Want to make some sweet treats, but not sure what to use to replace sugar? Check out the best keto sweetener (my opinion) below!
Can I tell you a secret? I have a weakness for cookies. Chocolate chip cookies, to be specific.
When I started following the ketogenic diet, I was (mostly) ok with not having pasta and potatoes and bread and candy. But I really wasn’t looking forward to giving up my cookies!
Unfortunately, it combined two big no-nos on the keto diet – carbs, and sugar.
Luckily it didn’t take me long to find out that there were different substitutes for wheat flour that were keto-friendly but I also found out that there were keto sugar substitutes, too.
I knew about things like Sweet ‘n Low, but I didn’t know there were products for baking, too!
There are many sugar substitutes available. Not all of them are keto-friendly. Not all of them are even healthy.
In this post I’m going to share with you the most common types of keto sweeteners you’ll come across (within these three groups), which are the best for you to choose, as well as which sugar substitutes to avoid entirely.
But first – it doesn’t help using keto sugar substitutes if you are still unknowingly eating sugar…
Hidden Sources Of Sugar To Avoid
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a sauce in the store, turned it around to read the ingredients, only to spot sugar on the list!
Sugar pops up in all sorts of prepared foods. You’ll need to get really good at reading labels, to make sure you’re not getting kicked out ketosis without even being aware of it.
1. Sauces, Salad Dressings, Condiments
I once went through every single jar of mayonnaise at the store, reading all the labels. Every. Single. One.
They all had sugar.
You’ll find sugar in salad dressings, condiments like ketchup and mayo, and prepared sauces.
You will probably be able to find sugar-free mayonnaise and ketchup (and mustard is almost always sugar-free). But you’re going to be better off preparing your own salad dressings and sauces from scratch.
When you’re at a restaurant, it is even more difficult to know if there are hidden sugars in your meal. Try to avoid meals with sauces and basting, and skip the dressing. You can go with a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or bring in your own in a small bottle.
2. Sides and Soups
Either prepared or at a restaurant, be careful of sides and soups. You might think that these would be great low-carb options, but you never know what is hiding in the ingredients list.
Rather stick with steamed or grilled veggies, with a little butter on top.
3. Flavored Coffees
You may think that an iced latte is just that – a latte blended with ice.
But unfortunately, it often comes with a few pumps of very sweet syrup, too.
When you order, request that it be made without the syrup. Or, you can make your own healthy iced coffee drinks at home.
Sugar Substitutes Are Not All The Same
‘Sugar substitute’ can be a bit of a sneaky phrase.
Just because something is a substitute for sugar, does not automatically mean that it is healthy, or that it won’t raise your blood sugar.
Honey is a ‘sugar substitute’, but it is still high in calories and carbs, which makes it unsuitable on the keto diet.
When you are looking for a suitable keto sugar substitute, you need to ensure that it will not kick you out of ketosis.
Types Of Sweeteners On The Keto Diet
Sweeteners can be classified into three main groups:
- Natural Sweeteners
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Sugar Alcohols
Almost all sweeteners and keto sugar substitutes you will come across will fall into one of these three categories.
Whichever sweetener you choose to go with, read the ingredients on the packaging carefully. Look for fillers that are unnecessary or will increase blood sugar (such as dextrose, polydextrose, and maltodextrin), and avoid those in particular.
Instead, you should go for products that are just pure sweetener.
What To Look For In A Keto Sweetener
When you are looking for the ideal keto sweetener to add to your idea, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
The best keto sweetener:
- It contains no calories or net carbs (including hidden sources of net carbs).
- Has no effect (or alternatively, a positive effect), on your insulin levels, blood sugar, and other biomarkers
- such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
- Causes no side effect at reasonable doses (i.e. not eating the whole tray of brownies!).
- Has been found safe to use at reasonable doses.
- No false and unfounded marketing claims.
You can use this guideline when you are deciding if a new product is healthy for you.
Best Natural Sweeteners for Keto
Natural sweeteners are made from concentrated components of edible plants.
Stevia is one of the best-known natural sweeteners. Steviol glycosides are found in the leaves of the stevia plant. These compounds are removed and concentrated, and you end up with a natural sweetener that is 200-350 times sweeter than sugar (without the calories and carbs).
Monk fruit is another natural sweetener that is an excellent replacement for sugar. It is very new in terms of being used as a keto sugar substitute but has been used for decades as a medicinal fruit in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Both stevia and monk fruit can have a bitter aftertaste, so they are best used combined with other keto-friendly sugar substitutes to better emulate sugar’s flavor and properties.
Other natural sweeteners that are suitable for keto include:
Best Sugar Alcohol Sweeteners for Keto
The concept of ‘sugar alcohols’ can be a bit confusing.
Sugar alcohols are hybrids of sugar molecules, and alcohol molecules and the name refers to the category of chemical compounds. (And don’t worry – sugar alcohols will not get you drunk – it is the alcohol molecule ethanol that causes intoxication.)
Sugar alcohols have a similar structure to sugar, and they contain calories and net carbs (unlike most natural and artificial sweeteners).
Erythritol, xylitol, and maltitol are three common sugar alcohols.
Not everyone tolerates erythritol well, so test it out in small amounts. It also has a ‘cooling’ effect on the tongue, which many find unpleasant. Look for blends with erythritol and stevia blends, or erythritol and monk fruit.
Xylitol is a very popular sugar replacement and comes with the added benefit of having a significant positive impact on dental health.
However, it is more likely than erythritol to cause stomach discomfort, and it is toxic to many different animals. Even small doses can be lethal to dogs and cats.
For this reason, I would recommend choosing erythritol (and erythritol blends) over xylitol.
Malitol is commonly found in packaged foods. It bakes and tastes very much like sugar, with half the calories, but it still has a large glycemic index. Many products don’t even include the carb count from the maltitol.
This means that you could be consuming what you think are ‘low-carb’ foods but end up consuming more sugars than you realize.
Should You Use Artificial Sweeteners on Keto?
Artificial – or synthetic – sweeteners are produced using synthetic methods. The most commonly known artificial sweeteners are sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame.
There is a lot of speculation when it comes to artificial sweeteners, about how dangerous and unhealthy they are.
But the reality is that studies have not been able to conclusively prove that they are detrimental – or even beneficial – for our health.
In comparison – natural sweeteners and sugar alcohols have been found to have positive health effects.
It makes sense, then, to just avoid the artificial sweeteners and replace them with stevia extract, monk fruit extract, and erythritol.
Still Not Sure Which Keto Sweetener To Use
“Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener is the only zero-calorie, zero-glycemic sweetener that is just like sugar. It is made from monk fruit which was used for centuries in eastern traditional herbalism to increase chi and well-being, earning it the nickname “The Immortals’ Fruit”.
We still grow and harvest monk fruit for Lakanto in the same pristine area and according to traditional and environmental methods.”
Their Classic Monkfruit 1:1 Sugar Substitute is a monk fruit/erythritol blend, and is perfect for baking!
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