Fermented Foods on Keto

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Is it okay to eat fermented foods while on keto? The answer is both yes, and no. Find out why below.

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Fermented Foods and Their Effect on The Keto Diet

Eating Fermented Foods

Food that has undergone the fermentation process can help improve gut health. They are full of beneficial bacteria and enzymes that aid digestion. You have to keep in mind that not all fermented foods help keep you in the state of ketosis. Some are just too high in sugar.

1. Yogurt

Bowl yogurt spoon female hands | Fermented Foods on Keto

Yogurt is full of good bacteria that improves digestion and gut health. On the other hand, it may not be 100% great for keto. The problem with yogurt is that it's so high in sugar. The high-protein-type yogurt or the Greek yogurt has at least 9 to 12 grams of sugar per serving—not the entire container, per serving. Considering it's about four servings per container, that’s just too much sugar. Remember, the main purpose of the keto diet is to eliminate sugar from the body. 

2. Kefir (Dairy and Water)

Homemade cottage cheese bowl on old | Fermented Foods on Keto

Kefir, a fermented milk drink, contains roughly the same amount of sugar as yogurt. Dairy kefir has about 10 grams of sugar per serving. Water kefir, on the other hand, is made from sugar water and kefir grains, which has about 6 grams of sugar per serving.

3. Kombucha Tea

Homemade fermented raw kombucha tea | Fermented Foods on Keto

Kombucha is really good for digestion. I think it's a good alternative for alcohol since it relaxes you. It has a very small amount of alcohol — I think about 1 percent — but there are some types of kombucha tea that contain more alcohol. 

But here's the thing. A couple of years ago, you could find it with just 2 grams of sugar, and it was usually about two serving size, so you probably get a good cup and a half of kombucha tea. But the kombucha tea available these days has more than 2 grams of sugar. I can't even find kombucha with less than 6 grams of sugar. It's simply too much sugar to be considered a good drink choice for the keto diet.

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4. Kimchi

Korean food kimchi cabbage jar white | Fermented Foods on Keto

If you’re a Korean culture enthusiast, kimchi may be familiar to you. It's awesome. It's a spicy fermented cabbage from Korea. Aside from containing probiotics for digestion, it also boosts immunity and removes toxins from the body. This is a great food option that falls in line with the keto diet. 

5. Sauerkraut

Homemade sauerkraut cumin glass jar | Fermented Foods on Keto

Sauerkraut is another awesome fermented vegetable you should try. It has tons of vitamin C, is great for digestion, and is as effective as probiotic supplements. But remember this: When you consume fermented vegetables—kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, etc.—you don't need large quantities.  small servings a few times a week is perfect. 

6. Miso 

Gochujan miso maryland state | Fermented Foods on Keto

Miso soup is a fermented soy product. It improves gut health, strengthens bones, promotes muscle growth, and helps fight free radicals. If you’re going to include miso in your diet, make sure that it's organic miso, not the GMO kind.

7. Tempeh

Fresh tempeh stacked sold local market | Fermented Foods on Keto

Tempeh is another soy product with an abundance of probiotics. It’s great for your digestive health, again, just make sure it's organic and non-GMO. A lot of vegans enjoy tempeh as a regular staple in their diet. Note that due to the soy content in tempeh ingesting large quantities may increase estrogen levels slightly.

Now, when you're starting the keto diet, you also want to make sure you’re eating plenty of vegetables to provide all the fiber to balance the microbes and nutrients. With fermented foods, you end up supporting the microbes in the small intestine where 90% of digestion in the body occurs. 

Do you include fermented foods in your diet? Why or why not? I’d like to read from you in the comments section below. 

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