Is Yeast Keto?

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Written by Rahul Malpe, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Yeast is a living organism used to make a variety of foods and beverages such as beer, wine, kombucha, and baked goods. Since it’s commonly associated with high-carb foods like bread, you may be wondering if you can use yeast in keto recipes.
In this article, we will go over the most important aspects of this food in relation to keto. We'll talk about whether yeast is keto-friendly or not,  what the different types are, what alternatives you can find, and more. Read on!


What is it?

Yeast is a single-celled microorganism that has been used in baking and brewing for thousands of years. When it comes into contact with sugar, it emits carbon dioxide gas, which causes bread to rise. In brewing, it ferments the sugar in the malt to produce alcohol. 

It is an essential ingredient in many recipes, and it can be used to make bread, beer, wine, and other fermented foods. There are many different types, and each one has its own unique characteristics. 


Nutrition facts

Here’s a closer look at the nutritional content of active dry baker’s yeast:

  • Serving size: 1 tbsp (12 g)  
  • Calories: 39
  • Fat: 0.9 g
  • Net carbs: 1.7 g
  • Total carbs: 4.9 g
  • Fiber: 3.2 g
  • Protein: 4.9 g




Can you have yeast on a keto diet?

Yes, it can be keto-friendly if you take some precautions. The issue is that this fungus usually feeds on sugar, and the ketogenic diet restricts sugar and other carbohydrates. 

However, instead of sugar, you can use insulin powder to bloom the yeast for keto baked goods. (Inulin is a prebiotic fiber, you can find it online or in stores that carry supplements.) The basic process is to add the inulin to warm water, then add yeast, let sit around 10 minutes until bubbly and foamy, then add the mixture to the other dough ingredients.

Another option is to do the blooming process using a small amount of sugar, honey, or maple syrup. The fungus consumes the sugar and converts it to carbon dioxide and alcohol, so the sugar does not add carbs to your recipe as long as it is fully fermented.

However, moderation is important when it comes to any type of food, including this ingredient. 


How much yeast can you have on the keto diet? 

Most recipes will only call for a tablespoon or two, and the recipe makes several servings. So you shouldn’t have to worry about eating too much. It’s not something that you eat plain by the spoonful, but rather you use small amounts in a recipe.

On the other hand, nutritional yeast is a different type of ingredient that you can simply sprinkle over food, more like a seasoning. It has been deactivated, meaning that it cannot reproduce or make carbon dioxide. You do have to be careful with the amount you eat, as a 1 or 2 tablespoon serving can have around 5 grams of carbs. This will vary depending on the brand you buy, so check the label and measure out your portion accordingly. 


What kinds of yeast can you have on keto?

There are types that are low in carbs and can therefore be consumed on a keto diet. 

Active dry yeast can be used in keto baking. It must be dissolved in warm water and fed inulin or sugar before being added to the dough. It produces carbon dioxide gas, which gives the dough a light and airy texture.

Instant yeast can be used without dissolving in water first. It is made by dehydrating the cells to very low moisture content. This process makes the end product more shelf-stable and easier to use than active dry. 

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that can be added directly to food to add protein and flavor. It is sometimes used as a cheese replacement for vegans.

Torula is another type of deactivated yeast that is sometimes used as a food additive to help improve the texture of foods, add flavor, and act as a preservative. It is also a source of vitamins and minerals. In addition, it contains amino acids that are essential for human health. However, this variety can also cause allergic reactions in some people. Therefore, it is important to check with a doctor before consuming it.




What can you have it with?

While keto dieters may have to say goodbye to carb-rich bread, that doesn’t mean they have to say goodbye to yeast. In fact, there are a number of keto-friendly recipes that can be made with it. For instance, it can be used in pizza dough (substituting almond flour for wheat flour) or cinnamon rolls (made with a combination of coconut flour and almond flour). 

And for those who miss the taste of bread, there are a number of keto-friendly bread recipes that use almond or coconut flour in place of wheat flour. With a little creativity and moderation, it’s possible to enjoy most foods without having too many carbs.


Keto-friendly yeast alternatives

A keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. To follow a keto diet, you need to consume mostly fats and very few carbs. This can be difficult to do if you enjoy baked goods, as many contain high amounts of carbs. 

While yeast is considered keto friendly, here are some other yeast alternatives that can help you enjoy your favorite foods while staying on track with your diet.

  • Baking soda: It is a leavening agent that helps baked goods rise. It is often used in combination with another leavening agent, such as cream of tartar. Baking soda is a good alternative for those on a keto diet, as it contains no carbs and very few calories.
  • Double-acting baking powder: This is another leavening agent that can be used. Unlike baking soda, double-acting baking powder contains two leavening agents that react at different stages of the baking process. This means that it can help baked goods rise more evenly and prevent them from collapsing. Double-acting baking powder is also low in carbs and calories, making it a good choice for those on a keto diet.
  • Psyllium husk powder: This can be used as a thickener or binding agent in low-carb baking recipes that do not require yeast. It is also a popular ingredient for keto because it can help to add bulk and texture without increasing carbohydrates. It is made from the husks of psyllium seeds. Psyllium seeds are a source of soluble fiber, which means they can help to absorb water and form a gel-like substance in the gut. This helps to promote regularity and may also help to lower cholesterol levels. Because psyllium husk powder is high in fiber, it is often used as a constipation remedy. 

By using these ketogenic ingredients, you can create delicious and healthy bread and pizzas that are low in carbohydrates.


FAQ about yeast on a keto diet

Are you curious to learn more about this ingredient? You may find some of your questions answered here.

To activate it on keto, mix it with warm water and inulin. Then, let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes. It should start to foam, indicating that it is active. If it doesn't foam, this may indicate that the product may be too old. To ensure success, be sure to use it fresh and follow the directions on the package. 

You can also activate it in the traditional way, using warm water and sugar. The fungus will eat the sugar and in turn release carbon dioxide, so it will not add carbs to your recipe as long as it is allowed to fully ferment the sugar.

It should be warm but not hot. 100-115 °F (38-46 °C) is best for active dry. It should feel warm to the touch without being uncomfortably hot.

No, it doesn’t, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. In fact, one study found that this food actually helped to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Therefore, it is unlikely that it will cause spikes in insulin levels.

Insulin is a hormone that plays an important role in regulating your blood sugar. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which causes your blood sugar to rise. In response, your pancreas produces insulin, which helps to shuttle the glucose into your cells for energy. However, if your body is unable to produce enough insulin, your blood sugar levels can become dangerously high if you eat too much carbohydrate-containing food. 

The amount of carbs differs by brand, so you’ll have to check the label. Usually there are less than 5 g of carbs per serving (a tablespoon or two). This amount of carbs is unlikely to kick you out of ketosis, especially if you consume it in small amounts. However, if you eat large quantities of it or regularly consume foods that contain it, such as vegan cheese or spreads, it could potentially impact your ketosis. Therefore, if you are following a strict ketogenic diet, as long as you don't overdo it, it won't break your ketosis.

Sourdough starter is fermented dough containing wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria. It is made with wheat flour, because the carbohydrates are necessary to feed the microorganisms, so it is not keto-friendly.

Yes, freezing active dry or instant yeasts will keep it dormant without killing it. If the package is already open, be sure to store it in an air-tight layer. When you’re ready to use it, proof a small amount before adding it to a recipe to make sure it is still active. To proof, add it to warm water along with sugar to see if it bubbles.