Did you know the keto diet was the most frequently googled diet of 2018?1 Due to promises of weight loss, improved energy, and the elimination of carb cravings, the keto diet has gained a devoted following. But due to its strict fat to carb ratio, consumers are turning to manufactured keto foods, beverages, and supplements to make it easier. Learn what keto followers are looking for and what you can do to tap into this growing market.
Different from Other Diets
While the keto diet has some similarities to the paleo and Atkins diets in what foods are allowed, one major difference is its focus on high fat intake, at about 60 to 80% of the day’s calories. To keep fat intake high, followers eliminate foods like grains and legumes, while loading up on fats and oils, fatty meats and seafood, avocados, and nuts.
The keto diet is notoriously hard to stick to, making keto-friendly packaged foods and beverages a major opportunity. The global keto diet food market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 4.2% from 2018 to 2023.2 Keto products on the market range from shake mixes to bars to instant coffee fortified with medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).
What is Keto?
Originally designed as a medical diet to reduce seizures in children with epilepsy, the ketogenic diet (or keto diet) is a diet so low in carbohydrates (typically 5 to 10%) that it causes the body to shift into a state of ketosis. In ketosis, the body stops burning the glucose from carbohydrates for energy and instead burns fat via ketones. The transition typically takes one to three days.
To achieve ketosis, it’s important to eliminate foods high in non-fiber carbohydrates, such as:
- Low-fat and fat-free dairy (such as skim milk and fat-free yogurt)
- Fruits (except for berries, avocados, and olives which are relatively low in non-fiber carbs)
- Starchy vegetables (such as potatoes and corn)
- Sugars (including honey, agave, and maple syrup)
Foods allowed on the keto diet are those low in non-fiber carbohydrates and preferably high in fat (although moderate amounts of protein are acceptable), including:
- Meat and seafood
- Coconuts and coconut oil
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Olives and olive oil
- Non-starchy vegetables (such as leafy greens, asparagus, celery, and broccoli)
- Nuts and seeds
- High-fat dairy (such as cheese, heavy cream, and butter)
- Berries (in moderation)
Keto: The Good and the Bad
Keto fans say the diet speeds weight loss, reduces cravings, and improves energy and focus. And there is some evidence of short-term accelerated weight loss, though longer-term studies are needed.
Downsides include the transition into ketosis (called the “keto flu”), with symptoms that include fatigue, dizziness, and brain fog. There is also the risk of nutrient deficiency due to the elimination of many fruits, as well as grains and legumes.
Formulating for Keto
Popular keto supplements on the market include MCTs and exogenous ketones, which provide ready-to-use ketones that can promote ketosis. MCT 50% made by Watson is a powdered form of MCTs that can be easily added to foods and beverages to make them keto-friendly.
Companies that have shifted from keto supplements into foods and beverages include Fat Snax (keto cookies and instant tea) and Kiss My Keto (keto snack bars, shake mixes, and instant coffee). Their baked goods rely on ingredients like coconut and almond flours, coconut and palm fruit oils, MCTs, and alternative sweeteners like erythritol and stevia. Their powdered instant beverages contain MCTs.
Perfect Keto offers a keto nut butter with added coconut oil and MCTs, while Keto and Company sells a keto fudge brownie mix with coconut flour and inulin and a hot breakfast cereal alternative based on coconut flour and psyllium.
Keto products should include vitamins and minerals, since followers of the keto diet are at risk of deficiencies in potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and the B vitamins. A custom nutrient premix can include all of these nutrients, in addition to MCTs. Watson provides custom nutrient premixes that meet keto standards and are stable across a range of conditions, such as high acid and heat processed.
The Future of Keto
The keto diet has already given rise to variations that are more flexible, such as keto cycling and the use of keto products to reduce carb intake but not so low as to trigger ketosis. Claims such as “keto,” “zero carbs,” and “low net carbs” are important for reaching these consumers.
Interest in weight loss and the desire to improve health through food are trends that continue to grow, so it’s important to consider what products can best support consumers’ health and wellness goals. Whether formulating for keto or other growing categories like sports performance and digestive health, Watson can create custom nutrient premixes that will work for you!
1. Brueck, H. (2018). The keto diet fascinated Americans most in 2018. Here are the top 10 diet trends of the year, according to Google. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/most-popular-diets-keto-fodmap-2018-12
2. Mordor Intelligence. (2018). Ketogenic Diet Food Market – Segmented by Type, Distribution channel, and Geography – Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2019 – 2024). Retrieved from https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/ketogenic-diet-food-market