Stevia is one of the commonly used natural sweeteners in many restaurants and keto protein powder supplements.
The reason why is because stevia contains zero net carbs.
Although it is nutritional, some people still reject this natural sweetener because of its bitter aftertaste.
In this article, we will tackle what stevia is, how it affects blood sugar, stevia nutritional facts, alternatives to stevia, and what artificial sweeteners should be avoided while on keto.
All You Need to Know About Stevia and Keto
Many people, especially those who are on a low-carb diet might wonder, is stevia keto? Stevia is one of the keto sweeteners used in many keto recipes and supplements.
Many individuals who follow a keto diet or with sugar addiction consider this as one of their keto-friendly sweeteners.
Stevia is sourced from a stevia plant with incredibly sweet leaves. Scientifically, a stevia plant is referred to as Stevia rebaudiana.
Aside from having no carbs, stevia is also a zero-calorie sweetener.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), this zero-calorie sweetener is safe to consume.
Furthermore, high purity stevia extract is rich in glycosides.
These compounds are responsible for the sweetness and beneficial effects of this zero-calorie sweetener.
Although stevia is sugar-free, it is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.
How Does Stevia Work
The glycosides in stevia include stevioside, rebaudioside A, rebaudioside C, and dulcoside.
All of these compounds are zero calories and sugar-free but can provide better sweetness than table sugar or brown sugar.
Can it Raise Blood Sugar Levels?
There are many artificial sweeteners and synthetic sweeteners in the food industry that are avoided as they can affect glycemic response negatively. Eventually, this can raise blood sugar.
With regards to stevia, this table sugar substitute does not raise blood sugar and insulin levels.
In a study from Florida, it was reported that the use of high purity stevia extract can lower blood sugar levels and improve blood glucose response, making this plant a promising therapy for patients with diabetes.
Concerning this, stevia rebaudiana has a zero glycemic index.
The glycemic index is a measurement of how fast certain foods can increase blood sugar levels after two hours of consuming them.
For individuals who want to address their sugar cravings without affecting blood glucose, stevia is truly a wonderful choice.
Additionally, for those who are following a keto diet, the intense sweetness of these compounds cannot kick you out of ketosis.
Instead, the regulated blood sugar and insulin levels would even enhance the production of ketones for you to lose weight effectively.
Stevia Nutritional Facts
For those who ask, is stevia keto? What makes it suitable for the keto lifestyle? Here is the answer.
Everything else in stevia is zero. Zero protein, zero fats, zero calories, zero carbs, and zero sodium.
Generally, stevia is only used as a sugar substitute to make your beverages taste sweet.
Health Benefits of Stevia
Although stevia is zero in macros and micros, it still offers many health benefits for those who are on a keto diet. Some of these will be discussed in this section.
1) Regulates blood sugar and insulin levels
Again, stevia does not raise blood sugar. Instead, this sweetener is considered a blood sugar-lowering agent.
In a study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, it was proven that stevia extract and liquid stevia can lower blood sugar and insulin levels of patients with diabetes, both while fasting and after eating.
In another study from India, it was reported that using stevia as a dietary supplement can lower blood sugar levels. Eventually, this can reduce the risk of liver and kidney damage.
There is also a comparison between the effects of sucrose (table sugar), aspartame, and stevia on blood sugar.
In a small-scale study from Florida, participants were asked to snack on meals that contain these artificial sweeteners and low-carb sweeteners.
The result? Those who snack on meals with stevia were able to get lower blood sugar levels than those who snack on meals with aspartame or sucrose.
2) Promotes weight loss
Because stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener, consuming it generally does not affect weight.
In a study from the United Kingdom, it was reported that stevia can promote weight loss and proper body weight management.
When combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, those who are following a keto diet for weight loss effect would surely achieve this in no time.
Furthermore, how stevia can promote weight loss due to its appetite suppression effects.
This sweetener can reduce hunger, and thus can prevent weight gain.
Click here to learn more about obesity and sugar consumption.
3) Promotes oral health
Aside from weight gain, the powdered form of stevia can also interact differently with the bacteria in the mouth.
According to the FDA, this can result in less bacterial and cavity formation.
In the study, the changes in salivary pH when drinking tea sweetened with regular sugar, sweetened with stevia extract, and unsweetened were examined.
The result showed that, after one hour, the pH of those who took stevia extract was higher.
This means that stevia is less basic than other sweeteners.
To conclude, stevia extract is more effective at preventing cavities and bacterial formation in the mouth.
