Sugar substitutes are commonly seen on the labels of organic and vegan products. But, are these suitable for the keto diet?
In this article, you will find the best keto sweeteners and those that you should avoid so you can achieve your fitness goals.
Here's What's In Store For You...
- Which Keto Sweeteners Raise Blood Sugar The Least?
- Can a Sweetener Raise Blood Sugar?
- Best Keto-Friendly Sweeteners
- What Keto Sweetener Should You Avoid on a Keto Diet
- Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which Keto Sweeteners Raise Blood Sugar The Least?
Can a Sweetener Raise Blood Sugar?
Of course, a sweetener can raise sugar levels, and when we talk about keto sweeteners, we cannot simply say that these low-carb sweeteners do not affect blood sugar.
It is also worth mentioning that a sugar substitute is different from a keto-friendly sweetener. For a sweetener to be considered keto, here are some following characteristics:
- Should contain less to zero calories, carbohydrates, and hidden sources of carbs
- Should not affect insulin levels and blood sugar levels
- Should not affect cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure
- Should come with no side effects, no matter how many doses
Also, take note that there are three main categories of sweeteners and each of these will be discussed in the following section.
1) Natural sweeteners
Natural sweeteners, also known as natural sugars, are those that are made from nature. They are organic and are not processed in the lab.
Also, natural sweeteners are made from concentrated components of edible plants.
However, not all of these are keto-friendly sweeteners.
2) Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols are made from hybrids of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules, and are processed naturally such as through fermentation.
Sugar alcohols are chemical compounds that activate the sweet taste receptors on your tongue.
Unlike natural sweeteners, sugar alcohols contain calories and carbs but not in huge amounts.
3) Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are those that are made via chemical processes.
These are also known as synthetic sweeteners that can stimulate your appetite, negatively affect your gut biome, and cause brain inflammation.
Although artificial sweeteners can provide some side effects, not all artificial sweeteners are unhealthy for human consumption.
There are still some artificial sweeteners that can fit the ketogenic diet.
Best Keto-Friendly Sweeteners
As said, not all low-carb sweetening agents are safe for those who are on a keto diet. Thus, you should know the keto-approved sweeteners that you can consider.
Also, keep in mind that different keto sweeteners can be used for different meals. Some are only used for beverages, those that can only be used for baking, and those that can be used for cooking meals.
Some sweeteners can be degraded when cooked while others can be damaged when frozen.
In this section, some of the best keto-friendly sugar options will be elaborated on.
Stevia, also known as sugar leaf, is one of the keto-approved sweeteners and it is extracted from a stevia plant.
Generally, this natural sweetener is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Imagine putting a small serving of this natural sugar into your favorite keto recipes!
Stevia is very popular in restaurants and widely available in the market. One great thing about it is that it can effectively lower blood sugar levels.
This natural sweetener can also reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and support immune function.
Many users consider this as a food supplement because it can also be used for the treatment of obesity.
Before buying this no-net carbs keto sweetener, check the nutrition label and see if there are fillers or additives used.
If you can, go for liquid stevia as this one is purer than a powdered one.
Powdered stevia usually contains fillers such as dextrose and maltodextrin.
These fillers can significantly increase blood glucose levels. For daily recommendations, use only around 1.5 grams of stevia per day.
- The stevia plant has zero net carbs and zero calories. Its glycemic index is also zero.
- According to a study in Denmark, this sweetener does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels, making it suitable for diabetic patients.
- Stevia is very sweet and it remains intact even at high temperatures.
- Based on many stevia users, this sweetener comes with a bitter aftertaste which is why many people also avoid it on organic products.
- May cause digestive issues in some users.
2) Monk fruit extract
Also known as Luo Han Guo, monk fruit extract is also one of the keto-friendly sweeteners you can consider. Like stevia, monk fruit is commonly used in supplements such as protein powders.
The extract of monk fruit is 200 times sweeter than sugar.
It has no carbs and zero calories, and its glycemic index is zero. Monk fruit contains sucrose and fructose which are regarded as safe compounds.
Monk fruit is also used in teas and can be bought in herbal stores and may come in powder and liquid form.
Sometimes, monk fruit extract powder is also mixed with sugar alcohols such as xylitol or erythritol.
- Monk fruit sweetener is one of the natural sweeteners that does not raise blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Monk fruit provides a better taste than stevia.
- Both powder and liquid monk fruit extract can be used in cooking.
