Are you looking for keto friendly sweeteners?
Do you find yourself craving something sweet? If so, it might be time to break your sugar addiction. One of the most complex parts of starting a low carb or keto diet is breaking their sugar addiction. We’re fortunate that now we have a wide variety of keto friendly sweeteners to help make this transition easier. But, unfortunately, a considerable amount of sugar lurks hidden in the foods and drinks common amongst our diets. Luckily enough for us, those sugar cravings will eventually disappear, and you can use our list of keto approved sweeteners to help you make it through the transition!
As a keto beginner, your body will still be craving all of the sugar-laden snacks and meals you’ve been accustomed to eating. Even those who aren’t particularly keen on desserts can be taken aback at just how much sugar is hiding in many foods otherwise perceived as healthy. An easy way to deal with these initial cravings and prevent falling off the keto macros wagon is to use a low carb sweetener to craft something that satisfies that sugar craving.
Even those who aren’t particularly keen on desserts can quickly become overwhelmed at how extensive hidden sugars are in what we perceive as “healthy foods.” As a keto beginner, your body will still be craving all of the sugar-laden snacks and meals you’ve been accustomed to eating. Luckily there is an easy way to deal with these cravings by using low carb sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit extract (known for being virtually calorie-free while also satisfying that need for something sugary). It is important to note that not all sugar substitutes will have low net carbs or be zero calorie sweeteners.
The Impact of Sweeteners on Blood Sugar
Some natural sweeteners have indeed been found to have a low impact on blood sugar levels at the same rate or less than sugar. Stevia and coconut sugar are two examples with a zero glycemic index rating, meaning they won’t cause significant spikes in your blood glucose and insulin levels when consumed. It’s also true that many fruits can be sweeter than anything made from an artificial sweetener or high-sugar foods. Apricots and persimmons are good examples of naturally sugary fruits.
If you’re looking to avoid sugar altogether, then you should choose a keto friendly sweetener that will not cause spikes in blood glucose and insulin levels. This is especially true if your body has problems maintaining healthy levels of these substances on its own due to chronic diseases like diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Many different foods can help you achieve the desired ketosis state. Reaching a different balance of blood glucose and insulin levels is also beneficial for losing weight or keeping it off. In addition, insulin resistance often improves rapidly for those who embark on a keto or low carb diet.
The Keto Approved Sweeteners List
Monk Fruit Sweetener
Monk fruit sweetener is a natural sweetener that has been around for decades but has grown in popularity recently. A primary reason for both due to it being more readily available and the increase in popularity of low carb diets. Created from the dried juice of the monk fruit or “Buddha fruit,” this natural sweetener was approved by the FDA in 2010. It doesn’t contain any fructose or glucose and instead gets its’ sweetness from the antioxidant Mogrosides. As a result, monk fruit sweetener is a fantastic sugar substitute with zero impact on the glycemic index and one of the most popular low carb sweeteners.
As a naturally derived, zero-calorie, and supremely sweet – this keto diet approved sugar substitutes one of our favorites. With monk fruit having zero calories and a sweetness level on the order of 100-250 times sweeter than sugar, it’s an excellent substitute for sweetening up a keto recipe or low carb drink. Another side benefit is the anti-inflammatory properties associated with the Mogroside antioxidant found in monk fruit.
Monk fruit is related to the mangosteen, a low sugar and low carb tropical fruit used for centuries. Ancient Asian monks ate this juicy treat and drank tea made with it as part of their diet, which helps them live longer and healthier lives free from complications like diabetes or high blood pressure. The monk fruit can also help us transition into our new ketogenic lifestyle because there are so many delicious foods we can still enjoy and stay within their keto macros.
Stevia is by far one of the most popular zero carb sweeteners currently and prized for what it doesn’t do – add calories or carbs. This plant-derived sweetener is related to the daisy and is native to Paraguay and Brazil, where locals have been using this plant to sweeten food for centuries naturally.
