What is Xanthan gum and can I use it on a keto diet?

  • Date: September 14, 2021
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Is xanthan gum your new keto weapon? Whether you’ve heard about it before, or this is your first time, we will take you through everything you need to know, including, whether you can use xanthan gum on a keto diet.

If you have been eating a keto diet for any length of time, it is likely that you will have come across xanthan gum. However, before you start adding it to any recipe, let’s learn what xanthan gum is, the health benefits and the side effects, how and when to use it, and, even more importantly, whether you can use xanthan gum on a keto diet. 

SPOILER ALERT: Yes, you can use xanthan gum on a keto diet, but, let’s learn a bit more about it before we do! 

What is Xanthan Gum?

Also known as ‘xanthum gum‘, or less commonly ‘xanthane gum‘, xanthan gum is a food additive that is used as a thickener and stabilizer. If you go and look at a jar of mayonnaise or salad dressing in your cupboard, it is likely that it will contain xanthan gum. It is also used in some medications.

It is made by fermenting sugars with Xanthomonas campestris bacteria, then processing them. These sugars are usually derived from wheat, corn, or soy. As the sugars are fermented, they are effectively ‘eaten’ by the bacteria in order to create an indigestible, soluble fiber gel.

The final stage in the production sees the gel being dried out, milled, and then ground into an off-white powder before it a packaged and sold commercially.

Is Xanthan Gum Gluten Free?

As we have gone through above, this product is often produced using derivatives from wheat. So if you are sensitive to gluten, you are best to check that the product is gluten-free before buying.

Is Xanthan Gum Vegan?

Most xanthan gums are vegan friendly, however, there are a few companies that will use diary-derived lactose and whey in their production process. Due to this is is always best to check with the manufacturer to ensure that 100% vegan-friendly products have been used in its production.

Is it GMO-free?

Again, it is best to check with the manufacturer as to whether the crops that they have used (likely soy or corn) have been genetically modified, prior to purchase.

Does Xanthan Gum taste of anything?

Xanthan gum does not have any taste, which makes it a versatile ingredient in cooking and baking.

Importantly, it is different from Guar Gum, which we will go through later.

What are the Potential Health Benefits of Xanthan Gum?

  • Ease Constipation / Regular Bowel Movements.  Studies have proven that consumption of xanthan gum can assist in easing constipation and more frequent bowel movements.
  • Help to stabilise insulin (blood sugar) levels. Research has shown that xanthan gum slows down the rate at which food is processed in your stomach. This means that digestive juices have a longer time to work on the food that you are digesting. The knock-on effect of this is that blood glucose levels rise a lot slower, meaning that you do not get a ‘spike’ in blood sugar levels.
  • Aids in digestion – as discussed in the above two points, the soluble fibre found in xanthan gum will aid in the digestion of food and your overall digestive health.

Will eating Xanthum Gum help me lose weight?

This is one of the main questions we get asked when discussing xanthan gum. Hold onto your hats, there is some medical research that suggests that eating xanthan gum as part of a healthy diet may assist with weight loss!

This occurs when the xanthan gum starts to absorb water in the gut, it swells as it creates a gel-like substance. This makes you feel fuller, and therefore, reduces the desire to eat additional foods.

So, on its own, xanthan gum is not going to make you lose weight, however, it may assist in making you feel fuller for longer and therefore, reduce the want to snack.

Is there any side effects of Xanthan Gum?

Although we have seen some amazing health benefits of xanthan gum above, there are a number of side effects that you need to be aware of.

None of these are likely to be enough to put you off using it but are side effects that you will need to be aware of in case they happen to you.

  • Increased gas (flatulence)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased bowel movements

What are the Nutritional Values of Xanthan Gum?

The below nutritional values are based on the 12-gram serving, which equates to one teaspoon of xanthan gum.

  • Carbs: 8 grams.
  • Protein: 0 gram.
  • Fat: 0 grams.
  • Fibre: 8 grams.
  • Sugar: 0 grams.
  • Calories: 35 cal

As you can see the carb count is quite high at 8 grams per teaspoon, however, we still need to work out the net carb count.

How many Net Carbs are there in Xanthan Gum?

As you can see from the nutritional value above, xanthan gum has 8 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fibre, therefore has zero total net carbs.

If the term ‘net carbs’ is new to you, check out this article where we take you through everything that you need to know.

Is Xanthan Gum is ok on a Keto Diet?

Xanthan gum is perfect for a keto diet. Despite being made from fermented sugars, this product has zero net carbs, making it perfect for anybody living on a keto or low-carb diet.

It is an excellent substitute for some of the non-keto alternatives such as cornstarch and it is likely that this will become one of your keto kitchen cupboard basic ingredients.

What does Xantham Gum do?

We’ve spoken a log about this ingredient, looking at the health benefits, the side effect, and whether it’s ok to use on a keto diet, but we haven’t actually gone through the uses of xantham gum!

Here we will take you through some of the main uses of xanthan gum on a keto diet and some of our favorite keto-friendly recipes that use this product.

As we have discussed above, the production process of xantham gum sees it being turned into a fine powder. When this powder is mixed with liquid, it creates a viscose gel-like substance. It also acts as a stabilizing agent. It is great for keeping ingredients together, i.e not letting them separate when in a container.

This is why xantham gum is often used as;

  • a thickening agent
  • a stabiliser
  • a suspending agent

So if you have been wondering how to thicken your keto sauces, you now know how!

Xantham gum is used a lot in keto and gluten-free baking because it takes on the role of gluten in that it keeps the baked products soft and moist. Some keto baking that does not use xanthan gum, or a similar product, can be dry and crumbly.

Keto Recipe ideas using Xanthan Gum?

There are 100’s of keto-friendly recipes using xanthan gum, but here is a round-up of some of our favorites;

  • Soups
  • Sauces / Gravy
  • Smoothies
  • Baked goods
  • Ice Cream

Check out our recipes that use it here..

How to Store Xanthan Gum

Due to the fact that xanthan gum likes to absorbed moisture, it needs to be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place. If not it will start to absorb moisture and ‘clump’ together.

Xanthan Gum not for you? Here are some keto-friendly alternatives to Xanthan Gum

If for whatever reason you feel that xanthan gum is not for you, here are some xanthan gum substitutes for you to consider.

  • Guar Gum Powder – Guar Gum is a plant derived ingredient that also has zero net carbs. It too is used in a lot of commercial products that you will find in most kitchen.

the difference between guar gum and xanthan gum is

  • Psyllium Husk Powder – is a plant based powder that is often used in place of flour, like xanthan gum, it is a soluble fibre and turns into a gel-like substance. It is often used in keto bread as it keeps the dough moist and slightly elastic when baked.
  • Konjac – this is another zero net carbs fibre derived from the root of plants. It is often used to make low-carb noodles and pasta alternatives. However, it can also be used in baked goods to give them their more elastic texture, in a similar manner to xanthan gum.
  • Agar – plant-based gelatin that can also be used as a thickening agent in recipes like soups and sauces. it contains approximately 0.5 grams of net carbs per teaspoon.
  • Gelatin – Gelatin is similar to Agar in that it can be used as a thickening agent. It is animal-based, so no good for vegetarians. One of our favourites uses for this is in our no-bake cheesecake.

Have a play around with some of these replacements for xanthan gum and see what you think.

Final Thoughts

Xanthan gum is an excellent choice for anybody wanting to replace carb-heavy products like flour and cornstarch. It is flavorless, colorless, and has zero net carbs, making it the perfect choice for anybody living a keto or low-carb lifestyle.

Let us know in the comments below what your favorite recipes are using xanthan gum!

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