- Monk fruit sweetener does not cause digestive issues, unlike stevia.
- Luo Han Guo comes with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Monk fruit sweetener contains zero net carbs and zero calories.
- Often mixed with fillers, prebiotic fiber, and sugar alcohols.
- Mixed in proprietary blends and sometimes, the amount of monk fruit is less in these blends.
Erythritol is one of the sugar alcohols that is considered keto-friendly.
This sugar alcohol is commonly extracted in corn but can also be found in other fruits and vegetables such as grapes, melon, and mushrooms.
If you wish to use this sugar alcohol, keep in mind that it can crystallize when placed in the fridge. Many users report that this sugar alcohol leaves a cooling taste in the mouth.
The FDA considers this sugar alcohol safe and it is absorbed and digested by the intestinal tract.
- Relatively contains low amounts of net carbs, around 0-5 grams per 100-gram serving.
- Erythritol does not raise blood sugar levels and insulin levels.
- The body does not process erythritol.
- May come in granulated and powdered form. Any of these forms are used to replace sugar. Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as regular table sugar.
- According to a study published in the International Journal of Dentistry, erythritol can prevent dental plaque and cavities.
- Cool taste rather than sweet taste.
- Does not dissolve easily in water.
- Erythritol may cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some users. These digestive issues are common in sugar alcohols.
If you are looking for amazing keto sweetener brands, you might want to take a look at Swerve. This keto sweetener tastes like caramel but you should only consume moderate amounts of these sweeteners to avoid digestive symptoms.
It is also one of the sugar alcohols and it is made from a mixture of erythritol and oligosaccharides.
- Great sugar alcohol for baking.
- Has zero glycemic index with no net carbs and low-calorie content.
- Swerve offers no aftertaste.
- Swerve does not affect blood sugar levels.
- Since Swerve contains erythritol, this sugar alcohol can also cause stomach upset.
Another sugar alcohol brand, Splenda has been a healthy, keto-friendly sweetener option for decades.
When it comes to its sweetness, it is two times sweeter than sugar. Generally, Splenda is made from sucralose.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, each packet of Splenda can provide around 1 gram of net carbs.
Splenda is also one of the 5 FDA-approved sweeteners. It is also known as a high-intensity sweetener that can be found in desserts, chewing gums, gelatins, and diet foods.
- Splenda packets come with no bitter taste, unlike other sugar alcohols.
- One of the best sugar alternatives for baking and cooking.
- Splenda packets may alter gut microbiomes.
- This is one of the keto sweeteners that are not suitable for baking.
If you are looking for sugar alternatives that taste like actual sugar, you might want to take a look at allulose.
This is one of the sugar alcohol sweeteners that contain no net carbs or calories, and has zero glycemic indexes! Allulose was first introduced in the market in the year 2015 and it is classified as rare sugar.
Its chemical structure is similar to fructose but the body does not metabolize it. Also, it is made up of monosaccharides found in wheat and certain fruits.
According to a study in Japan, allulose can benefit patients with type 2 diabetes and those with obesity. It can also improve insulin resistance and can reduce body fat.
- At low amounts, this sugar replacement option does not cause stomach upset.
- Recognized safe by the FDA.
- One of the suitable keto-friendly sweeteners for ice cream.
- Can prevent diabetes and heart disease.
- Comes with antioxidant effects.
- At high amounts, this sugar replacement option may cause digestive issues such as diarrhea, gas, nausea, and abdominal pain.
If you are on a keto diet, you might as well want to consider xylitol. However, you should limit your intake of this sweetener because xylitol is not one of the zero-carb keto-friendly sweeteners.
Per teaspoon of xylitol can provide around 4 grams of net carbs.
Furthermore, xylitol is one of the keto sweeteners that can be added to tea, coffee, and smoothies to enhance their flavors.
- Xylitol has a glycemic index of 13. In small amounts, it minimally affects blood sugar.
- Freezes better than other keto-friendly sweeteners.
- Xylitol can help prevent cavities when chewed in gums.
- Toxic for pets and may cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
8) Bocha Sweet
This is one of the new alternative sweeteners on the market. Bocha Sweet is extracted from pumpkin-like squash and it generally tastes like white sugar. It contains no calories or carbs, making it suitable for the keto diet.
Bocha Sweet is also known as the “Supreme Sugar Replacement”. It is a diabetic-friendly sweetener that can be used in cooking, baking, and making smoothies.
