Do you do low-carb cooking while on the keto diet? If so then it’s critical to use keto-friendly ingredients that are low-carb, high-fat (LCHF). This helps you to stay in the metabolic state of ketosis. When that happens you’ll get energy from fat stores instead of food carbs. Keeping your cooked foods keto-friendly helps you stay in ketosis by preventing blood sugar spikes. That, in turn, helps you lose weight. This means that every ingredient you use should be low-carb including keto thickener. The regular go-to options like flour and cornstarch get a thumbs down since they’re high in carbs. Fun Fact: One cup of cornstarch has over 115g of carbs, which is more than twice the daily allowance for the ketogenic diet.
Many other traditional options for thickening foods also are quite high in carbs so they’re off the table. The goal of preparing keto-friendly dishes is to use a keto thickener that is healthy. Some good options are nut/seed-based products like almond flour and flaxseed. These ingredients add thickness to your ingredients without simultaneously adding high-carbs. You can get the right texture using such ingredients without kicking people out of ketosis. It’s the ultimate goal of this diet.
The Problem with Standard Thickeners
So, you might be wondering why you shouldn’t use standard cooking thickeners. There are several that can be quite effective in thickening whatever you’re making. Sometimes the combination of ingredients you’re using doesn’t provide a consistency that’s thick enough.
In that case, you have many traditional options. Here’s their carb count for 1 cup:
- Wheat Flour: 95g
- Corn starch: 117g
- Potato starch: 133g
There’s a caveat here. When preparing foods like baked goods there’s a good chance you won’t be consuming the whole batch at one sitting. However, like baking with wheat flour the carbs are quite high so you should consider alternatives
There’s another related issue. A thickener is just one ingredient when you’re cooking/baking but one single ingredient can cause your dish’s carb count to spike.
You can find yourself in the same situation when baking, for example. When you have to add cups of flour to make a baked good this can make the carbs spike. This explains why keto baking often includes ingredients like almond flour and coconut flour.
Let’s say you’re already tweaking your recipe by swapping out wheat flour and swapping in almond flour. In that case, it’s especially critical to add a keto-friendly thickener.
When on this diet, you’ll want to avoid blood sugar spikes. That happens when you consume too many carbs. The Standard American Diet (SAD) can be up to two-thirds of carbs.
Like other low-carb diets the keto diet attempts to fix this problem. That’s by limiting daily carb intake to 50g. In some cases, it’s dropped to even lower figures like 30g. Meanwhile, your diet should be anywhere from 5% to 10% carbs.
When your body goes into “ketosis” due to low carb intake, this makes your body’s systems work differently. You then get your energy from stored fat and things the liver produces called “ketones.”
Top Keto Thickener Substitutes
1. Almond Flour
That is one of the go-to flours for keto baking. It’s also a good substitute for thickeners like cornstarch and flour. That’s because it provides the same consistency/texture as cornstarch without being high-carb. One cup of almond flour is only about 24g of carbs, which is quite, low versus other options.
Besides being low-carb, you also get the health benefits of almonds, which are often considered one of the “superfoods.” Some health benefits include Vitamin E, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium.
It also seems to provide various health benefits. That includes heart health, lower blood sugar, and anti-cancer. Almonds can also provide an energy boost to get you through the day.
This is a great option for low-carb thickeners along with chia seeds. Flaxseeds function like a type of glue, so the ingredients get bound together. This helps to improve whatever keto recipe you’re following.
One of the top benefits of flaxseeds is healthy omega-3 fatty acids. That’s just the start. Flaxseeds are high in a plant-based nutrient known as “lignans.”
Flaxseeds provide several health benefits. They include lower cholesterol, healthier skin/hair, and weight loss through lots of antioxidants. One TBSP of ground flaxseed is just 3g of carbs.
3. Glucomannan Powder
That is a relatively common ingredient that’s keto-friendly. What’s it all about? Glucomannan is a kind of dietary fiber that’s made from a plant’s root. This substance has been used for thousands of years for different purposes, including medicine and dietary supplement.
One of the key features of this powder is it’s tasteless. This allows you to add it to just about any food without producing a strong taste.
One surprising plus of this powder is one cup contains 10 calories. That includes 0g of carbs. It also provides various health benefits including better digestion and lowers cholesterol levels. It also might help people with diabetes.
What’s the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet has been trending for the past few years. Google reports it was one of the top diet trends in 2018 searches. The diet has spawned tons of recipes, books, apps, YouTube videos, and so on.
Low-carb diets are nothing new and have been around for over half a century. The first one was the Stillman Diet from 1967. Since then, low-carb diets have evolved by boosting fats and lowering protein.
Another game-changer has been the focus on “good” fats, which wasn’t front and center in past low-carb diets like Atkins.
Long-term studies show that dietary plans like the Mediterranean Diet provide several health benefits. They include lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Some studies show high-fat diets can also help with diseases like type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
High-carb diets have become an epidemic throughout the world. Many people, including those on the so-called Standard American Diet (SAD) are consuming 300+ grams of carbs per day or high ratios like two-thirds of all calories.
Various ingredients like white sugar and refined grains are greatly to blame. The problem is these high glycemic indexes (GI) foods cause blood sugar to spike. That, in turn, can cause weight gain and obesity due to the storage of excess calories.
This explains why it’s so critical to pick low-carb ingredients when doing keto cooking. That includes picking low-carb thickeners. It helps to prevent glucose spikes, which in turn can produce weight loss.
This type of cooking isn’t “easy” and requires you to do the math when preparing low-carb/high-fat (LCHF) meals. However, it will help to keep your ketosis and avoid blood sugar spikes.
That, in turn, can help prevent unused calories from turning to stored fat, which can cause several health conditions. Your body will instead turn into a super-duper fat-burning machine with the help of keto thickener.