If you have heard of xanthan gum before, you might be wondering how useful it can be and what people like to use it for.
You might have even seen it on a product label or an ingredient list and wondered what it does to that product. xanthan gum can be a little confusing and you might be curious as to why there is ‘gum’ in your food.
Well, it’s a very helpful ingredient and is used in recipes, as a thickening agent, and more.
In this article, we take a closer look at what xanthan gum is exactly, what it is made from, the national facts, and most importantly, if you can eat it on a ketogenic diet. Let’s dive in.
To put it in simple terms, we know you have always been told to always consume products where you recognize everything on the label. Where you can pronounce the ingredients and you have heard of them before.
However, all rules have exceptions, and what about if you see a product with ‘gum’ in it, it’s understandable you would want to know more.
You might be seeking information on what xanthan gum is exactly, how it’s used in your food and whether it is safe to eat on a low-carb or keto diet. That’s where this article comes in to help.
Xanthan gum is a food additive that is made out of polysaccharides and they serve the purpose of a stabilizer a thickener, or an emulsifier to a product.
It is commonly used to prevent any separation by increasing how thick a product is. Examples include dressings, gravy, sauces, and some non-dairy milk alternatives such as keto-friendly ice cream.
It is used as a substitute for the sticky properties of gluten or to replace foods such as wheat or eggs that people have allergies to.
Xanthan gum acts the same as adding cornstarch and it can increase the viscosity of a product. It also has a few health benefits too.
What Is It Made Of?
Xanthan gum is made by combining a chain of simple sugars-polysaccharides with micronutrients and Xanthomonas campestris, which is a type of bacteria and gives the agent its name.
This type of bacteria is not just responsible for the name but also helps to ferment the sugar. This helps to create a soluble but indigestible, fiber gel-like substance.
Even though the name suggests it is a gum, it is sold and used in the form of a powder. After the fermentation process, the substance is dried, it is then milled and ground up into a powder.
This is the final form of the xanthan gum which can be packaged and sold.
When the powder is added to any form of liquid, it disperses and dissolves and makes a stable and viscous solution. This is what makes the product popular in lots of different foods.
The chemical-like sounding name it has gives some people the impression that it is not very good for your health.
Moreover, if you are on the keto diet, you might not think it is keto-friendly as the three main compounds are simple carbohydrates that keto-dieters are told to avoid.
However, xanthan gum in its final form is mostly just soluble fiber. Fiber is a carbohydrate but your body can not process it as it cannot break it down.
This means the fiber absorbs water instead and turns it into a gel-like substance in your digestive system. This is what slows down your digestion.
Xanthan Gum And Safety
Despite what people might say, xanthan gum is safe to eat and can be used as a thickening agent, even whilst you are on the keto diet.
Moreover, as we mentioned earlier in the article, there are a lot of health benefits that come with it.
There is a study that relates it to the management of diabetes mellitus as a result of the mechanism of action which causes your digestion to slow down and affects how you absorb carbs.
Carbs take longer to be absorbed into the bloodstream and this is beneficial as it can stop your blood sugar from spiking after a meal.
Some studies suggest adding xanthan gum to your food can lower cholesterol levels. This is a result of the laxative properties, which also help with digestive issues.
Xanthan gum can help with weight loss too as, like protein and fiber, it enhances the feeling of fullness after you have eaten.
It slows gastric emptying and there is also evidence and research showing that it can help with fighting certain types of cancer.
There are limitations, however, and you should not exceed 15 grams of xanthan gum in one day. If you consume more than this, you can experience some side effects.
These side effects include intestinal gas-flatulence, diarrhea, bloating, altered gut bacteria, and an increased bowel movement from the laxative effects.
If you have intestinal issues already, you should avoid xanthan gum, especially in larger doses.
Xanthan gum is used in many different types of keto products and it has thickening properties that are used in a variety of products such as sauces, soups, juices, or smoothies.
It can be used when you cannot use other foods that naturally thicken the food due to intolerances or a higher carb count. These foods include apricot, bananas, and tapioca.
Xanthan gum is an emulsifier and can be helpful when cooking dishes on your keto diet. An emulsifier helps to combine fat-based ingredients with water-based ones and this is how you make a sauce or dressing.
Oil naturally separates from vinegar and when you add in xanthan gum, they combine. Another example of the same property is keto ice cream.
Although your portion will be smaller, in 100g of xanthan gum, there will be 333 calories and 77.78 grams of fiber, and the same for carbs. There are no net carbs and no fat or protein.
Eating Xanthan Gum On The Keto Diet
You can eat xanthan gum on the keto diet and it will not kick you out of ketosis.
As we have outlined earlier in the article, the product is made from simple carbohydrates- polysaccharides, but it is still keto-friendly.
Although this can be confusing to a lot of people as keto dieters tend to avoid carbs, if we refer back to the nutritional information, we can see that the total carbs are 77.78 grams, there are still no net carbs in such a big portion.
This is a result of the bacteria used to ferment the sugar eating the net carbs and turning them into the soluble fiber.
Fiber cannot be digested and does not count in your everyday macronutrient intake. This means is it perfectly safe to eat on the keto diet, but we recommend you stick with no more than 15 grams a day.
Xanthan Gum Substitutes
If you have an intolerance to xanthan gum or you have intestinal issues which means the product does not work with you, you might be looking for an alternative.
Luckily, there are plenty of replacements out there such as agar-ager, chia seeds, guar gum, flax seeds, gelatin, and psyllium fiber.
You could also use cornstarch as a thickening agent and you will likely have this in your kitchen cupboard already.
It is great for thickening up gravies, stews, and other sauces, and compared to xanthan gum, it has around the same amount of calories and carbs.
However, there is no sodium present. You should also make sure you check the label if you are gluten-free as not all cornstarch products are gluten-free.
Moreover, although it’s great for thickening up sauces, it’s not so great in your baked goods.
Egg whites are also another great substitutes that will not kick you out of ketosis and will help you bind your ingredients to create stability.
They are gluten-free and you should stick to one egg white for every 1 tablespoon of xanthan gum that the recipe calls for.
Where Can I Buy Xanthan Gum?
Since xanthan gum is increasing in popularity, you can find it in a lot of supermarkets and grocery stores.
It is even being used more and more by people with a low-carb and gluten-free lifestyle and this has made it popular in stores such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Sprouts.
You could also buy it online at stores such as Amazon: It’s Just – Xanthan Gum: Grocery & Gourmet Food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Xanthan Gum Keto-Friendly?
Yes! As we have gone through in this article, xanthan gum is a very safe and keto-friendly ingredient to use in sauces, gravies, stews, baking, and more and is already an ingredient in many low-carb products.
How Many Carbs Are In Xanthan Gum?
Although you might notice the carb count is high at 77.78 grams of total carbs in 100g, remember it is still keto-friendly as it contains 0 grams of net carbs.
We hope you have enjoyed this article on whether xanthan gum is keto-friendly and that you understand a little more about the product.
Although it is increasing in popularity, it is still quite unfamiliar to a lot of people and that’s why we are here to help.
Xanthan gum has become a secret weapon in keto-friendly products to thicken, bind, stabilize or emulsify and is a great source of soluble fiber! So why not give it a try today!