Take note that Bocha Sweet is a brand, and according to the manufacturer, there are no additives, fillers, and other artificial ingredients in this sweetener.
- One of the best plant-based, keto-friendly sweeteners.
- The granules are light and easy to dissolve.
- Does not cause gastrointestinal upset.
- No other positive effects on health. This artificial sweetener is mainly used to increase the sweetness of drinks and other keto recipes.
Inulin is extracted in chicory root and it only has 35% sweetness like sugar.
However, this one is one of the best keto-friendly sweeteners you can consider. When mixed, it can help improve the sweetness of other sweeteners and it comes with no aftertaste!
Inulin has no net carbs, fat, or protein. It also has a low-calorie profile, around 10 calories per 1 tablespoon.
Aside from acting as a sweetener, inulin also acts as a fiber. It naturally contains prebiotics that can support gut health. Aside from this, inulin also improves mineral absorption.
- Can help improve digestive health and optimize cholesterol levels.
- Inulin can improve the properties of sugar compared to other sweeteners.
- Easy to mix with other sweeteners.
- Unlike other sweeteners, inulin is rarely used in keto recipes.
- At higher doses, inulin may cause digestive issues. Some people take it as an advantage because, at higher doses, it can act as a laxative.
- Degrades when exposed to heat.
Tagatose is one of the natural sweeteners that contain no net carbs. They occur in dairy, fruits, and cacao, and are found to be 92% as sweet as table sugar.
Unlike xylitol, tagatose comes with a lower glycemic index. Also, comparing it with erythritol, it caramelizes easily and is not toxic to pets.
- Tagatose can increase cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar, and support gut health.
- Can pair well with other sweeteners.
- This sugar-free sugar alternative contains more calories than other sweeteners.
One of the best keto-friendly sweeteners includes sucralose.
Although sucralose may contain small amounts of glycemic index, it contains no net carbs and calories.
This keto-friendly sugar alternative may come in powder and liquid form.
Liquid sucralose provides the same nutritional value as powdered sucralose. Usually, the liquid sucralose is mostly found in drinks.
- This keto-friendly option is 600 times sweeter than sugar.
- One great thing about keto-friendly sucralose is that it does not affect blood sugar.
- This sugar-free sugar alternative may become chemically unstable when heated.
- Although sucralose is keto-friendly, it is not for cooking or baking.
What Keto Sweetener Should You Avoid on a Keto Diet
Even those sweeteners that contain low net carbs are still not considered compatible with those who are on a keto.
In this section, you will learn some of the sweeteners which keto dieters should avoid.
Malitol is 80% as sweet as sugar. It is made from the hydrogenation of corn syrup and it is very stable for cooking.
It is popularly used in sugar-free products such as candies, desserts, and low-carb foods.
Compared to other alternative sweeteners, this is the cheapest option that can replace sugar.
Aside from acting as a sugar-free sweetener, maltitol contains low calories and comes with no bitter taste.
Although this can be used by those who are on a low-carb diet, this sweetener can affect blood sugar levels negatively. Thus, diabetic patients may want to avoid maltitol.
Additionally, this artificial sweetener is not keto-friendly. It may cause digestive issues, especially at high doses.
If you are on a keto diet, you might want to avoid some artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
The net carbs of aspartame are around 85 grams per 100-gram serving.
This is also one of the popular alternative sweeteners that are used in diet drinks.
Aside from these, aspartame is associated with many health controversies such as multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, blindness, and methanol toxicity.
Although aspartame can fit cold dishes, at higher temperatures, it can degrade and may cause bitter and strange aftertastes.
The FDA considers aspartame a safe substance when used in moderation but too much of this may cause some health issues such as headaches and dizziness.
Saccharin is also one of the alternative sweeteners that contain no net carbs but is still considered non-keto-friendly.
Saccharin is a synthetic sweetener that is derived from naphthalene.
Today, this sweetener is no longer used because it is linked with cancer.
Some reports state that even at low doses, it can alter glucose tolerance in the gut.
When used for cooking, saccharin may produce a bitter aftertaste.
According to the FDA, in animal studies, saccharin is associated with bladder cancer. However, this has not been proven in human studies.
One of the sugar alcohols, sorbitol, provides 30 grams of net carbs per 100-gram serving.
Those who are on a keto diet should avoid it as its carbs content is high and it can raise blood sugar significantly.