3) Regulates blood pressure
Aside from regulating blood sugar, stevia extract can also regulate blood pressure. For patients with hypertension, this sweetener may be beneficial.
According to a study from Pakistan, it was found that stevia extract reduces blood pressure and works like how Verapamil does.
Sugar Alcohol as an Alternative
If stevia is keto-friendly, what about sugar alcohols? Are these sweeteners keto-friendly, too?
Sugar alcohols are organic compounds and they contain carbs that do not count as net carbs.
Unlike artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols contain calories, around 2.6 grams per serving.
Understand that sugar alcohols contain only half the calories sugar has.
The common sugar alcohols used together with stevia are erythritol and xylitol.
Other sugar alcohols aside from these are sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, isomalt, and lactitol.
Furthermore, sugar alcohols are usually mixed with other sweeteners such as the monk fruit sweetener to make the mixture more sugar-like.
Monk fruit extract is a low-carb sweetener that can be used as a substitute for stevia.
Because the latter comes with a bitter aftertaste, many people following a ketogenic diet prefer it better.
Risks of Sugar Alcohols
Although sugar alcohols are considered low-carb sweeteners, using them may come with some risks.
One of these risks is their ability to affect blood sugar levels negatively.
In a study from Canada, it was reported that like artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols can cause an increase in blood sugar by 0.41 mmol/L and can decrease glucose response by 0.93 mmol/L.
In another study from Italy, aside from affecting blood sugar, these sugar substitutes can also affect eye health and gut health.
In this study, it was reported that consumption of sugar alcohols can cause premature cataracts and digestive symptoms.
Other Low-Carb Artificial Sweeteners to Address Sugar Addiction
Aside from stevia, other sweeteners can also be used while following a ketogenic diet, and in this section, we will discuss these low-carb, keto sweeteners that do not affect body weight.
Erythritol is a sweetener that can also fit a low-carb diet. Typically, per teaspoon of this sweetener can give around 4 grams of carbs. Erythritol is also a low-calorie sweetener that does not increase insulin levels. Instead, this sweetener prevents insulin resistance.
Just like erythritol, xylitol is a low-carb sweetener. Per teaspoon of this sweetener can also give around 4 grams of carbs.
Unlike synthetic sweeteners, this one comes with health benefits.
In a study from Finland, it was reported that xylitol can improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Xylitol can also prevent insulin resistance.
3) Yacon syrup
Another low-carb sweetener, yacon syrup is rich in soluble fibers that feed the good bacteria in your gut.
It can prevent constipation and per teaspoon of this sweetener can provide around 3.5 grams of carbs.
4) Monk fruit
Monk fruit is one of the low-carb, keto-friendly sweeteners used in many supplements.
This sweetener contains no carbs and does not increase body fat that is why it is more preferred after stevia.
If ever you see sugar-free gum, this may contain monk fruit.
Get more info about the best and worst keto sweeteners here.
What Sweeteners Should I Avoid While on Keto
If you are following a keto diet, understand that not all sweeteners, even those low-carb ones, are compatible with your diet type.
In this section, we will discuss the sweeteners you should avoid while on a keto diet.
1) Coconut sugar
Although this sweetener is low-carb and one of the natural sweeteners, it is not considered keto-friendly.
Its GI is high and can increase your blood sugar significantly.
2) Maple syrup
Maple syrup is high in carbs. One tablespoon of this sweetener can give around 13 grams of carbs.
Thus, this one is not suitable for the keto diet. Along with maple syrup is high-fructose corn syrup.
3) Agave syrup
Agave syrup is made from 85% fructose. A 100-gram serving of this syrup can give around 76 grams of carbs, making it unsuitable for the keto diet.
This high-carb sugar goes along with Turbinado sugar.
Indeed, we cannot deny that we always crave sweet foods. But, for keto dieters, this sugar addiction should be avoided.
Fortunately, there are sugar alternatives that can be considered, and one of these includes stevia.
But, is stevia keto?
This sweetener is keto and it can satisfy your sweet tooth without causing any side effects.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What sweeteners are there in diet sodas?
A diet soda usually contains aspartame. This is a low-carb sweetener that can also be used for the keto diet. Aspartame is also used in sugar-free gums.
Does stevia affect blood sugar?
Stevia has a zero glycemic index. This means that this sweetener does not affect blood sugar.
What are the dangers of stevia?
According to the FDA, stevia is safe to use. However, those who are allergic to this sweetener should avoid it.