Here’s what you need to know about drinking coffee on the keto diet

Changing up your diet to restrict or even eliminate certain foods is incredibly challenging, and the ketogenic diet is no exception. This popular diet limits carbohydrates, usually 20 grams per day after subtracting grams of fiber, and encourages you to eat the majority of your calories from fat. Terrified about giving up bread and pasta? It’s understandable, but one problem you won’t have to worry about is caffeine withdrawal.

Since your body needs to learn to burn fat instead of carbs for energy — a state called ketosis that can lead to weight loss — the diet restricts many fruits, some vegetables, and pretty much anything delicious in the usual grocery store snack aisle because they have too many carbs. However, you can still start your day with a cup of Joe, and there are a number of ways to enjoy it.

Coffee in cup with coffee beans

Black coffee

If you’re the type to just wants a jolt in the morning, then coffee without any additions is the way to go and will still be keto-friendly. With nothing else but coffee grounds and hot water, a simple 8-ounce cup comes in around zero calories.

That’s right, it’s basically water when you drink it black and works within the mix of calories prescribed for the keto diet: 70 percent from fat, 25 percent from protein, and 5 percent from carbohydrates. Of course, you still need to hydrate with regular water no matter what kind of diet you may be following because caffeine — even iced coffee — can be dehydrating.

Black coffee doesn’t have to be boring, though. Whether you prefer a regular drip maker, the sophistication of a French press, are inspired by Italy with a stovetop Bialetti-style brew, enjoy the convenience of a Keurig machine, or prefer to leave it to the expert hands of a barista, flavored coffee makes drinking it black a little more fun. Hazelnut, vanilla, and caramel may be more mainstream, but if you can think of a flavor, there is probably a manufacturer that sells that bagged coffee or serves it in a shop.

Another option is to add spices to your black coffee like cinnamon, cardamom, pumpkin spice, or flavored syrups. To keep it keto-friendly, make sure these are sugar-free syrups, since the sugary varieties have far too many carbohydrates to be compliant.

Coffee with a zero-calorie sweetener

Spoon holding sugar

Another plus of the keto diet when it concerns coffee is that you can still get your sugar fix whether it’s bright and early or to get you through an afternoon slump at work.

Zero-calorie sweeteners have been around for years, with brands like Equal and Sweet’N Low widely available. As people have realized their dependence on sugar has led to health problems like weight gain, energy crashes, and even diabetes, a plethora of alternatives are gaining popularity.

While artificial sweeteners like the brands above are keto-compliant, people who might want to be a little more conscious and consume more natural alternatives can turn to stevia and monk fruit.

Stevia, sold by brands like Truvia, is made from a plant of the same name and often blended with a sugar alcohol called erythritol, which is also keto-friendly. Monk fruit is made from extracting the juice of a fruit native to Southern China and is also calorie-free.

Neither of these will have the same taste as regular sugar, so figuring out which one you like best might require some experimenting.

Coffee with cream

Coffee cup with cream
Pablo D/Reshot

Some of us just can’t stomach black coffee and appreciate a milkier concoction to make our day less irritable and exhausting. The good news about keto is that fat is encouraged, which means you can still put cream in your coffee, within reason.

Half and half is a great option at a little 0.5 grams of carbs per tablespoon, but make sure to calculate the number of carbs into your daily intake, especially if you’re getting a coffee-based drink at a cafe where they are likely to add far more than that to your order.

Heavy cream is also a great option for those on the keto diet because much of the carbs are replaced by milk fat. However, not everyone loves the flavor of this product.

Almond, cashew, coconut, and soy milks are also fantastic options for the keto diet. Again, make sure to measure your amounts and look at nutrition labels for added sugars, since all of these have some carbs.

Coffee with … butter?

You read that correctly. On the keto diet, putting butter on regular toast isn’t a possibility. Instead, you can put it in your coffee for a fat-loaded way to start the day or get you through the afternoon without caving to that tray of cookies at your meeting.

Remember, this kind of fat without carbs is good on keto. The more economical version of keto-style coffee is to simply add some grass-fed butter to your cup. It’s also the way people have been drinking coffee in Ethiopia and tea in Nepal for centuries.

But if you really want a modern version of it and to sound cool doing it, you can make “bulletproof coffee,” which is a mix of butter and MCT oil — a flavorless, odorless oil that mimics coconut oil in its properties and fat content.

While the transition from a regular diet fueled by almost 50 percent carbs or more to one focused on healthy fats from nuts, olive, avocado, and coconut oils, cheese, butter, or ghee and other healthy fats can be rough. Some people have reported getting the “keto flu” as the body adjusts to a new source of energy, but at least you can keep some part of your routine and maybe even help your diet change with coffee.

Mug filled with steaming coffee
Clay Banks/Unsplash

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