Let us face it; following a keto diet does not mean your sweet tooth goes away. So, you may always find yourself craving something sweet to satisfy your taste buds. But determining what are the keto-friendly sweeteners can be challenging, especially if you do not know of any low-carb sugar alternatives. Today you can discover some keto sugar substitute ideas to help you maintain a keto lifestyle while enjoying a sweet tooth. Check it out!
How Much Sugar Is OK On Keto?
The keto diet is a very low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet. Because of this, you basically have to cut sugar from your diet to stay within or under the carb limit. But you may wonder how you will cope if you have a sweet tooth.
Worry not because there are several sugar alternatives that you can add to your keto diet and still get as much sweetness. Be cautious and consume them in moderation as they all have several potential risks or side effects, as we will see. These substitutes include:
Stevia, also known as Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, is one of the sweeteners you can use instead of sugar when on keto. It is a bushy shrub that is native to North and South America. You can purchase the plant at most garden centers, as it has become very popular.
You should consider using stevia over table sugar when on keto for several reasons. For one, it has no sugar or carbohydrates and very few calories, if any (8). Secondly, Medical News Today acknowledges that it is 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar (8). A very small amount of this keto sugar substitute should satisfy your sweet cravings if you have a sweet tooth.
More so, using stevia has been suggested to have other possible health benefits, some of which include (8):
- Diabetes Management. Stevia has been shown not to affect insulin or blood glucose, making it an excellent addition to a diabetes meal plan (8).
- Anti- Pancreatic Cancer action. Stevia contains several antioxidant compounds like kaempferol, which has been seen in test tube studies to inhibit pancreatic cancer cell growth and migration. We don’t yet know what this means in regards to kaempferol in our diet and risk of pancreatic cancer, but it is a promising area for further research.
- Reduced Blood Pressure. Stevia may have cardiotonic actions that help regulate the heartbeat and normalize blood pressure.
- Weight Control. Evidence and common sense suggests that stevia can be used for weight management due to its low sugar and calorie counts (8). But remember for long-term weight loss you must make several lifestyle changes that allow you to keep the weight off for the long haul. Some of these include adopting good sleeping habits, exercising, managing stress levels, and practicing mindful eating and portion control.
- Convenient for a Child’s Diet. Medical News Today claims that stevia can be an excellent addition to a child’s diet to help reduce the sugar and calories they consume (8). It is thought to help children satisfy their sweet tooth while transitioning to a lower sugar diet (8).
Stevia is generally considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration and has been marked as free of side effects (8). But some people have reported bloating and nausea, so be cautious when using stevia (6). Start with a small amount and see how you tolerate it. Similarly, pay attention to your blood pressure levels, for some studies show stevia has the possibility of lowering your blood pressure to dangerous levels, especially if you already have low blood pressure (6).
Keto Brown Sugar
The other best sugar substitute for keto is brown sugar. Brown sugar is a natural sweetener prepared by taking sugar juice out of sugar cane plants or sugar beet (2). It is prepared by mixing white sugar with molasses to enhance the flavor and the nutritional content (2). You can make your own keto-friendly version at home.
But for keto brown sugar, you need to be cautious with the ingredients as you do not want to exceed the carb count. Because white sugar is high in carb count, it may not be an ideal ingredient to use. So what do you use? Here are some recipes you can use to make keto-approved brown sugar that tastes and feels like brown sugar:
Recipe 1 (3)
In this recipe, you only need two ingredients! Oh, and get this, you do not need molasses. Check out the recipe to see the molasses substitute you need and the steps to take to get homemade low-carb, gluten-free keto-friendly brown sugar.
- 1 Cup (200 g) Crystalized sugar sweetener
- 1 tbsp. Yacon Syrup
- Gather these two Ingredients as needed to make homemade sugar-free brown sugar.
- Add the cup of crystallized sweetener into a mixing bowl, then the tablespoon of Yacon Syrup on top.
- Mix the two using a spatula until you see every single crystal being covered and brown.
