KANSAS CITY – The keto diet, with its carbohydrate restrictions, does not appear to be beneficial to the grain-based food sector at all. In the baking category, the number of product launches with keto claims increased by 212% worldwide from 2019 to 2020, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database.
New product launches often carry the marketing term “keto friendly” in categories such as cereals, chips and bars. Nut flours and non-calorie sweeteners are some of the ingredients that reduce the amount of carbohydrates in the products.
“Keto-friendly is really, I believe, just one way of reaching a consumer who may be eating a higher fat diet than your average diet and is trying to limit carbohydrates, particularly simple carbohydrates like sugar and even starch” said Rachel Cheatham, PhD, founder and chief executive officer of Foodscape Group, LLC, a Chicago-based nutrition marketing consultancy.
Consumers on a keto diet must limit their carbohydrate intake to under 50 grams per day, which leaves little room for bread, cereals, or cereals, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Since the body does not have enough carbohydrates for energy, it breaks down fat into ketones, which become the main source of fuel for the body, resulting in weight loss.
“The ketogenic is notoriously difficult to follow, especially early on.”
– Ali Webster, International Food Information Council Food
Technavio, which has a US office in Elmhurst, Illinois, predicts that the global keto diet market will have an average annual growth rate of nearly 5% from 2020-24, with 33% of the growth coming from Europe. Kroger Co., Cincinnati, has named “ketotarian” foods as one of their top 10 trends for 2021.
Still, the number of people on the keto diet may decline. Five percent of respondents to the International Food Information Council, Washington’s Food and Health Survey 2021, said they tried a keto diet, which fell from 8% in 2020. Perhaps because of the stress of COVID-19, consumers avoided such a restrictive diet, said Ali Webster, PhD, director of consumer research at IFIC.
“The ketogenic is notoriously difficult to follow, especially in the beginning,” she said.
Consumers struggle to stick to the keto diet for more than a few months. said Dr. Cheatham.
“Most people want more food choices,” she said.
Terms like “keto-friendly,” “keto 2.0,” and “dirty keto” have become descriptions for less restrictive diets, she said. Dirty keto could include a meal of salmon, avocado, zucchini, and half a cup of rice, said Dr. Cheatham. Adding cyclic keto could include a keto diet three or four days a week.
Almond flour and allulose
A keto diet can contain up to 80% fat, said Dr. Cheatham.
“Walnuts are great on a high-fat diet like keto because they contain 18 grams of fat per 1-ounce serving,” said Jennifer Williams, director of marketing for the California Walnut Board and Commission, Folsom, California. “Also, walnuts are the only tree nut with an excellent source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids at 2.5 grams per 1 ounce.”
Conagra Brands, Inc., Chicago, has launched Duncan Hines’ keto-friendly brownie mix with walnut fudge. Sweetened with allulose and stevia, it contains 33 grams of carbohydrates per 70 gram serving.
Almond flour is popular in keto-friendly products. Hilo Life, a snack brand owned by PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, NY, offers defatted almond flour in tortilla chips that contain 5 grams of carbohydrates per 28-gram serving. Special K-Keto bars from Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Michigan, contain almond flour along with almond butter and almonds. The bars contain 12 grams of carbohydrates per 35 gram serving.
Several keto-friendly new products use allulose as a sweetener, especially since the Food and Drug Administration decided in 2019 that allulose has 0.4 calories per gram, which is 4 calories per gram compared to sugar. Catalina Crunch Cookies are sweetened with allulose, cane sugar and inulin from the chicory root. A 24-gram serving (two biscuits) contains 11 grams of carbohydrates. Kashi, a Kellogg company, now offers Kashi GO Cereal sweetened with allulose, monk fruit extract and inulin from the chicory root. The muesli’s dark cocoa variety contains 19 grams of carbohydrates per 40 gram serving. The cinnamon vanilla is 18 grams per 40 gram serving.
Is Keto Healthy?
The keto diet isn’t that new. It has been used to treat epilepsy for more than 100 years, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Recent studies evaluate the keto diet as a treatment for obesity and diabetes, but research is limited. Weight loss is a common reason for following the keto diet.
“Is It Alright for Quick Weight Loss?” said Julie Miller Jones, PhD, professor in the Department of Family, Consumer and Nutritional Sciences at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota and a member of the Grain Foods Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. “I suppose, but my concern is, if we look at weight loss that works, it’s one that people can do for the rest of their lives.”
Studies show that consumers can lose weight on the keto diet in the first six to nine months, she said, but studies that cover two or more years show that they lost weight because they didn’t keep the diet .
Dr. Cheatham added of the diet, “You can expect to lose weight, maybe. You can expect to improve your blood sugar levels and, more importantly, improve your insulin sensitivity. “
However, what consumers omit in their diet can have a negative impact. Many fruits are not allowed in the keto diet, said Dr. Cheatham. However, some vegetables are not the starchy ones, such as potatoes and pumpkin.
Dr. Jones said following the keto diet means missing grain fibers like resistant starch and beta-glucan.
“Many legumes are also not allowed because they also contain carbohydrates,” she said.
The keto diet differs from the Atkins diet in that the Atkins diet emphasizes protein consumption instead of fat and allows for up to 80 to 100 grams of net carbohydrates per day. The Atkins Diet defines net carbohydrates as total carbohydrates minus fiber and sugar alcohols (polyols).
Low-carb diets attract consumers because they want to lose weight, said Glenn Gaesser, PhD, professor in the College of Health Sciences at Arizona State University and a member of the GFF’s scientific advisory board. When respondents to the IFIC survey were asked about their motivations for dieting, the main response was a weight loss of almost 40%.
Consumers are less interested in diets that improve cardiovascular performance, said Dr. Gaesser.
“For most people, that’s decades,” said Dr. Gaesser. “Nobody makes decisions about what they eat today based on what that food could do for them 20, 30 or 40 years later. It is effective immediately. “
A study published online in Lancet Public Health on August 16, 2018 looked at carbohydrate consumption and mortality. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis studied 15,428 adults aged 45 to 64 years with a median follow-up of 25 years. They found a U-shaped relationship between the percentage of calories consumed from carbohydrates and mortality. A percentage of 50 to 55% was associated with the lowest risk of mortality. Both low-carbohydrate consumption, ie less than 40%, and high-carbohydrate consumption, ie more than 70%, were associated with a higher risk of mortality. The National Institutes of Health provided funding for the study.
“You can find meta-analyzes on both sides that show that the keto low-carb diet might have a slight advantage over other meta-analyzes that show exactly the opposite,” said Dr. Gaesser. “On the whole, I think most studies say it’s pretty much a toss and the bottom line is just a calorie limit for weight loss.”
Low-carbohydrate diets have been popular since Atkins in the 1970s, he added.
“I think the ketogenic diet is the sexy diet today,” said Dr. Gaesser.