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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Know Brainer Hot Drinks > Test Report by Coy Ray StarnesKnowBrainer Keto Instants
Review by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: September 6, 2017
Long Term Report: February 1, 2018
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy hiking, hunting, fishing, kayaking. I enjoy hiking with family and friends but also hike solo occasionally. Most of my hiking has been in the Southeastern US. I hike throughout the year but actually enjoy late fall or early spring the most with some winter hiking mixed in. I don't like the hot and humid weather of summer unless I can escape to the mountains were it is cooler. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability to a degree. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9kg) not counting food and water.
Initial Report: September 6, 2017
The KnowBrainer Keto Instants are a new product and the company website says available soon. They are basically the same as the already available creamers except now coffee is included inside the packet. In other words, the backpacking coffee lovers dream come true in a convenient package that just needs hot water. But instead of just an ordinary instant coffee and creamer mix it is a Keto friendly concoction. In addition to coffee there are tea and hot chocolate mixes. I will be testing three ketogenic instant coffees (original, mocha and french vanilla), one keto instant chai tea, one keto instant hot chocolate, and one original keto creamer.
KnowBrainer Keto Instants are made with pure MCT oil, organic grass fed clarified butter, has no added sugar and uses no artificial flavors. The Instants come individually packaged in foil packets that are about twice as wide and twice as tall as a typical condiment package like ketchup found at say a McDonalds.
The directions are printed on the back of the package and are simple to knead and squeeze before opening and adding to a cup of hot water. The caloric content of each packet varies depending on the flavor but average about 210 calories with 170 of those being from fat. One advantage of a high fat food for backpacking is that fats pack more calories per ounce than carbs or proteins. I was surprised to learn that an ounce of fat packs 240 calories while an ounce of carbs or protein only have 100 calories per ounce.
I am not a doctor and I did not stay in a Holiday Inn last night so anything I say is strictly my own opinion and based on my limited research into the Keto diet. I will report on how easy it is to use and how well I like the Keto Instants in my Long Term Report, but for now I thought I'd share why I wanted to test these products. I'm also not here to convince anyone to try going Keto. The Ketogenic diet was originally discovered when dramatically limiting carbs and increasing fats was found to help lower seizures in Epilepsy patients. Other claimed benefits of a Ketogenic diet are less joint inflammation, improved memory, and weight loss. The weight loss is partly attributed to the fact that fats satisfy hunger while carbs lead to cravings.
I just recently became aware of Ketogenics and after some digging I was convinced that the science behind it was sound. It is basically a diet that replaces carbs with fats, preferably healthy fats. The principle behind it is that fats are more readily available in the body so there is less need to refuel as often. Ketosis is when the body is burning fats as the main fuel source but eating just a few too many grams of carbs throws the body out of Ketosis. I read an article about a successfully Everest attempt without bottled oxygen in which the climber attributed his success to his Keto diet. He basically bonked near the summit in a previous attempt and set out to fix the problem. He reported that after changing his diet he felt like he had boundless energy even when exercising on an empty stomach. He did report that it took him several weeks to transition from a carb burner to a fat burner but once fat adapted he could go for long workouts and not bonk, wake up in the morning and go for hours without eating. His target macro profile was 60% fats, 30% protein and 10% carbs. I have been tracking my food intake using an app on my iPhone and it is not easy to keep carbs that low. Here is what the profile of the French Vanilla coffee and hot chocolate look like. I had to manually enter these into the app since they are completely new to the market.
I am excited to incorporate the KnowBrainer Instants into my hiking routine. Please stay tuned for my Long Term Report to find out how they worked for me.
Long Term Report: February 1, 2018
Test Locations and Conditions
I used the KnowBrainer Instants on three overnight trips and consumed two of the packets in the comfort of my home. All the hiking trips were in local woods near my home. Fortunately, I have some very nice hiking areas right out my front door. I did use the chocolate one evening in camp and saved the two coffee flavors and green tea for breakfast. My first overnight trip was on October 18th, I hiked about 4 miles (6 km) total, the overnight low was 50 F (10 C). My second overnighter was on December 4th. I hiked approximately 6 miles (10 m) total and the overnight low was 54 F (12 C) but it was one of those strange nights when it actually warmed up a little during the night. It also rained off on and on during the night. My last overnight was on December 12th, I hiked about 4 miles (6 km) total, the overnight low was 50 F (10 C). I crossed creeks and small streams and went up and down several steep hills on all my overnight and day hikes.
Field Test Results
My first observation is that using the KnowBrainer Instants was extremely easy in the field. I did notice that sometimes there were a few hard lumps in the package but I could put a packet in my pants pocket for about 30 minutes which warmed it up slightly and then knead it well with my hands and it would disappear. I also noticed a little residual left in the bottom of my MSR Ti-Kettle after drinking the mixture but I was able to clean it easily by adding just a little more water to the cup, rinsing that out, adding a little more water and and heating it to almost boiling for a final rinse. This wasted a little fuel but with the small amount of water I used, not much. Here are a few photos of the process I followed in the field, minus the cleanup.
boiling my water before adding the KnowBrainer Instant
this is what the mocha flavor looks like after mixing
the leftover residual after drinking
And now for the important part. I found that I had mixed results as far as how much I enjoyed each flavor and depending on whether it was a coffee mix or not. I should add that at home I usually drink cold brew coffee and add organic butter, MCT oil and a little honey for sweetener sometimes. I liked the original creamer the best. I drank it at home in a cup of my cold brew coffee. I did not add any sweetener and it tasted a lot like what I have made myself just adding organic butter and MCT oil. My second favorite was the hot chocolate mix. It had a slight off taste that reminded me of low calorie soft drinks. I know artificial sweeteners are not added but that is the closest thing I can come up with to describe the taste. And for the record, I do not like any of the artificial sweeteners, whether packets I add or drinks with it already added. My third favorite was the green tea mixture. I’m not a big tea drinker and that goes double for green tea. My fourth favorite was original coffee. It was not as good as the cup I made using my own coffee and the original creamer but think this is because the coffee used was different than what I’m used to. I base this reasoning on the fact that I liked the original creamer the best and it was using my own coffee that I’m used to. I’m going to call it a tie for my least favorite between the French vanilla and the mocha. Interestingly, these were the only flavored coffee mixes I tested. I made the French vanilla at home and let my wife taste it as well. She said it was OK but like me, not great. Anyways, not sure if it is the coffee or the flavoring but since I liked the ones with added flavor the least I'm guessing a combination of both with the balance tilting towards the flavorings used.
While I wished the flavored varieties tasted better I was pleased with the taste of the original. The creamer only was actually the best tasting but unfortunately it would require taking my own coffee which defeats the simplicity of just carrying one packet for a nice hot cup of joe. I do appreciate the fact that all the KnowBrainer Instants are keto friendly. I also know that different people will taste things differently so these results may or may not apply to someone else. The variety pack is a good way to find out which ones will be best for you. Also remember that there are more flavors than what I tested.
This concludes my testing of the KnowBrainer Instants. I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and KnowBrainer for this testing opportunity.
Read more gear reviews by Coy Ray Starnes
Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Know Brainer Hot Drinks > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
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