“Why keto?” That was the question to kick off an Oct. 24, 2018, webinar hosted by MEAT+POULTRY sister publication, Food Business News, and sponsored by Agropur, La Crosse, Wisconsin.

“It matches the environment — the food and frequency of eating — that our bodies were adapted to,” explained Eric Berg, doctor of chiropractic and a globally recognized ketogenic diet expert.

Not only does a ketogenic diet assist with weight loss plans, it’s also a powerful strategy to improve one’s health, according to Berg. Ketosis is a state when the body uses ketones — the byproduct of the body burning fat for energy — as its primary fuel. The body does this when it’s low on carbohydrates. This process has been shown to improve and even reverse Type 2 diabetes.

A keto diet is approximately 70 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and 5 percent each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables. Meat and poultry play a prominent role in the keto diet, which has the objective of switching the body from using sugar for fuel to using fat for fuel.

“Keto is moving from niche to fad because of concerns about sugar,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insights, Mintel, Chicago. “As consumers are questioning the roles sugar and fat play in weight management, the keto diet is gaining traction.

“Following a ketogenic diet requires dedication, careful meal planning and often demands a high level of nutrition knowledge in order to follow it correctly,” Dornblaser said. “Brands can appeal to consumers who are interested in trying a keto diet by providing keto-friendly products that are easy to use and help simplify the diet’s nutritional principles.”

That’s what many meat snack products are doing.

Washington, D.C.-based Ayoba-Yo markets all-natural grass-fed biltong that is keto and paleo certified. The snack is crafted with premium cuts of beef that are sliced by hand, marinated and dried by air for 14 days, instead of being heated or smoked like traditional jerky and meat snacks.

“The key is in our unique drying process,” said Wian van Blommestein, co-founder and youngest brother in the family business. “We use the same drying method our ancestors have been using for over 400 years, which results in a naturally tender beef snack that doesn’t need any sugar or chemicals, making our grass-fed beef snacks naturally paleo and perfect for the keto diet.

Source: DNX Bar

“The main goal of the keto diet is to send your body into a state of ketosis,” Blommestein said. “Ketosis causes your body to consume fat instead of glucose, leading to weight loss. To enter ketosis your diet needs to consist of low-carb foods, which also means avoiding sugar. Since Ayoba-Yo biltong is naturally sugar free and high in protein, it’s the perfect snack for keto dieters.”

Dornblaser explained that keto dieters tend to be younger consumers more focused on health.

“There’s opportunity to tailor product offerings — via form and flavor — to these younger consumers,” she said. “The biggest challenge facing the keto diet is persuading consumers to eat high levels of fat. Marketers must educate consumers how a high-fat diet works and what types of fats to eat.”

DNX Foods, Tucson, Arizona, is all about educating the consumer. The company is rolling out a DNX Grass-Fed Beef & Uncured Bacon Jalapeño Bar, which is fortified with the powerful benefits of grass-fed beef collagen (protein), which is known to reduce joint pain, decrease inflammation and protect tendons, ligaments and bones, an attractive feature for the health and wellness consumer. This new whole-food, dairy-free protein bar features 14 grams of protein and 9 grams of healthy fats from high-quality animal sources. It contains no sugar or sugar alcohols and only 1 gram of carbohydrate and is made with certified organic spices, grass-fed beef from New Zealand and Australia, and uncured bacon.

“It’s difficult to find high-protein, low-carb packaged food options that aren’t made from dairy or packed with sugar alcohols,” said DNX Foods’ founder John Rooney. “Our team of nutritionists, fitness experts and culinary artisans set out to change that. Designed with a simple recipe of purposeful and premium ingredients, plus the incredible nutritional value of grass-fed beef collagen, we’re proud to have created a keto-friendly bar that can also appeal to anyone looking for a hearty and super-healthy snack.”

Source: AYOBA-YO

Keto-friendly menu options are growing in foodservice, too. This requires careful use of marinades, sauces and any other ingredients that could contribute undesirable carbohydrates.

To assist diners with keeping their New Year’s resolutions, Chipotle Mexican Grill launched a collection of Lifestyle Bowls. The new line includes a Paleo Salad Bowl, Keto Salad Bowl, Whole30 Salad Bowl and Double Protein Bowl.

“Now more than ever, Americans are embracing new and varied approaches to healthy living and wellness,” said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer at Chipotle. “We’ve watched guests custom create lifestyle-specific bowls when ordering in our restaurants, so it made sense to offer delicious options via our online channels that help people easily order bowls with real ingredients that fit their wellness goals.”