Despite having a fancy name, kombucha is just a fermented tea that was created in either China or Japan. But is kombucha keto?
It’s made using the fermentation process that involves mixing sugar, black or green tea, and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, also known as SCOBY.
SCOBY lives in the tea for a few weeks. (Some would use it forever as long as it is healthy).
Because of this fermentation process, kombucha is often associated with gut-balancing properties. Similar to other fermented foods like sauerkraut, unpasteurized kimchi, and miso soup. And that’s only the beginning of its health claims.
The research found that it can give our immune system a boost by fighting some pathogens and fungi, including E. coli, Sal. Typhimurium, Sh. Sonnei, Sal. Enteritidis.
Another study demonstrated promising potential in using probiotics (and kombucha might have some) for mood improvement.
But if you check out the labels of the most bottled kombuchas, you’ll find sugar, as it’s the essential ingredient to kickstart that fermentation process. So how keto-friendly is this drink after all?
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How many carbs in kombucha?
Most store-bought brands contain anywhere from 3 to 30 grams of carbohydrates (sugar) per serving.
E.g., if it’s made with fruit juice and sweetened with cane sugar (it totally happens!), it could have 20 to 30 grams of carbs—about 50-100% of your daily carb intake depending on how strict your keto is.
Certain brands and flavors of kombucha make it much easier to stay in ketosis. Kombuchas made with low-carb sweeteners like stevia might be your best bets, in case you trust the brand.
Read on to know why trust can be an issue though.
Will kombucha knock you out of ketosis?
Always check the labels to see how much carbs and sugars a particular drink has. If you plan your carb consumption for the day, you might get away with drinking a serving of low-carb kombucha and remain in ketosis.
Can kombucha be dangerous?
Kombucha might have potential health benefits e.g., having some antimicrobial qualities I’ve mentioned earlier. But it’s still possible that it might get dangerous too.
From causing minor problems like bloating (it’s a carbonated drink after all) to more severe side effects for some people.
There were cases when over fermented tea was linked to lead poisoning and teeth damage.
Some reported strong allergic reactions, liver complications, and even fatal incidents.
Here’s one of the papers (and there are quite a few of those) describing acute renal failure within 15 hours after drinking kombucha in a 22-years old man diagnosed with HIV.
And the list goes on.
Can kombucha cause ketoacidosis?
Ketoacidosis is one of the types of metabolic acidosis. It can be caused by a severe nutritional deficit because of starvation. Or, more often, it occurs with uncontrolled type 1 diabetes, and in this case, it is called diabetic ketoacidosis.
Another type is hyperchloremic acidosis that might happen when you lose too much sodium. (Which is a massive help in making sure that our heart is pumping that blood).
And the last one is lactic acidosis that can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption, liver failure, cancer, etc.
Kombucha can’t cause ketoacidosis (at least there are no documented cases of that). However, it might cause lactic acidosis – a potentially life-threatening condition.
It’s particularly dangerous to consume kombucha for those with weaker immune systems. E.g., for someone going through chemotherapy, patients with HIV, etc.
Keto-friendly kombucha brands
GT’s kombucha and keto
GT’s is one of the most sugary brands of all I’ve analyzed. They produce the drink in a flabbergasting variety of flavors, and the carbs amount ranges from 12 to 24g of net carbs per serving (16fl oz). Which is a bit too high if you ask me.
For instance, this Gingerade Enlightened Kombucha has 50 calories and 12g of carbs (all come from sugars) per serving.
And is made of kombucha culture, green and black teas, kiwi juice, and fresh-pressed ginger juice.
I was also trying the data about the amount of alcohol in the beverage. Still, it’s clearly missing on the packaging and in the product description. Quick googling led me to the information on the recent lawsuit against the company for allegedly labeling and selling their drinks as non-alcoholic.
Even though they were being well over the limits (between 18 to 442 percent more alcohol than is legally allowed in non-alcoholic beverages). The company reached an $8.25 million settlement for the same cause in 2017, and now it’s happening again.
Is Remedy kombucha keto?
Remedy is probably the only brand (at least as far as my research goes) that managed to come up with a sugar-free kombucha recipe. They are sticking with keto-friendly stevia and erythritol instead.
Not sure how they were able to make it work. Obviously, it’s not the perfect taste of all, and there are some complaints about it.
However, it’s still “kombucch-y” enough and has all those lovely probiotics. And, the nice touch (for me, at least), it’s alcohol-free too.
Each serving (8.5fl oz bottle) has 6g of carbs and 25 calories.
As far as the list of ingredients goes, here’s data for the flavor on the picture:
It includes certified organic raw kombucha (pure water, wild kombucha culture, organic black tea, organic green tea), organic ginger, organic erythritol (all-natural flavor enhancer), organic lemon, organic stevia (all-natural sweetener).
Kyla kombucha and keto
Kyla Kombucha is a bit of a mystery to me. They are calling themselves Kombucha, but in their tea with the lowest amount of carbs, they don’t use any sugars. So it’s not clear what they feed the SCOBY with to kick start the fermentation process.
So Pink grapefruit is Kyla’s lowest in carbs drink.
It has only 1g of net carbs per serving (11fl oz) and 100 calories. And it’s quite high in alcohol – 4.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).
The ingredients include water, black tea, kombucha culture, hibiscus flowers, turmeric, natural flavors, sea salt, grapefruit juice, grapefruit essential oil, blood orange essential oil, and stevia leaf extract.