Glycerol is also one of the sugar alcohols and it provides around 14 grams of net carbs per 100-gram serving.
Although this carbohydrate content is low, those who are on a low-carb diet may want to avoid it as it negatively affects both blood pressure and blood sugar.
Those who are on a low-carb diet might also want to avoid honey. Although honey occurs naturally, it is high in carbohydrate content.
A 100-gram serving of honey provides around 82 grams of net carbs and this can already exceed your diet.
According to a study in Illinois, although honey is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, it is not fit for a ketogenic lifestyle.
7) Yacon syrup
This is a plant-based sweetener and it is dark brown.
Generally, it tastes like caramel but it is rich in fructooligosaccharides, a type of carbohydrate.
One tablespoon of this support gives around 11 grams of net carbs. Although it has a low glycemic index, 1, it is still not keto-friendly.
Maltodextrin is one of the artificial sweeteners used for cooking.
It has a high glycemic index, around 85 that can increase your blood sugar in no time.
Although one tablespoon only gives around 4 grams of net carbs, its GI can already kick you out of ketosis.
9) Coconut sugar
Coconut sugar should also be avoided if you are on a keto diet. Although it truly tastes like brown sugar and caramel, it has a high GI, around 50-54.
In addition to this, per tablespoon can provide around 12 grams of net carbs.
In a study from Korea, coconut sugar is absorbed slowly into the system. Eventually, this can impair blood sugar control.
10) Agave nectar
This is a liquid sweetener that is rich in fructose.
As we all know, too much fructose can cause weight gain, and if those who are on a keto diet’s goal is to reduce weight, this sweetener is already not a good option.
Too much fructose can also lead to insulin resistance.
According to a study in Canada, this can cause diabetes, trigger metabolic syndrome, and other related health problems.
One tablespoon of this sweetener can give around 15 grams of net carbs.
Dates are fruits that are rich in sugar. Their GI is around 44-53 and this is relatively high compared to safe keto sweeteners.
Although dates are used to replace white sugar, keto dieters should understand that they are also high in carbs.
One cup of dates can provide around 110 grams of net carbs and this is too high for those who are on a keto diet!
12) Maple syrup
This syrup is commonly used in desserts. It is rich in amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
However, keto dieters should avoid this as it also contains a high amount of carbs.
The GI of this syrup is around 54 and a tablespoon of this syrup gives around 13 grams of net carbs.
13) Corn syrup
Corn syrup should never be considered one of the keto sweeteners.
The majority of this syrup contains glucose and this makes the sweetener unhealthy.
The GI of corn syrup is around 73 and a tablespoon of corn syrup gives around 16 grams of net carbs.
14) Acesulfame K
Acesulfame potassium may be low in net carbs but it is not suitable for a keto diet.
This sweetener is usually consumed in sugar-free drinks.
Although it contains low net carbs and has no calories, some people experienced an increase in blood sugar when they consume this sweetener.
It is nice to use sweeteners from time to time. However, not all sweeteners are suitable for those who are on a keto diet.
Some sweeteners can increase blood sugar levels while others may not. Others may also affect weight while others do not. However, the effects of these sweeteners vary from person to person.
For some keto dieters, achieving optimal health and healthy weight loss is by enjoying unsweetened foods.
This technique can help the body stay under ketosis as well.
However, for some keto dieters, this might not be the same.
Some people still try to adapt to unsweetened foods, which is why keto sweeteners are useful during these times.
Lastly, although keto sweeteners are safe to use, there are still some disadvantages. Usually, these cons are the side effects and blend-ability of the sweeteners.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What sweeteners can I use while on keto?
If you are on a keto diet, you should know which sweeteners can fit your diet type. Not all low-carb sweeteners are keto-friendly, so you should learn how to differentiate the suitable ones. Some of the sweeteners you can use while on keto include allulose, monk fruit, stevia, and erythritol.
What sweeteners can kick you out of ketosis?
Even the low-carb sweetening agents can kick you out of ketosis. These are non-nutritive sweeteners that can increase your blood sugar. Some of these include maltodextrin, maltitol, aspartame, saccharin, dates, corn syrup, and honey. According to some experts, even a small amount of these sweeteners can already make you gain weight.
What sweeteners are there in diet sodas?
Instead of sugars, artificial sweeteners are incorporated into diet sodas. Some of these are aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame potassium, or sucralose. Although some of these are low in carbohydrates, those who are on a keto should avoid them to maintain the body under ketosis.