Every dieter who tried the keto plan will tell that they had cravings for sugar. Some people stay consistent for a period of time, then they let themselves have a cheat meal as a reward. From that point, they get back to their old habits.
Especially if you are addicted to sugar, the cravings can be so intense. Fortunately, there are some keto-friendly alternatives for sugar that can fill your needs.
And here comes the importance of sweeteners.
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What About Sugar?
If you are already on keto diet you know that carbs are very restricted (Less than 20 grams per day). For this matter, sugar, with all it type, should be avoided.
Dates, Coconut sugar, white or brown sugar are all 100% carbs. A small amount can get you out of ketosis, in addition increasing blood glucose and stalling weight-loss.
If your main goal is to lose weight then don’t eat sugar.
However, we all need a little sweetness in our eating. This is where keto-friendly sweeteners become really handy.
Types Of Sweeteners
Most of us don’t know that there could be something else to add to your coffee or beverage instead of white or brown sugar. That there are some sweeteners out there free of carbs and have little to no calories. Sounds too good to be true, so let’s find out.
There are 3 main types of sweeteners: Natural, Artificial (Synthetic), or sugar alcohol. Each type provide a variety of low and high-carb sweeteners.
If you want a quick recommendation, I suggest that you stick to natural ones, stevia and monk fruit especially, and pay more attention to those on the list below.
Even though you promote weight-loss by consuming whole foods, that’s not always the case on keto diet. There are some natural sweeteners that you should avoid.
Like honey for example. Unlike sugar, which is composed of fructose and glucose, it provides more fructose which is linked to some health issues. In fact, it increases blood sugar slowly.
The same thing applies to corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, molasses. They might be good if you are focusing on bulking but not on keto diet.
Sweeteners To Avoid
Sweeteners can make your life easier on keto, but there are others that can make it even harder.
These are, of course, the ones that are high in carbs. Unfortunately, the list is large but you can easily live without them, since there are better options.
Here is a list of some sweeteners that should be avoided because they can get you out of ketosis and increase blood sugar level:
- Maltitol: It is 80% as sweet as table sugar. Even though it is used in a lot of low-carb products, it is still not recommended on keto diet. In fact, it was proven that Maltitol increases blood sugar and insulin response.
- Corn syrup: Maltitol is made from corn syrup. So it makes sense that it is also not good on keto. It is very high in fructose which is linked to several negative health effects.
- Coconut Sugar: Made from the sap of coconut palm, coconut sugar is also high in fructose. It is loaded with carbs and slower to absorb than table sugar. That’s why it is not recommended on the keto diet.
- Honey: It is very nutritious compared to other sweeteners and can be accepted in some low-carb diets. However, it is not keto-friendly. Also, it is high in fructose.
- Fruit Juices: Even though there are a lot of keto-friendly fruits, it’s better not to consume fruit juice on the keto diet. Most fruits used as sweeteners are high in carbs – more than 20 grams – which means they can’t fit into the diet.
- Soft Drinks: Soft drinks, even when they have no calories, can maintain cravings for sugar. Not to mention that most sodas are high in carbs. You can drink diet soda occasionally, but it is better to avoid them.
Sweeteners can be natural or artificial. What matters is how many carbs they provide and how much they can raise you blood sugar (GI).
So here is a list of low-carb sweeteners, ordered by the number of carbs:
Allulose is a natural sweetener, low in carbs, low in calories and doesn’t raise blood sugar level. It also has a lot of health benefits, which makes it highly recommended on keto diet.
This natural sweetener provides between 0 and 5 grams of net carbs, 20-40 calories, and a glycemic index of 0. But the question here is, can it satisfy your sweet tooth?
If you haven’t tried allulose yet you are missing out. It is 70% as sweet as table sugar but contributing 90-95% fewer calories. It’s great not only for keto but also to fight sweets addiction especially if you struggle with intense cavings.
Allulose is safe to consume in small quantities. In fact, research has shown that consuming 15 grams of allulose per day for 12 weeks has no side effects.
Stevia is another natural zero-carb sweetener. It was discovered by native south Americans when they found a plant with very sweet leaves. Just to give you a picture of how sweet it is, if you haven’t tried it, it is 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar.