With zero calories and a sweetness level 200 times that of sugar, it is a potent sweetener. Along with being keto macros friendly, studies have shown that it can help lower blood sugar and have a zero glycemic index. You can commonly find it sold in both powder and liquid drops form for ease of use.
One of the most popular keto friendly sweeteners, stevia is a plant-derived sugar substitute in both liquid drops and powder form. The extract from this native Paraguayan herb has been used for centuries to naturally flavor food with sweetness. It contains zero calories or carbs – making it an ideal choice for low carb diets like keto. Studies have shown that Stevia can potentially help lower blood sugar levels due to its natural compounds, which are found solely within the leaves of stevia plants themselves.
Erythritol is a different type of sweetener in that, while found naturally, it is a primarily artificial sweetener. It is a carb called sugar alcohol and is commonly found in many prepackaged low carb foods. Erythritol is one of the more recent additions to the field of low carb sweeteners, with it approved by the FDA in 2001 for use for sugar substitutes. As a sugar alcohol, it has low net carbs zero calories per serving.
By having zero effect on insulin resistance and glucose levels, this zero-carb sweetener is safe for people with diabetes. It also does not have the same digestive issues that can arise with other sugar alcohol and substitutes as erythritol is processed quickly by the body. The sweetness level is on par with standard table sugar, and use it in similar proportions.
Studies show that erythritol may be a better choice for people looking to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Unlike table sugar, there is no increase in triglycerides or other adverse side effects like tooth enamel erosion.
Of all the keto friendly sweeteners, xylitol is the one we use the least for a few reasons. First, this sugar alcohol has 2.4 calories per gram and an appearance similar to standard sugar. With it being a refined sweetener, those are empty calories that provide zero vitamins or minerals. Though by far, our biggest concern is that xylitol is highly toxic to our four-legged friends. A single gram of xylitol is enough to make a 20lb dog gravely ill and require immediate veterinary help. Note that this low carb artificial sweetener is ubiquitous amongst sugar-free chewing gum, so be aware if you decide to have it reach your pets.
Though if pets are not something you have to worry about, Xylitol is a solid low carb sweetener with some health benefits. Studies have linked consumption of it with increased collagen production and increased bone volume. Additionally, it can help improve your digestive health by feeding your friendly gut bacteria and providing soluble fiber. So, if you have the room in your keto macros for the calories and no pets to worry about, this can be a solid choice for a keto safe sweetener.
Xylitol is sugar alcohol extracted from the fibers of plants such as birch and corncobs. It is then generated into crystals during hydrogenation in a process similar to producing corn syrup.
Splenda is a brand name of a popular artificial sweetener called sucralose. Lacking the bitter taste some associate with artificial sweeteners has made Splenda one of the most popular sugar substitutes. However, there is a caveat: Splenda is often packed with dextrose and maltodextrin, both of which contain carbs and calories. Additionally, the body does not metabolize sucralose; this lack of digestion makes it calorie and carbohydrate-free as a sugar substitute.
You will most likely find Splenda as a keto friendly sweetener of all the sugar substitutes while dining out. While Splenda can be substituted at a 1 to 1 ratio in most recipes, we find that the other keto friendly sweeteners work better for our cooking needs. If you find yourself needing to use a sweetener and don’t have other keto-friendly options, it will do the trick, though.
As a whole, Splenda is a good staple keto friendly sweetener because it’s calorie free and gluten free but lacks versatility. Splenda is a low calorie sweetener that tastes similar to sugar but without the associated calories. It also does not upset blood glucose levels. Some studies show that artificial sweeteners may affect insulin levels, leading to the production of the hormone Leptin.
Leptin is vital in maintaining your metabolism by making you feel full and slowing down hunger signals to the brain. A drop in your Leptin levels can lead to an increased appetite and weight gain.
