Can you actually use any type of sweetener in ketogenic diet? Perhaps, if you make smart choices. This guide will help you chose the best keto sweeteners.
If you’re on a keto diet, you know that you have to cut back on high-carb foods like processed foods, bread, starches, desserts, and so on.
After a while, your body reaches a metabolic state called ketosis and your body starts to break down fat stores instead of carbs to produce energy.
But you must avoid sugar in order to reach ketosis, which makes it difficult when you want to bake some sweets, or sweeten beverages.
All sweeteners have potential for negative impacts if consumed in high quantities. But if you’re on a keto diet and you want to use a sweetener, there are certainly some good keto sweeteners that you can enjoy.
Here are the 3 choices of the keto sweeteners that may do the least harm.
3 Best Keto Sweeteners
Stevia is derived from the leaves of the South American plant Stevia rebaudiana.
It’s a natural sweetener and it contains little to no calories or carbs. It’s much sweeter than regular sugar, so recipes require less stevia to achieve the same flavour as if you were to use the sugar.
The benefits of using stevia:
- No sugar, low carb
- Lowers blood sugar level
Disadvantages of using stevia:
- Bitter taste
- While it is sweet, it doesn’t taste like sugar
- Cannot be simply swapped into existing recipes
TIP: For each cup (200 grams) of sugar, substitute only 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of powdered stevia.
Monk fruit, also called luo han guo, is a natural sweetener extracted from the monk fruit, a plant native to southern China and is a relatively new sugar substitute on the market.
It contains natural sugars and compounds called mogrosides, which are antioxidants and are about 200 times as strong as sugar.
Monk fruit extract contains no calories and no carbs, making it a great option for a keto diet.
When you buy the monk fruit, make sure you check the ingredients label, as monk fruit extract is sometimes mixed with sugar, molasses or other sweeteners that can alter the total calorie and carb content.
Monk fruit sweetener can be used anywhere you would use regular sugar.
The amount you use can vary between different brands based on what other ingredients are included.
Benefits of using monk fruit:
- It is less bitter than stevia
- It doesn’t cause digestive upset
- It does not raise blood sugar or insulin level
Disadvantages of using monk fruit:
- It’s difficult to find pure monk fruit in stores and is expensive
- It is often mixed with other ingredients, like stevia, erythritol or undeclared ingredients.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in small quantities in fruits and fungi like grapes, melons and mushrooms. It is only partially absorbed and digested by the intestinal tract, which can cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some people.
It’s up to 80% as sweet as regular sugar, it contains only 5% of the calories at just 0.2 calories per gram.
Erythritol is used in both baking and cooking and can be substituted for sugar in a wide variety of recipes.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t have the same mouthfeel as sugar – it has a cooling sensation on the tongue, which can leave foods with a slightly gritty texture.
TIP: For best results, swap about 1 1/3 cups (267 grams) of erythritol for each cup (200 grams) of sugar.
Benefits of using erythritol:
- Its active compound passes into the urine without being used by the body
- As it is in granulated form it’s easy to use it to replace real sugar in recipes
- It may prevent dental plaque and cavities compared to other sweeteners
Disadvantages of using erythritol:
- It doesn’t have the same mouthfeel as sugar – it has a cooling sensation in mouth
- It can cause bloating and diarrhea in some people
3 Worst Keto Sweeteners
Maltodextrin is highly processed sweetener, which is produced from starchy plants like rice, corn or wheat and contains the same amount of calories and carbs as regular sugar.
If you are on keto diet, or have diabetes and are insulin resistant, you should avoid this sweetener.
According to a study performed in 2012, maltodextrin can change your gut bacteria composition in a way that makes you more inclined to developing diabetes. It can slow down the growth of probiotics in your digestive system, which are important for immune system function.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you want to avoid maltodextrin. It contains carbohydrates with no nutritional value, and it causes an increase in blood sugar.
Aspartame is an artificial non-saccharide sweetener, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Unfortunately, it is commonly used as a sugar substitute in foods and beverages as well as in many low carb products.
Research is ongoing to confirm that aspartame is harmful and causes some health issues like dizziness, headache, multiple sclerosis, depression, cancer, etc. Some research claims there are negative links to using aspartame, but there are still inconsistent outcomes in studies.
If you’re trying to lose weight, have diabetes, you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have health conditions like phenylketonuria, tardive dyskinesia, or other above mentioned issues, avoid using aspartame.
Saccharin is an artificial sweetener made in a laboratory by oxidizing the chemicals and has no food energy. It is about 300–400 times as sweet as sugar but has a bitter or metallic aftertaste.
Saccharin is unstable when heated but does not react chemically with other food ingredients, which makes it good for storage.
Even though it is a calorie-free sweetener, several recent studies have found that saccharin actually raises blood glucose levels.
Saccharin belongs to a class of compounds known as sulfonamides, which can cause allergic reactions in some people, such as headache, skin problems, diarrhea, or breathing difficulties.
Putting it all together
Just because you are on the keto or low carb diet doesn’t mean you have to give up sweets completely. There are many low-carb sweeteners you can incorporate into your diet whenever you want to make a sweet treat.
The three sweeteners that I have found to be best for keto are stevia, monk fruit and erythritol. Each one is safe and can be blended together for better flavour.
Other low-carb sweetener options worth mentioning are xylitol, allulose, and tagatose. Each one can be used on keto, but it may be best to use them sparingly. All other sweeteners, from aspartame to saccharin, are best avoided.