However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is safe to consume. It is not toxic and has little to no effect on your overall health, even on high doses. But, what is its impact on a keto diet?
First of all, stevia contains 0 grams of carbs which makes it ideal for keto. Secondly, and most importantly, it lowers blood sugar and insulin levels. This means it helps you reach ketosis.
For these reasons, stevia is recommended by experts on keto. In fact, many studies have shown that it has potential roles in insulin resistance and diabetes.
If you are already familiar with sweeteners you may know Splenda. Well, that’s a sucralose-based sweetener.
Unlike the first two, this is an artificial sweetener, a good substitute for sugar but it is extremely sweet. Even more than stevia, sucralose is 600 times sweeter than table sugar. This means that little doses can be enough.
Candy bars, soft drinks, and canned fruits. These usually contain splenda. Carbs in Sucralose are only fibers, so it is 0 net carbs and suitable for keto.
However, it is not suitable for recipes that require baking because it was proven that it can produce harmful impacts in exposure to high temperatures.
Erythritol is our first sugar alcohol on the list. It is significantly low in carbs and calories compared to table sugar. It provides 0-5 grams of net carbs and 20 calories per 3 ounces.
However, it is not the sweetest thing on the list. It is just 80% as sweet as table sugar with a glycemic index (GI) of zero. This helps you stay or reach ketosis by lowering blood sugar and insulin levels.
Moreover, studies have shown that erythritol has antidiabetic potentials by reducing glucose absorptions in the intestines.
#5 Monk Fruit Sweetener
Monk fruit was mainly used as a medicine for the common cold and digestive remedies. But now it is found in markets as a low-carb sweetener.
This natural fruit is incredibly sweet, 250 times sweeter than table sugar. So, small doses can give the same taste like a large amount of regular sugar while providing lower carbs and calories.
Monk fruit doesn’t effect your blood sugar, its glycemic index is 0. It contains 0-25 grams of net carbs depending on the product in the market. These properties make it great for keto.
Packed with nutrients and antioxidants, monk fruit provides a lot of health benefits, that’s why it is recognized as safe by the FDA.
In fact, it fights infection, reduces stress and can prevent chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
If it’s almost perfect then you might be thinking why it’s 5th on the list.
Well, the problem that it’s so expensive and to make it affordable, they may add substances that doesn’t make it keto-friendly.
Xylitol is another type of sugar alcohol but very similar to table sugar in taste.
Small amounts of this sweetener can contribute to oral hygiene, that’s why we find Xylitol mostly in toothpaste and sugar-free gums.
Carbs in Xylitol are fibers. That’s why we don’t count them as net carbs. Also, they provide a lot of health benefits like lowering cholesterol levels but they don’t affect blood sugar and insulin levels.
Even though the health benefits of Xylitol are not 100% proven, it is useful for every type of food. Drinks, juices, recipes… You just have to be careful with the amount you consume.
To have a better idea on keto sweeteners, here is a list of all popular ones:
|Sweetener||Type||GI||Carbs (per serving)||Calories (per serving)|
How To Add Sweeteners To Your Meals?
If you badly want to eat sugar it is better to try low-carb sweeteners in order to cope with your cravings. As you may know from the list above, not all sweeteners can be baked so in this case, it is better to use natural ones.
On the other hand, every type of low-carb sweetener is suitable for soft drinks, smoothies, juices, and cold meals. You just have to be careful not to make it extremely sweet because that can intensify your cravings.
To Sum Up
Two factors determine whether a sweetener is keto-friendly or not:
- How it affects blood sugar levels?
- What is its impact on insulin response?
Based on that, we can agree that sugar should be avoided at any cost, along with other high-carb food like honey, coconut sugar, corn syrup…
On the other hand, a green light on allulose, stevia and monk fruit. They are by far the best sweeteners not only because they are keto-friendly but also because they are natural.
For the rest of the list, the sweeteners are technically keto but it’s better to eat something more natural and have confirmed health benefits.
Wondering what to eat on a keto diet?
We provide you a 7-day keto plan with our top picks dishes. We made sure that you will get low-carbs and high-fat meals with the most tasty flavors. And, of course, we want it to be for everyone, that is why it is a Plan on Budget.