Sweeteners to Avoid on a Keto Diet
The world is rife with natural and artificial sweeteners that will kick you out of ketosis. These can derail your keto diet either by containing a high amount of carbs or increase your blood sugar levels. If you want to stay in ketosis, it is vital to avoid sweeteners like honey.
While not one of the keto sweeteners, honey can have many benefits when eaten and has an all natural sweet taste imparted by the pollen of specific plants it is derived from. Consuming small amounts of honey before bed can help with insomnia because it stimulates the release of tryptophan in the brain that promotes relaxation and sleepiness. Eating honey also helps improve digestive health because it has prebiotic properties. Meaning it provides food for probiotics in your gut which are necessary to maintain a healthy gut flora balance – leading to improved digestion and improved nutrient absorption throughout your body.
Honey has been revered for its healing qualities in cultures from ancient times. Honey is a natural antibiotic; it is a powerful and natural wound dressing because of its high sugar content, low PH, and hydrogen peroxide content. Keep in mind honey has 3 calories per gram and 64 calories per serving.
This naturally derived sweetener comes from the Agave plant native to Mexico and South America. Though it does have a low glycemic index, it is high in fructose and best avoided on a keto diet. Unfortunately, during the processing of agave sap, a high heat process is necessary. Due to this, many of the health benefits present are destroyed.
When it comes to the health benefits of agave nectar, few people know that this sweetener is a mild laxative! It also contains digestive enzymes called fructans.
Agave nectars are often used as substitutes for other sugars and syrups in drinks like coffee or tea because they taste sweeter than most sugar alternatives but have fewer calories. So if you’re looking into cutting down on your calorie intake while still giving yourself an extra boost of sweetness, then think about using some agave syrup instead.
Lastly, like honey, agave contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals like zinc, phosphorus, potassium, sodium pantothenate, or vitamin B-6, which contribute to general good health.
Coconut sugar is a naturally occurring sugar and extracted from the sap of the coconut palm. Many have made a shift to try to incorporate more organic and natural products into their diet. Though be wary of this substitute, it has nearly the same amount of fructose per gram as standard table sugar, even though it has a marginally better nutrient profile.
Coconut sugar is made by tapping the sap from a coconut palm tree and then boiling that liquid to evaporate it down into crystals. Coconut sugar has many essential minerals such as magnesium, manganese potassium, zinc, and iron, necessary for cell health! You can find coconut palm trees in wet regions like Costa Rica, Brazil, Sri Lanka, or India, where they grow naturally.
Maple syrup is a syrup created by cooking and evaporating the sap from maple trees. The sap is a sticky, sweet liquid that flows out of holes in the bark between winter and spring. As one of the oldest foods in the world, it’s been used as a sweetener for centuries as both a food ingredient and traditional medicine. While having the sweetness of sugar and delicious in baked goods, unfortunately, it isn’t friendly to the ketogenic diet.
It is a highly regarded sweetener like sugar, although it can be expensive for high quality products. Maple syrup provides the sweetness of sugar in baked goods but also brings a unique flavor profile.
One of the best things about maple syrup is its low glycemic index, even though it contains sucrose. It also does not affect insulin production and will not lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. While that is a significant benefit for any sweetener, unfortunately, this one is non-friendly to a ketogenic diet.
The Bottom Line on Keto Friendly Sweeteners
We are fortunate that today we have a wide variety of low carb sweeteners to fit individual tastes and preferences. As with most things, it still requires balance, and your diet should be overloaded with sweet treats just because they are low carb. But they can help provide a bridge and provide some relief when the sugar cravings are extra fierce.
The keto sweeteners landscape is vast and varied, with options for every taste and preference. But it is important to remember that just because they are lower in carbs doesn’t mean you should eat tons of them without restraint; balance is still vital when pursuing any diet plan or lifestyle change. So use these keto friendly sweeteners for what they were intended – as a bridge during rough patches or when the sugar cravings hit extra hard – don’t let them become your new daily routine. Whatever your needs may be for keto sweeteners, there’s no shortage of options out there.