What is the Keto Diet and How is it Impacting Restaurant Franchise Owners?

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Every year, 45 million Americans go on a diet. But, it wasn’t until recently that the ketogenic, or keto, regimen made its way into the mainstream, even becoming the most-Googled diet of 2018. As health-conscious consumers become increasingly averse to carbohydrates and sugar, it stands to reason that the low-carb, high-fat diet generated a great deal of interest last year.

Now a $15.6 billion market, the ketogenic diet industry continues to surge, and more restaurants are looking to adapt their menus to accommodate a growing number of carb-cutting consumers.

Here’s more background on the popular diet, and how capitalizing on keto presents a strong opportunity for restaurant franchise owners:

Keto 101: The Basic Science behind the Low-Carb Lifestyle

The keto diet primarily involves replacing carbohydrates with fat and protein sources in order to minimize carbohydrate intake. Keto dieters dramatically cut their carbs to about 5 to 10 percent of their daily diet, which in some cases, can be just 20 grams of carbs per day. The remaining macronutrients within the diet are divided into approximately 55 to 60 percent fat and 30 to 35 percent protein.

Common keto-friendly foods include:

  • Seafood
  • Meat and poultry
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Low-carb vegetables
  • Avocados
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
  • Berries

The goal of the keto diet is to reduce carbohydrate intake to the point where the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis, which catalyzes weight loss. Our bodies normally burn carbohydrates for energy, but during ketosis, the body instead begins to break down stored fat to use as fuel.

Why Restaurants Stand to Gain from Guests Cutting Carbs

With such tight carb restrictions, however, it can be difficult for keto dieters to make the adjustment. Finding keto-friendly restaurants can be even more challenging, prompting many keto followers to avoid dining out.

For restaurant owners, this presents an incredible opportunity to break into a growing market of new consumers. By featuring low-carb menu options and modifications, restaurant owners can set themselves apart from competitors, answer strong demand and appeal to a much broader client base.

It’s not just carb-heavy pasta and pizza restaurants that stand to gain from adapting and diversifying their menu options, though. The revenue and growth potential of the largely untapped opportunity is just as substantial for wellness-oriented foodservice brands.

Because keto is so carb-restrictive, starchy fruits and vegetables are also off-limits – meaning so are countless menu items at health-focused food concepts. Blueberries and raspberries are some of the only fruits allowed in the keto diet, eliminating many smoothies, acai bowls and other health-focused foods from keto followers’ list of options. This was one of our primary motivations for launching the new Keto Champ™ blends at Smoothie King.

With keto-friendly menu options, guests can continue to enjoy a convenient, healthy and great-tasting smoothie without abandoning their low-carb lifestyle. Meanwhile, Smoothie King franchisees are positioned to capitalize on strong demand in a relatively untapped market, while continuing to play an integral role in each guest’s health and wellness journey.

By offering these keto-friendly smoothies, we’ve been able to accommodate a growing number of carb-conscious guests, as well as fill a new niche in the food-service segment.

Our commitment to innovation is not only the engine driving brand-wide growth and success, it has also positioned us as a leader in the smoothie segment for decades. With unparalleled market demand and strength of concept, Smoothie King has been a fan-favorite brand for guests and aspiring entrepreneurs alike.

To learn more about the Smoothie King franchise opportunity, download our Franchise Kit here.


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