Keto, for those of you who don't know, is a special kind of diet aimed at losing weight, building muscle, and maintaining an overall healthier lifestyle. It does this through an extreme take on the Atkins or Low Carb diets, by cutting out carbs nearly entirely, and building a meal plan based on proteins and fats with few if any carbs.
The goal is to push your body into ketosis, which is the process of turning bodily fat into energy.
In a normal, more balanced diet, your body uses carbohydrates for energy before it gets to work on your fat reserves because carbs are much more readily available and easy to digest. However, many modern carbs, including processed flours and sugars, wreak havoc on your bodily systems. This can lead to everything from obesity to diabetes to heart disease, and obviously, it's not healthy at all.
When you eat virtually no carbs, your body doesn't have carbs to turn to for energy, and it turns to the next best thing: fats. You'll get some of your energy from the fats you eat, but much of it will come from fat stored throughout your body. As you burn this kind of fat, you lose weight.
There are, of course, a lot of different details and variations to the keto diet. Different levels of carbs, different levels of workout, different meal plans; it's all available online. We're not here to discuss keto in general today, though.
Today, we're going to focus on coffee. Coffee is inherently keto-friendly because it's just water and beans at its most basic form. Coffee can be made keto-unfriendly by adding dairy and sugar, but if you avoid such additives, your coffee won't break ketosis and will keep you losing weight.
That said, plain black coffee can get boring after a while, and if you're used to flavored coffee drinks, finding a suitable replacement for a keto diet might be hard. So instead, let's talk about various keto-friendly ingredients you can add to your coffee to adjust the flavor, nutritional content, and keto benefits.
Butter is one of the most common additives to make coffee into a filling and energizing keto beverage.
Pioneered by Bulletproof Coffee, simply adding butter to your coffee gives you a range of nutrients and proteins to keep you going. It's more filling than regular coffee, and it gives you a more stable energy boost without the spikes and crashes of pure coffee. Organic butter is the best, of course.
Ghee is a form of butter, specifically a clarified butter. You can make it yourself; all you need to do is melt normal butter and skim off the milk solids once it settles a bit. This makes the butter closer to oil, with less lactose – a milk sugar and carb – for a healthier option. Adding ghee works the same way as adding butter to your coffee; just add some while it's hot, melt it in, and enjoy.
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are a form of fat molecule that is smaller and easier to digest than LCTs, or Long Chain Triglycerides.
MCT oil is typically made from coconut oil, though it can also be derived from palm kernel oil. You often see MCT oil sold under specific brand names, as it's one of the driving forces as a supplement in keto diets. The MCT fats are relatively healthy, and while the science is still out in terms of its effectiveness, it's a powerful additive to many foods, including coffee.
Normally, dairy is a tricky subject in keto diets. Dairy comes packed with lactose, which is a form of sugar, and sugar is a carb. To lower your carbohydrate intake, you need to minimize your sugar consumption.
You can eat some dairy, but not a lot, otherwise, the sugar pushes you out of ketosis. This is why high-fat, low-lactose dairy is preferred; things like fatty cheeses, plain unsweetened yogurt, and yes, heavy cream. Heavy cream is a perfect additive for your coffee if you're used to having it creamy. Just remember not to drink too much per day; it still has some sugar in it, and that's bad for a keto diet.
Nine times out of ten, when you're looking for a dairy or creamer option for your coffee in keto, you're going to be looking at coconut milk. Coconut milk is rich and flavorful, while still serving the same role as regular dairy in many recipes, coffee included. Just make sure you're getting the right kind of coconut milk
Eggs, added to coffee, is a traditional Vietnamese beverage usually with sugar and condensed milk added. With a keto diet, though, you don't want to add the sugar or the milk, but the egg can still work well.
You can add a whole egg, but most people skim off the whites, which will otherwise cook in the hot beverage. Remember that you're still consuming more-or-less raw eggs here, though, so make sure you're sourcing your eggs from somewhere hygienic.
Collagen is a protein found in the body, and it's one of the building blocks that your body uses to heal and grow. It's a great nutrient to eat, and it's equally good to put into your coffee. Collagen supplements can be found quite readily, but if you don't want collagen specifically, you can also get gelatin. Just make sure you get gelatin in the right form; some forms will clump up when mixed with a hot beverage like coffee as it cools. Unless, of course, you want to make coffee gummies; that's perfectly valid as well.
Cocoa butter or cacao butter is an ingredient in chocolate, and it's what gives chocolate its richness. It's like a cross between butter and cocoa, and it's a great addition to coffee to give it a thicker, richer taste and a creamy mouthfeel. You can add some cocoa powder as well if you want the full chocolate experience (without the sugar, at least), which lets you make a nice rich mocha coffee without the negative impact of sugar.
