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Formulating for the Low-Carb Diet: Is it Still Relevant?

low-carb diet
September 1, 2020

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Attention formulators! Keto is as relevant as ever. It’s one of the top diets in the world, and intermittent fasting is Google searched at a white-hot pace. The “real” question is “How to do keto?”

The low-carb movement will likely last years or decades. You can also directly target the keto market, but that will be narrower. Please note even if you directly state “Keto” in the product title, the end-consumer is often looking at keto products as “supporting their low-carb lifestyle.” There are many ways to “do keto,” so here are a few ideas to get your brainstorm going:

Functional (instant) coffee

low-carb diet, coffee

  • For weight management, cognition, intermittent fasting, energy, or exciting new flavor (i.e. mocha)
  • Use goMCT®, goCOCOA™, goBHB® ketones

For more formula tips regarding coffee innovation, download our free guide here.

Meal replacement shakes

Sticking with protein and fiber makes your product look dated. But adding fat and resistant starches is modern and demonstrates your brand is up-to-date on nutrition research.

Use coconut oil powder and others in the goFAT® series such as goCOCOA™, goMCT®, avocado, etc. Add in Carb10® and other resistant starches like cassava for prebiotic benefits lacking in ketogenic diets, as well as the American diet, generally.

Energy

  • For energy drinks, fasted pre-workout powders, adaptogenic formulas and more
  • Use goBHB® and goMCT®. Ketones are highly underutilized for energy. Ketones provide a less oxidative energy the brain uses preferentially over glucose.

Functional foods

  • For bars, pancake mixes, brownies, etc.
  • Use the goFAT® series, goCOCOA™ and resistant starches

 

Read more for trends and product development ideas.

 

Is the Low-Carb Diet Still a trend?

In 2020, some ask whether Keto has peaked. We say “No,” and here’s why:

  • Keto means “low-carb” to many consumers, and that is a macro trend on the upswing
  • “Ketones” are a non-glucose energy fuel, and that is also a macro trend

Whether keto has peaked is too narrow a question. The questions could be,

  • “Should I put “keto” front and center on my packaging?”
  • “How do I support the low-carb lifestyle?”
  • “How do non-glucose energy sources fit into the next decade?”

In terms of trends, keto is still the dominant diet in 2020, and it’s talked about frequently in conjunction with fasting. Keto, fasting, longevity, biohacking, nootropic… all of these have some crossover in which the keto diet and ketones play a role.

We believe “low carb” is the macro trend, and the way to “do keto” is low-carb products (i.e. call-outs like “zero net carbs” and “zero sugar”) with a “keto-friendly” moniker on the label. “Low-carb” and “zero sugar” will last years or decades. If this were not the case, Gatorade Zero wouldn’t exist. Nowadays, consuming sugar is kind of like smoking a cigarette, so most food and beverage companies are reformulating with less or zero sugar.[1]

Allulose

allulose low-carb diet

An example of the zero net carb craze is illustrated in allulose. Allulose is a “sugar” that isn’t required to be labeled as a sugar partly due to the fact that it doesn’t negatively impact blood sugar levels. Its rise in food, beverage and supplements is meteoric.

Google Trends is already showing a rise in interest in allulose:

So, you can directly state “Keto” in the product title and there is still huge interest (i.e. Orgain and Birch Benders have big keto products at Costco), but the end-consumer will often look at low-carb diet products as “supporting their low-carb lifestyle.” In addition to “zero net carbs” and “zero sugar,” there are many ways to “do keto.”

Here are a few ideas to get your brainstorm going:

Functional coffees and teas, either instant or RTD

Caffeine itself is ketogenic [2]. So functional coffee is not only one of the hottest trends, it’s ideal for the low-carb diet, fasting, weight management, nootropic, biohacking and energy crowds. Below are a few ketogenic ideas:

    1. Mocha: Use goCOCOA™ cocoa butter powder, goMCT®, coconut oil powder
    2. Super “fasting” energy: goBHB® ketones
    3. Weight management: goMCT®, chromium, cinnamon extract
    4. Super coffee w/ more energy, mood and focus: Dynamine™ and TeaCrine®, or goBHB® ketones
    5. Prebiotic coffee: goMCT® on prebiotic acacia, plus iXOS™

Meal replacement shakes

Sticking with protein and fiber makes your product look dated. But adding fat and resistant starches is modern and demonstrates your brand is up-to-date on nutrition research.

    1. MRPs: Use coconut oil powder and others in the goFAT® series such as goCOCOA™, goMCT® on prebiotic acacia, or macadamia. Add in Carb10® and other resistant starches like cassava for prebiotic benefits lacking in ketogenic diets.
    2. “Fat bombs” – Use somewhere in the ~10g of protein and 10g of fat in six ounces (250ml) of water and you’ve got an incredible Keto Pudding. It’s not ideologically keto, but it’s zero net carbs and tastes like the dessert low-carb dieters love.
    3. Prebiotic shakes: Keto dieters lack fiber, so tying in iXOS™, goMCT® on prebiotic acacia, polyphenols or other prebiotics could be valuable. Inulin is okay, but be careful with the dose to avoid GI distress.

Functionalizing energy for the keto diet

The consumer wants more than caffeinated energy, which means “functionalized” with improved mood, focus, and concentration. For energy drinks, fasted pre-workout powders, and adaptogenic formulas, there are many options:

    1. Use goBHB® and goMCT®. Ketones are highly underutilized for energy and fuel for the brain. Ketones provide a less oxidative energy the brain uses preferentially over glucose.
    2. Use TeaCrine® and Dynamine™: These two prolong the half-life of caffeine in the body, and add a mood and focus component ideal in clean energy formulas, weight management products, pre-workouts, nootropics, gaming products and more.
    3. Other options include using combinations of those above with ginseng, polyphenols, theobromine, choline derivatives, citrus aurantium, and more.

Functional foods

For bars, pancake mixes, mug cakes, and brownies, the innovations keep coming. Kodiak Cakes may have started the trend, but Birch Benders is taking it to the next level.

    1. Use the goFAT® series, goCOCOA™ and resistant starches for all of the above options.

 

The low-carb diet is still relevant, even after many years. We expect that the keto trend will continue – so how do you innovate? We hope you took some formulation tips from this article. Let us know what you think in the comments!

 

References

1. Katy Askew, “Shifting Away From Sugar: What’s the Outlook in 2020?” Jan 15 2020. https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2020/01/15/Shifting-away-from-sugar-What-s-the-outlook-in-2020

2. Camille Vandenberghe, et. al. “Caffeine intake increases plasma ketones: an acute metabolic study in humans” 2017. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28177691/

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