Those who decide to embark on a keto diet for safe weight loss and other health benefits know that quitting refined sugar is one of the best things you can do for your health. Sugar addiction is real, and the second you ween yourself from it you’ll feel its absence in a good way: sweet foods shouldn’t burn your throat, shouldn’t hit your bloodstream like a freight train, and shouldn’t compromise your overall well-being. Luckily there are natural sugar substitutes that can deliver superior sweetness in a pinch, including sucralose, stevia, and erythritol: keto-friendly sweeteners that won’t hurt your diet or your health. We have the details here.
Table sugar is a dietary staple in the modern world, so normal that people often don’t question its presence in the first place. And yet, those who find their way to the low-carb ketogenic diet do notice it, as well as its impact on their blood glucose levels and metabolic health.
Sugar is detrimental to our well-being, especially when it poses as corn syrup and is snuck into unexpected food products. Sugar content is ramped up even more in children’s food to appeal to their taste buds. Sugar is a definite contributor to the diabetes and heart disease epidemics, as sugar consumption increases blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
While sugar detox isn’t pleasant, trading it out for natural sweeteners is so worth the trouble for you and your family. So without further ado, here are the facts on some of the top sugar replacements so you can decide which is best for you and your kitchen.
The goal of the keto diet is to enter a state of ketosis in which the body no longer uses sugar (glucose) for energy but instead burns fat for its fuel source. However, cutting out sugar doesn’t mean that a low-carb diet cancels out the sweetness in your food, because there are natural sugar alternatives you can choose from. Here are three of the top candidates readily available to sweeten your food without interrupting your diet or your metabolic health.
The artificial sweetener sucralose isn’t metabolized by your body, which means you can taste its sweetness without having to digest any carbs or calories whatsoever. The most popular brand of sucralose is Splenda, favored because it doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste common among some sweeteners.
Sucralose is free of calories, but keep in mind that Splenda is often combined with dextrose and maltodextrin, both of which are carbs, although the entire carb count is only 1 gram per packet. Great for sweetening drinks or foods like yogurt or your morning oatmeal, sucralose is not so useful for baking and has been linked to some negative health effects when heated, but that’s why there are other sweeteners on this list.
A natural regular sugar alternative that is also a zero-calorie sweetener (known as a nonnutritive sweetener), stevia comes from the sweet leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, and can be used in both powdered or liquid form in various recipes. It’s a safe sugar substitute for children, adults, and even pets (in case your fur babies tend to clean your plate after you’re done).
Up to 200 times sweeter than sugar, a little bit of stevia goes a very long way, so keep that in mind when you’re sweetening your favorite foods and beverages.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol (aka polyol) that naturally stimulates the tongue’s sweet taste receptors, mimicking regular sugar and helping you avoid unnecessary weight gain. Found naturally in fruits like pears, melons, and grapes, erythritol is a great option among keto sweeteners because it’s been shown to help lower blood sugar levels without the digestive discomforts linked to large amounts of some other types of sugar alcohols (like sorbitol).
Sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol are often found in sugar-free gum and don’t raise blood sugar levels dangerously. They won’t spike your insulin levels either, or count towards your net carbs. Erythritol can be used in cooking and baking with keto recipes too, a perfect sub-in for sugar.
While natural sweeteners like monk fruit and yacon syrup have the health benefits of blood sugar control, some are not so ideal, for ketosis reasons and more. A quick list includes:
Keeping a low-sugar ketogenic diet doesn’t mean you have to give up the sweetness in your life: there are keto-friendly sugar alternatives that are FDA approved for safety and that won’t kick you out of ketosis or spike your blood sugar. Choose the one that’s right for you or keep an assortment on hand when needed!