Fermented foods are essential to the keto diet, but too few people know what these are or how to incorporate them into a keto diet.
It’s easy to reach for avocado, but what are you doing for your gut health?
You might have heard of probiotics, but like many supplements, getting this live bacteria from real food is often superior.
Fermented foods are usually tangy, and are rich in good bacteria to replenish the natural flora of your digestive system.
The gut is commonly referred to as the second brain. Feeding it fermented foods is the best way to make sure it’s firing off the right signals to the rest of the body.
According to a recent study at Harvard, naturally fermented foods are the best way to do it (1). And the research doesn’t stop there.
Fermented foods have also been shown to improve mood and depression, lower inflammation, and be crucial for overall wellness (2).
They help break down stubborn fatty foods, make you feel good, taste amazing, and have so much to offer.
So why aren’t people eating them?
Well, we think not enough people realize that they can. It's common to hear of various digestive issues when going keto.
There can be a few reasons for this, and all of them can be improved by adding some fermented foods to your diet.
Commonly we see keto-ers:
- Overeating fat at one meal
- Using too much MCT without scaling up
- Lack of fiber in the diet
- No good gut health foods
- Consuming too many calories at a single meal
We’ll show you in one moment how to overcome these issues. But first, let’s take a look at what fermented foods are and what ones you can eat on a keto diet.
What are Fermented Ketogenic Foods?
Fermented foods are getting an excellent reputation for supporting immune and digestive health, and can even reduce sugar addiction and improve your mood (3).
When we’re talking about fermented foods and gut health, what we’re looking to find are specific bacteria, the most common- and well-known- of which is lactobacillus acidophilus.
You’ll want to look for products such as fermented sugar-free yogurt (coconut is my favorite), kimchi, sauerkraut, low carb probiotic drinks/shots, and other products that come in a probiotic liquid such as olives, pickled asparagus/pickles, etc.
Fermented cod liver oil is rich in vitamins such as fat-soluble A, D, E, and K, and omega-3 fatty acids.
There are also many high fiber keto foods such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, bok choy, broccolini, various chards, zucchini, radishes, avocados, blackberries and so on that are naturally good for your gut.
These should be eaten regularly on a ketogenic or low-carb diet.
After getting the hang of getting your carbs under 20 grams a day focus on switching to a high energy, highly nutritious, super delicious, diverse food version of keto for the next level of results and benefits.
Next, it’s time to look at the common symptoms you need more fermented foods in your diet: we think you’ll love the delicious ways to overcome them.
Overeating Fat at One Meal
For many people coming into a keto diet, it can be tempting to try and eat all of your fat in one big sitting. But the truth is this can be horrible for your digestive system.
As we mentioned, fat is hard to metabolize and requires a lot of effort. It’s best to space your fat over the course of a day to lessen the strain on your digestive system.
An effortless way to do this is to split up your fat content. If you’re currently adding MCT oil and butter or coconut oil to your keto coffee, split them up into 2 cups and sip throughout the morning instead of chugging them together.
MCT oil, in general, is also worth mentioning on a keto diet. You’ll know that these MCTs are great for ketosis, but they’re not always amazing for gut health.
You can also use keto snacks as a way to diversify your macros.
Eating more fats during snack times and less that mealtimes can help you stay on track without lessening the total lipids.
Reach for cheese, keto nuts, and other fatty snacks over the course of the day if you want to lose weight.
Lack of Fiber in on a Keto Diet
Did you know that eating a high fiber diet helps lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, and can also prevent hemorrhoids and reduce the risk of bowel cancer (4)?
Fiber also slows down your body’s absorption of digestible carbohydrates, which keeps your blood sugar levels stable. This, in turn, reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Most people on a low-carb eating plan don’t have to worry about their blood sugar spiking, but if you’re still in the process of reducing your carb intake, high-fiber foods can help you avoid the mood swings and energy crashes that come with dips in your blood sugar levels.
When considering a low-carb diet, fermented foods are helpful in breaking down the proteins, fats, or carbohydrates you consume, and keeping things moving along.
Many people in ketosis experience constipation or irregular bowel movements and desperately need more fiber.
Constipation is a classic sign you’re not getting enough fiber, and to frank, if you are constipated continuously, you are at high risk of hemorrhoids and even bowel cancer.
Adding in keto fiber from green veggies and low-GI foods like berries are super important.
Fiber is also great for gut health. It reduces your risk of developing colorectal cancer, and it’s a food source for the good bacteria in your gut.
As fiber ferments in your digestive tract, the friendly bacteria in your gut eat it.
They then produce compounds called short-chain fatty acids, which protect the lining of your colon (5).
Researchers have found that short-chain fatty acids reduce your risk of developing many inflammatory diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and heart disease.
You should be eating at least 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. But most Americans consume less than half their recommended daily allowance (RDA).
Not getting enough fiber does more than make you constipated.
Not eating enough fiber will cause food to sit in your intestines. This can irritate your intestinal lining and aggravate the cells causing painful inflammation.
Common symptoms include gas, bloating, irregular bowel movements, constipation, and stomach ache.
High fiber keto foods include:
- Brussel sprouts
- Chia seeds
For more ideas on what to put in your shopping cart, check out this guide on what to eat on a keto diet.
Too Many Calories at a Single Meal
Finally, eating too many calories in one sitting can wreak havoc on our digestive system.
You’re asking your body to process a massive amount of food. On a high-fat keto diet, this can be even more problematic as fat is much more intensive to metabolize.
Almost all fat in your diet comes from triglycerides. These compounds contain three fatty acids held together by a molecule called glycerol.
To store or use fats, this bond must be broken by pancreatic enzymes released into your stomach acid. Your intestines absorb the resulting monoglycerides and free fatty acids.
After passing your intestinal wall, these compounds recombine into triglycerides.
These triglycerides then bond with other fats, proteins, and cholesterol to form lipoproteins before entering your bloodstream.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the typical woman needs about 2,000 calories per day, and the average man 2,500 calories per day.
If you consume three meals per day, your meals should contain 650 to 700 calories for a woman or 800 to 850 calories for a man.
Snacking between meals can be a healthy way to stem hunger, as long as you keep your calorie intake to a modest level.
If you choose two 200-calorie snacks daily, meals should contain 450 and 500 calories for women and 600 and 650 calories for men.
It’s best to start with liquids first before introducing foods each day, and to eat smaller meals split up. If you’re into intermittent fasting, a simple way to do this would be to add a grass-fed bone broth to break the fast.
Bone broth is hugely beneficial for gut health and wellness and will awaken your resting metabolism slowly.
Just be sure to look for a quality organic brand to ensure you’re getting all the collagen and nutrients from a grass-fed source.
Points to Consider
Fermented foods play such a pivotal role in your health. But they’re also really delicious and add a great variety to the keto diet. These fermented foods provide a tangy taste that’s often missing from fat-heavy foods.
Skipping meals might seem like a way to save calories, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
Keep in mind that if you consistently miss meals, you may find yourself overeating at the next sitting due to extreme hunger.
Whether you eat three meals per day or five mini meals, you have to find a strategy that works for you.
We hope you’ll give a few of them a try and let us know what you think!