Hemp hearts, or hemp seeds, are a small and extremely nutritionally-dense seed that isfree of the psychoactive properties of marijuana, but are packed with healthy fat and an absolute minimum of carbohydrates.
While adding them to coffee may seem odd, consider this: iced coffees and coffee-based smoothies go great with the addition of seeds and nut butter, so this feels right at home.
Just because you're on a keto diet doesn't mean you're restricted from everything sweet. Sugar is bad, but there are artificial sweeteners you can try instead. Stevia is one of the most common, but you can also consider options like erythritol, xylitol, and yacon syrup for other alternatives. Just be aware that some, like sucralose, may do more harm than the sugar they are replacing. Look for healthy options, not just options.
Avocado might not seem like the kind of thing you add to coffee, but a ripe avocado has a texture similar to butter and is just as easy to mix into coffee with an immersion blender.
Add in some cocoa powder and you have an incredible, rich, creamy beverage without much work. Here's a recipe to try if you're interested, and we think you definitely will be.
Almond butter is a rich, sweet alternative to peanut butter, and it comes packed with healthy fats and nutrients.
You'll want to get organic almond butter, of course. You can use a dollop of almond butter to richen up your coffee the same way a creamer would, with an almond taste similar to almond milk. Plus, if you want the taste but not the thick richness of the butter, you can just use almond extract. Mix with some coconut milk and a bit of cocoa powder and you have a coffee beverage that tastes like an Almond Joy!
A lot of people don't like vanilla as a flavor, but those people are wrong. The "vanilla" flavor of ice cream and other sweets isn't really vanilla, it's more of a cream.
Real vanilla, which you harvest from the bean pods directly, is a potent and vibrant flavor unlike any other. If you haven't, we highly recommend trying some real vanilla in your coffee; you won't be disappointed.
Cinnamon is a classic flavor for a reason, and it's a very healthy spice besides. Cinnamon has a wide range of health benefits, from anti-inflammatory properties to beneficial effects on your blood pressure.
Plus, it tastes great! Add a bit of cinnamon to your coffee for a spiced coffee drink, or mix it with cocoa and a handful of other flavors for a richer, bolder experience.
Mint and coffee alone might not go great together, but if you add in chocolate, it all comes together in harmony. People have made some very tasty mojito coffee beverages with some fresh mint and some cocoa powder or butter, and it goes great with both hot coffee and iced coffee in equal measure. Give it a try, you'll see.
Turmeric alone doesn't do much when you add it to coffee, but if you wrap it up in some coconut milk and a handful of other spices, you end up with a nice golden latte.
Mix in some butter instead of your usual creamer and you can make it bulletproof as well. A good keto turmeric latte gives you so many health benefits we could practically write an article about it on its own.
Mixing up some strongly-brewed black tea with some coffee gives you a unique flavor profile, but it's definitely missing something.
Add in some of the other spices from this list, as well as a creamy base like heavy cream, coconut milk, or cocoa butter, and you mix up something very similar to a dirty chai latte. Chai itself is delicious, and the addition of coffee just kicks it up another level.
Cardamom-based coffee is something you often get in Israeli and Turkish restaurants or, of course, those countries themselves. It's brewed strong and thick, so much so that some people call it "mud coffee" because of its consistency. You don't need a lot of it, but it's extremely potent and extremely delicious when you have it. Alternatively, you can use some cardamom along with other spices to mix up a robust, flavorful coffee drink without the thickness.
Star anise is a spice that gives black licorice its signature flavor, though it's not quite as strong or in-your-face as all that. Star anise goes with several other spices on this list, in particular cinnamon and cardamom, and it goes great in coffee. We just recommend that you either buy it pre-ground or invest in a spice grinder; trying to hand-grind star anise is an exercise in frustration and pain.
Allspice isn't the powerhouse spice that some of the others on this list are, but it's flavorful and goes well with the likes of cinnamon and vanilla to make a more robust flavor with complex undertones that compliments coffee nicely.
Frankly, any time you use cinnamon, you should use some allspice as well, it's just that good.
Ginger can be used in coffee in two ways; fresh and dried. Dried ginger tends to be spicy and potent. Fresh ginger is smoother and almost fruity before the kick, well, kicks in. Add a slice or two of ginger to your coffee and let it steep, or mix in some powder along with other spices or just on its own. It's very Christmassy!
Salt in large quantities is harmful to your body, but a small pinch of salt is a powerful flavor enhancer. If you keep it tame, you won't even taste the salt itself, you'll just taste everything else a little bit more. It's a wonderful ingredient in moderation, and you might be surprised at how effective it is.