is to lose weight and become healthier, kombucha can be a decent food option even if it potentially put you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level.