When you’re looking to begin the Keto diet, you might find yourself wondering what exactly you can eat and drink. Sugary beverages like pop and juice are out so what does that leave you with? Thankfully, tea is a healthy and Keto-friendly option for quenching your thirst. The following article will guide you through why tea is Keto-friendly as well as some of the best additions to add (and which ones to leave out) of your Keto tea.
What exactly is Keto?
The Keto diet is an ultra-low carb diet that asks you to eat a large amount of healthy fat with a moderate amount of protein. The reasoning behind this is based in science. When your body receives a lot of carbs from your diet it has the fuel it needs to create glucose. Glucose is your body’s preferred energy source.
Unfortunately, glucose tends to be an unstable source of energy. Your blood sugar spikes shortly after eating carbs and it plummets again a few hours later. This can leave you feeling your energy levels cycle between high and low. This roller coaster ride can be exhausting!
Any carbs that your body doesn’t need right away it turns into stored body fat in case it can’t get a steady supply of carbohydrates in the future. However, many of us have no problems giving our body the food it requires and so if your body asks for carbs, you give it carbs. This means that the fat that’s stored for later never gets used and you might find yourself packing on the pounds.
The Keto diet looks to trick your body into releasing that stored body fat by switching it to it’s alternate fuel. This fuel is known as ketones and it’s created from fat. Ketones are long burning and they provide your body with a steady source of fuel that doesn’t give you sugar highs or lows.
In order to get your body to produce enough ketones you need to restrict your carbohydrates to 20-25g of net carbs a day. Net carbs are the carbohydrates that your body actually digests and can turn into glucose. Fibre and sugar alcohols do not get digested by your body and therefore they don’t count towards your net carbs.
Foods that are high in sugar, such as sweet beverages, fruit and candy are not allowed on Keto. Other high carb foods such as bread, pasta, muffins, cakes and bagels should be avoided as well. Instead, the Keto diet is full of healthy fats (ex. avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil), nuts, seeds, poultry, beef, whole-fat dairy, non-starchy veggies (ex. leafy greens, bell peppers), and fish.
Is tea Keto friendly?
The short answer is, yes, plain un-sweetened tea is Keto-friendly! Tea on its own contains no carbohydrates which makes it the perfect beverage to drink while on Keto. One of the great things about teas is that it comes in a variety of types and flavors. Tea can provide you with a warm beverage to sip on, or you can drink it cold-brewed on hot summer days. It can give you a boost of caffeine or it can be calming. With the number of flavors of tea available you’re bound to find one that you like and if you’re struggling to give up sweet drinks like soda or juice on Keto, a sweet tasting tea is a great substitute!
What can I add to my tea?
Tea all on its own is Keto friendly; however, once you start adding things to your daily cup you might find yourself straying outside the guidelines of your diet.
In order to ensure that your tea is Keto friendly, your best bet is to drink it plain. If you absolutely need to add something to it try to choose one of the following Keto-friendly options.
If you’re looking for something sweet:
- Stevia-this extract from the Stevia plant comes in both a liquid and a powdered form. It contains practically no calories or carbohydrates so it’s a good option on Keto. One thing to keep in mind is that stevia is a lot sweeter than sugar so you need a lot less to achieve the same level of sweetness.
- Sucralose-this is another no-carbs substitute for sugar. Some brands such as Splenda add ingredients to their sucralose products that do contain carbs so be cautious and read the ingredient label. You shouldn’t heat up sucralose so it’s not suitable for hot teas.
- Erythritol-Remember those sugar alcohols you read about above? Well, Erythritol is a sugar alcohol which means that your body doesn’t digest it in order to make glucose which makes it Keto-friendly. It’s slightly less sweet than sugar so it might be easier to add this sweetener to your tea than it would be something as excessively sweet as Stevia.
- Xylitol-just like Erythritol, Xylitol is a sugar alcohol. It’s as sweet as sugar which makes it simple to swap out. If you’re used to adding a teaspoon of sugar to your tea, you would just add a teaspoon of Xylitol
- Monk fruit-like Stevia, monk fruit is extracted from a plant making it a natural and healthy choice. It’s sweeter than sugar so you would use a lot less. The sweetness in this sweetener actually comes from antioxidants inside the plant which makes it a very healthy choice. Be cautious and read the nutrition label to make sure that the monk fruit you choose doesn’t have any additions that would add hidden carbs.
If you’re looking for something creamy:
- Half-and-Half: The easiest substitute for milk in your tea on Keto is half and half. This dairy product is lower in carbs, richer and creamier than milk with a higher fat content.
- Whipping Cream: if you’re looking for even more fat with even fewer carbs, whipping cream is the way to go. Just remember that whipping cream is high in calories and because it’s so rich, a little will go a long way
- Plant milks: Unsweetened versions of soy, coconut and almond milk can make great substitutions to milk in your tea. Check the carbs on any milk substitute that you’re thinking of using because hidden sugars have a habit of sneaking in. If you’re going to add a milk alternative to your tea it’s best to warm the milk first. This helps prevent the separation of the milk from the tea that’s harmless but can look unappetizing.
If you’re looking to add healthy fats:
Getting enough fats on Keto can be tough so a lot of people choose to add some to their coffee or tea. This is often referred to as “bulletproof” coffee or tea. In order to do this, choose a fat such as MCT oil, coconut oil or butter. Begin by brewing a cup of strong tea. Any tea will work but black tea will provide the strongest flavor. After your tea is brewed you then mix your oil of choice with the hot tea using a blender, milk frother or immersion blender. This step is important if you want to avoid separate layers in your drink.
Bulletproof tea can be made in a variety of ways. If you want a more coconutty flavor you can add some condensed coconut milk into your tea. Prefer a chai tea? You can get this by brewing a cup of black tea, mixing it with some chai tea spices, almond milk and your oil of choice. You can even make a bulletproof matcha tea by mixing matcha tea mix with coconut milk and your fat of choice.
What should I avoid adding to my tea?
It might seem self-explanatory, but you should never add sugar to your tea. This is a popular addition to black teas in order to reduce the bitterness; however, sugar in all of its many forms isn’t allowed on Keto. This means that honey and maple syrup are also off limits. They’re too high in carbs to fit into your diet.
If you’re opting for a sweetener that claims to be Keto-friendly, make sure that it doesn’t contain any maltodextrin, coconut sugar or agave syrup. Although these aren’t sugar, they are all sugar substitutes that contain too many carbs to work with your Keto.
When it comes to milk products, steer clear of 1%, 2% , skim and whole milk. These contain too many carbs and too little fat to be considered worth it. While plant milks are perfectly fine, you should also avoid any sweetened almond, soy or coconut milk. This includes the flavored varieties. Instead, add some cinnamon, almond or vanilla extract if you’re looking for a boost of flavor and leave the sugary store-bought versions on the shelves.
Tea is a great Keto-friendly drink! It’s extremely versatile and comes in a variety of flavors. You can drink it plain or add in Keto-friendly ingredients such as whipping cream, stevia or monk fruit sweetener. Tea can even help you reach your macro goals when you add some healthy fats to turn it into bulletproof tea. Hot, cold, caffeinated or decaf there is a tea to fit every mood and occasion.