This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
If you’re not aware of what kimchi is, it’s a staple of Korean cuisine that refers to fermented vegetables.
With its complex flavor and variety of purposes, kimchi can be paired with almost any dish you can think of.
But is kimchi keto-friendly?
We talk about the health benefits of kimchi and how it affects your ketosis and weight loss.
How is Kimchi Made?
One of the most predominant foods in Korean culture is kimchi. Making this flavorful, sour treat made of cabbage involves the process of fermentation.
First, the vegetables are salted to draw out the water and preserve them.
Then, they are fermented by wild cultures that are naturally occurring in the vegetables. Fermentation is originally a way to preserve vegetables during the winter months.
During this process, organic acids like lactic and acetic acid are formed.
Then, it ferments at room temperature in a day or two.
The components of kimchi usually include some combination of vegetables, garlic, ginger, salt, and fish sauce. But there are hundreds of varieties, depending on the region and season.
For example, Jeonju, the food capital of Korea, makes kimchi that is stronger than other variations.
What Does Kimchi Taste Like?
Kimchi has a very diverse and complex flavor. You’ll find sour, spicy, and umami notes when you taste it.
The most prominent flavor you’ll notice is the sourness because of fermentation. The process creates a tangy flavor like sauerkraut.
The flavor also depends on the vegetables you choose, the length of fermentation, and the number of condiments you add.
Is Kimchi Good for Weight Loss?
Kimchi is nutrient-dense and low in carbs, which is why many weight loss enthusiasts love it. But is it really good for weight loss?
Aside from being low in calories, fresh kimchi can help reduce body weight and fat.
In one study, 22 people with excess weight ate fresh fermented kimchi and reduced body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat. It also decreased their blood sugar levels.
However, this single study may not be enough to prove that kimchi aids in weight loss. It’s still unclear which parts of the kimchi helped boost weight loss.
Some experts think it’s because of the low-calorie count, high fiber content, and beneficial probiotics.
Health Benefits of Kimchi
Aside from weight loss, kimchi is a low-calorie food that is full of nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, at least 10 different minerals, and over 34 amino acids.
The fermentation process itself already offers a lot of benefits. For instance, it creates an environment that allows good bacteria to thrive in the body.
Here are some other potential health benefits of kimchi.
Prevents Yeast Infections
Animal and test-tube studies show that certain strains of Lactobacillus can help fight candida, the main cause of vaginal yeast that affects millions of women every year.
Multiple isolated strains from kimchi have antimicrobial properties against candida.
It should be noted that these studies are not adequate as human studies are still needed.
Experts reveal that kimchi can help increase lifespan because of its anti-inflammatory agents.
In one animal study, kimchi extract was given to mice for two weeks and they showed reduced levels of inflammation-related enzymes
Supports Heart Health
Another health benefit of eating kimchi is a decrease in your total cholesterol, especially LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Boosts Immune System
Kimchi contains a certain strain of Lactobacillus that can help protect your immune system.
This aids in treating and preventing candida, a type of fungus, because of its antimicrobial properties.
May Slow Aging
In a test-tube study, human cells treated with kimchi experienced an extended lifespan. This means it can help delay the aging process by regulating inflammation in the body.
Carbs and Sugar in Kimchi
The amount of carbs in kimchi depends on the recipe or brand. To give you an idea, making kimchi requires cabbage, spring onions, chili powder, ginger, garlic, and more.
All of these ingredients are safe to eat when on keto, so kimchi should be very low in carbs.
In general, a 1-cup serving of kimchi contains around 4 grams of carbs, and provides other beneficial nutrients, like fiber, sodium, folate, vitamin C, and more.
If you’re concerned about whether kimchi has sugar or not, it depends on the product. Many store-bought kimchi brands tend to be loaded with sugar, while others do not. So make sure you check the label and ingredients.
It’s always best to choose kimchi that contains little to no sugar to maintain your ketosis and to appreciate the original tangy taste of this Korean dish.
Sugar can kick you out of ketosis and stall your weight loss efforts.
Is Kimchi Keto-Friendly?
If you like kimchi, you don’t have to worry about it kicking you out of ketosis. You can have a serving of this dish without the guilt.
Remember that the keto-friendliness of food or drink isn’t only based on whether it will kick you out of ketosis or not.
As mentioned, kimchi has fiber, sodium, vitamins B6, C, K, folate, iron, niacin, and riboflavin.
However, some brands of kimchi may not be keto-friendly. Make sure you are buying authentic kimchi with little to no sugar or other unnecessary ingredients.
If you can’t handle eating spicy food, kimchi may not be for you. But even if you can, one serving a day is enough. Don’t eat it with every meal!
Keto Kimchi Recipe
This kimchi recipe by Keto Babble is one of the best! They even recommend adding it to your omelet to make kimchi scramble.
All you need is the following:
- 1 head Napa cabbage
- 1 tbsp salt
- ½ daikon radish
- 4 medium spring onions
- 2 tbsp ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp red pepper flakes or ¼ cup Korean hot pepper powder
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
One serving of this kimchi only has 1g of carbs!
Keto Kimchi Ideas
Kimchi is a versatile side dish, so you can have creative ways to use it in your keto-friendly cuisine.
Here are two unique ideas for you.
Kimchi Beef Stew
If you have an instant pot, you can try making low-carb kimchi beef stew. This recipe from Two Sleevers is full of spicy, umami flavor.
It only requires the following:
- 2 cups of kimchi
- 1 pound of beef cubes
- 1 cup of onion
- 1 cup of shitake mushrooms
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Gochugaru
- 1 tbsp gochujang
- 2 cups water
- Salt, to taste
- Green scallions
Kimchi Scrambled Eggs
If you want something simpler, try making kimchi scrambled eggs. Simply make a basic omelet and add your kimchi at the end for that tanginess in your breakfast.
FAQs Kimchi and Keto
Can I Heat Kimchi in Vegetable Oil?
People love eating kimchi both ways, but the healthiest type of kimchi is one that is cold or barely warmed.
Eating fresh kimchi will give you the best probiotic benefits because heating it will kill the beneficial bacteria.
Kimchi is a versatile dish, but if you want it hot, don’t cook it with vegetable oil. This oil isn’t the “heart-healthy” fat that you think it is.
Go for healthy types of oil on the keto diet like avocado oil.
Here are other reasons to avoid vegetable oil on the keto diet.
Can You Do a Vegan Keto Diet?
Some may find it unsustainable, but vegans who want to go low-carb, or keto dieters who want to go vegan can try it.
There is no need to choose between the two when you can get the benefits from both. All you have to do is find plant-based and healthy protein and fat sources.
The vegan keto diet has many health benefits, such as hormonal balance and skin health!
Find out more basic information about the vegan ketogenic diet.
What are Other Healthy Snack Ideas on Keto?
Kimchi is more of a side dish than a stand-alone snack, but you can eat it in between meals to satisfy your cravings!
It’s okay to snack on the keto diet to increase the amount of fat you are consuming. Just make sure that these foods are low-carb to help you stay in ketosis.
We have a guide on healthy keto-friendly snacks you can try!
Kimchi is Keto!
Your favorite Korean food is keto-friendly! This unique spicy, tangy, savory, and sour food contains a fairly low amount of carbs.
Fermentation makes kimchi healthy because it promotes the action of yeast and allows good bacteria to thrive in the body.
Does that mean alcohol, which is also made through fermentation, is acceptable on keto? Learn how alcohol consumption affects your ketosis.