Is inulin keto or not? While doing a keto diet, you’ve probably been instructed to avoid most carbs, but that fiber is okay. Inulin is a form of fiber – it’s found in many different plants, including chicory, bananas, and asparagus. Though you wouldn’t eat chicory or bananas on a ketogenic diet, when inulin is extracted from these plants, it provides several potent nutritive benefits while still being keto-friendly. Fiber has a range of beneficial effects, especially for keto dieters, but it often isn’t included enough when our diets are full of meat and cheese. Sometimes people are confused about the best vegetables for fiber on the ketogenic diet
We’re going to examine the practical uses and benefits of inulin fiber, how you can add it to your diet, where it’s found naturally in ketogenic foods and any potential downsides to using this form of prebiotic fiber.
What is inulin?
As we said previously, inulin is a form of prebiotic fiber, which means that though it’s a carb, it’s very hard for our bodies to digest. This means the energy stored within it really doesn’t “count” for our daily carb allowance or on calorie counts, because it takes about the same amount of energy to digest as it provides.
The word “prebiotic” means that it feeds the good bacteria in our guts. While most people have at least heard of the concept of probiotics – which introduce good bacterial strains into our gut – prebiotic foods feed those microorganisms and ensure that they thrive. A healthy gut impacts almost every single aspect of our life:
- When our gut is overgrown with harmful bacteria, it can cause inflammation that leads to leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut allows bacteria to permeate the lining of the intestines, entering the bloodstream and causing inflammation throughout the body, leading to illness, fatigue, and other problems.
- The bacteria in our guts communicate with our brains, and that can affect mental health along with stress levels and blood pressure among other things.
- A healthy gut increases regularity and helps deal with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome
Most commonly, inulin is a dietary supplement, extracted from chicory root. It has natural sweetness but again, it’s effectively calorie and carb neutral, so it makes a great non-calorie sweetener. It’s also a great way to get more fiber in your diet, though it’s worth noting that you should be eating whole foods whenever possible to get your daily fiber intake.
Benefits of inulin
In addition to helping with gut health, inulin has many benefits both for keto and non-keto ways of eating.
Inulin can help calm hunger cravings
Fiber in general bulks up food and takes a while to digest, making you less hungry. For many people, taking inulin before a meal helps slow them down, making them eat less and getting fuller, faster. This leads to weight loss by simply making eating less desirable.
Inulin improves regularity
By bulking up your stool, inulin can help make you more regular, easing diarrhea or constipation that are often associated with IBS and, sometimes, with keto. It also helps blunt the fat that hits your digestive tract, which for many keto dieters, causes intestinal discomfort the first few weeks. This is a great way to help your body acclimate to the amount of fat you’re eating without a lot of the unpleasant side effects that keto can cause your tummy.
Helps regulate blood sugar
Because fiber is bulky and digests slowly, it reduces the impact that carbs have on your blood glucose. By slowing the rise in blood sugar you get from food, inulin can help manage both type 2 diabetes and insulin sensitivity.
Inulin is a low carb bulking agent
While it’s great for helping keep you regular, inulin can be a great addition to low-carb and keto baking, as it helps bulk out your favorite foods, while sweetening them without added calories. This helps you add size and density to food without adding in flour or other carby substances.
Side effects of inulin powder
As with all fiber, you need to start small as you work it into your diet. When fiber is consumed as part of a larger, whole food like vegetables, it’s less impactful on your colon, but when you add it in, it’s easy to take too much at once. This can cause a handful of unpleasant, though not serious, side effects, including:
- Bloating and gassiness – this is because inulin, like all fiber, digests slowly and spends more time in transit through your colon (typically)
- Diarrhea – though it might not seem to make sense – fiber bulks up your stool and should slow transit time – sometimes your body reacts by pulling water into the colon when you eat a lot of fiber. This causes cramping and loose stools, but once you get used to added fiber, it clears up.
- Constipation – too much fiber – especially if you’re not drinking enough water – can definitely bind you up. Make sure you take your inulin with at least 12 ounces of water, or if you’re eating it in food, drink a lot of water throughout the day.
Nutritionally, inulin is all carbs, and of those carbs, it’s almost entirely fiber. This means it doesn’t impact your net carbs for the day. With that said, taking too much can cause discomfort and it should be eased into. Take a half dose per day and work your way up, and if you bake with it, make sure you don’t eat huge portions of your creation.
Is inulin keto?
The answer is yes, inulin is keto! Inulin is a great prebiotic addition to any keto diet. It’s useful for baking and to help with regularity, and it helps reduce hunger, slows down blood sugar rise, and keeps you full longer.
Inulin helps improve your gut health, which can improve quite a bit of other factors in your health, including your immune system, mental health, and intestinal motility.
With its slight sweetness and prebiotic benefits, inulin is easy to add to your diet, either as a supplement, sweetener, or baking additive. Since it’s widely available in powdered supplement form, there’s no reason to not give it a try. Your gut and waistline will thank you!