It’s the lowest in carbs so far. But it’s ingredients, and the amount of alcohol make me feel like it’s a gluten-free cider, rather than a miraculously healthy drink.
And here are some arguments to contemplate on this point:
- The harm and dangers of alcohol consumption are very well documented.
- Alcohol affects probiotics to the point when those are losing their viability dramatically, so there can’t be too much health-value in hard kombucha.
Some honest players in the field openly admit that.
“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.”Holly Lyman, founder of Wild Tonic to Washington Post.
However, many kombucha executives are more preoccupied with boosting their profits. So, false advertising and crooked labeling – everything goes.
Can you drink Kevita kombucha on keto?
For those who didn’t know, Kevita is a part of PepsiCo. It was acquired by the company back in 2016 for around $200M.
Their drinks have about 16-17g of carbs per serving (15.2 fl oz).
Like this Ginger Master Brew Kombucha.
It’s made with sparkling water, kombucha culture, filtered water, ginger extract, green tea extract, black tea extract, cane sugar, bacillus coagulans lactospore mtcc 5856, black tea essence, caffeine, and stevia leaf extract.
It has 60 calories and 16g of sugars per bottle. And probably the only brand in this analysis that is labeled as verified non-alcoholic.
But they also still put the following statement on their packaging: “Master Brew Kombucha has billions of live probiotics.”
While back in 2017, they were sued for false representation of their health benefits by claiming that their products contain healthy probiotics.
Kevita’s manufacturing process includes pasteurization after fermentation. And this stage actually kills all the “live” and good bacterias.
And check this out. During the most recent (approximately in 2017-2018) examinations of kombucha samples, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets found out that claims on alcohol contents were often misleading. Six of the 21 kombucha samples were above the non-alcoholic 0.5% ABV threshold. Three were above 1%, and 2 hit a whopping 7%.
So, who knows what else is wrong with Kevita’s labeling since they clearly didn’t learn their lesson after the previous class action.
But hey, at least they have money to spare on lawyers. It’s PepsiCo, after all.
Best kombucha brand for keto
From what I’ve researched, the most decent option seems to be Remedy. They don’t use bad sugars, they don’t have alcohol in it. Not sure how much health benefits it might have, but at least their drink won’t kick you out of keto.
And hopefully, their labeling is truthful. As there were NUMEROUS lawsuits against many kombucha brands related to the false claims on their labels.
Well, at least nobody sued Remedy yet. And the macros look OK. So, that would be my personal kombucha of choice.
Keto kombucha recipe
Making homemade keto kombucha will allow you to try different techniques to come up with the least carby and least alcoholic version. But you have to be prepared to test everything since at some point it can get dangerous.
The scariest part is the threat of lead toxicity. That can happen if you are using inappropriate vessels during the fermentation process (e.g., made of clay).
That’s why it has always to be stored and brewed in glass containers. And you have to make sure you are using sterile equipment in sanitary conditions when making your own kombucha.
But in case you are not scared of that, you can go ahead and get yourself one of those Kombucha starter kits. I personally like this one.
Since it has fewer blows and whistles (so costs less) and the team seems very responsive.
The kit still includes everything you need to get started plus a detailed instruction card.
As long as your SCOBY from the kit is healthy, you can brew indefinitely. So, eventually, you will run out of tea and sugar. But it’s not that tricky to purchase, and that’s where you want to experiment.
Here are some tips to consider:
- The traditional recipe calls for 1 cup (200g) per gallon of liquid (about 4 liters). But you can start with less. Although I have to mention, there will be less flavor.
- You can brew longer to reduce the sugar content (SCOBY will eat it out), but the longer you brew, the higher is the alcohol content.
- You may dilute the final product with sparkling water to reduce the number of carbs and alcohol while still enjoying the traditional taste. Some would even find that way the drink is more refreshing.
- You can flavor diluted batches with herbs or keto-friendly sweeteners like monk fruit or stevia.
Test your product for carbs and alcohol if you care about it (and you should). So along with the kombucha making kit, you have to invest in additional gear. You will need a reliable refractometer to measure sugar content (here’s a solid option and comes pre-calibrated). And alcohol hydrometer tester (this will work well).
Can you drink kombucha on keto? Summary.
The carb and sugar content of kombucha depends on the manufacturer.
- Some will make more of it to make the drink addictive.
- Or ferment it in several stages to mask the natural vinegary taste.
- Or brew it for too long so the alcohol content will go to the roof.
And then they might mislead you with the data on the label.
If you choose a trustworthy kombucha brand that is low in sugar and proven to be free of alcohol, it can be a decent beverage choice. Especially if you are looking for something new, refreshing, and potentially with some minor health benefits.
However, to decrease any potential side-effects, the consumption of this tea should be discouraged for anyone with a weakened immune system as well as pregnant women and recovering alcoholics.
The first one may be in danger since Kombucha might lead to life-threatening lactic acidosis. Pregnant ladies shouldn’t consume anything that has alcohol and caffeine. And recovering alcoholics shouldn’t risk spiraling back to addiction.
Thanks for the graphics: Canva.com
Disclosure: At vegketodiet.com I only mention the products that I researched and considered worthy. But it’s important to note that we are a participant of several affiliate programs, including but not limited to VigLink and Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, this website earns from qualifying purchases. Also please note that I am not a doctor. As such readers are strongly recommended to make decisions that might affect their health by doing their own research. At vegketodiet.com I only document and describe thoughts, researches and ideas that proved to be working for me.