Nutritional Content (3):
The nutritional information of serving size (quarter a cup) is as follows:
- Calories: 5
- Total fat: 0 g
- Total carbs: 2 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
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Recipe 2 (4)
Are you looking for a sweetener to use when baking keto muffins? If so, this recipe helps you prepare keto-friendly sugar that adds the sweetness flavor you need in your muffins. The recipe:
- 1/2 cup of erythritol
- 1/2 cup of allulose
- 1 tbsp. molasses
- Mix the allulose and erythritol in the bowl of a stand mixer. Then, drizzle the molasses over the top of the mixture.
- Start by mixing when the mixer is on low speed, then gradually move up to high speed. Continue mixing until you have no molasses clumps and the texture of the mixture is fluffy.
- Transfer the sugar to an airtight or sealable container or glass jar.
Nutritional Content (4):
The recipe yields one serving, which provides:
- Calories: 4
- Total carbs: 1 g
- Total fat: 1 g
Allulose is one of the artificial sweeteners that is keto-approved. It is a rare sugar found naturally in fruits such as raisins and figs (1). It is said to be roughly 70% as sweet as sugar, meaning you do not miss out if you have a sweet tooth (1).
Allulose is a monosaccharide, with 90% fewer calories than sucrose (1). It is considered safe to use but in moderation. Consuming large quantities of Allulose may cause gastrointestinal discomfort like bloating (1). For that reason, use only small amounts, especially for a start, until you determine your tolerance level to such artificial sweeteners.
Erythritol occurs naturally in some foods and fruits. However, it can also be found in fermented foods, such as beer, wine, and cheese (7). The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of erythritol as a food additive in America in 2001 (7).
So, people often use it as a sugar substitute. Additionally, manufacturers add its industrially fermented version to sugar-free and low-sugar foods and drinks (7). While sugar contains 4 calories per gram, erythritol has been shown to contain zero (7).
The theory is that your small intestine absorbs it quickly, so your body excretes it through urine within 24 hours. As a result, erythritol stands no chance of “metabolism” or turning into energy in your body (7). This makes it perfect for individuals following a keto diet.
Additionally, erythritol is an excellent sugar alternative for people following a diabetes meal plan. That is because it does not affect glucose or insulin levels (7). Unfortunately, there are no guidelines detailing how much erythritol you should consume. But WebMD recommends consuming up to 1 gram for every kilo of your body weight (7).
Monk fruit is another alternative sweetener to sugar. This fruit has compounds known as mogrosides that are 150 to 200 times as sweet as sugar (9). That means you are not missing out on the sweetness when you use monk fruit sweetener instead of table sugar.
But one thing you certainly are doing is cutting down on the carb and calories you consume. Unlike table sugar, monk fruit sweetener has been shown to contain no carbs or calories (9). That makes it a perfect keto sugar alternative because it keeps you under the carb limit. People with diabetes can also consume this sweetener because it has been shown not to affect blood sugar levels (9).
Sucralose is another artificial sweetener that is recommended when following a keto diet. But most people often stay away from it due to the belief that it has a bitter taste. According to Medical News Today, sucralose has a sweet taste and is even 200 to 700 times sweeter than table sugar (5).
Unlike table sugar, sucralose is considered a non-nutritive sweetener, meaning it has little to no calories (5). This is good news for people on keto because the idea is usually to limit overall calories, particularly those from carbohydrates.
Medical News Today reveals sucralose is also a suitable keto sugar alternative in baked goods because it is heat stable (5). This means that you can use sucralose to make keto muffins. However, be warned that some studies indicate that exposing sucralose to high temperatures during baking can release toxic compounds. It would be best to consult a dietitian in this case for better and more insight and guidance.
Xylitol is another sugar substitute for people on keto. It is identified as a sugar alcohol (5). According to older studies, xylitol is often used in sugar-free mints and gum because it may positively impact oral hygiene.
If you are worried about its taste, you will be happy to know it has a sweet taste. Medical News Today acknowledges that it looks and tastes like table sugar. However, the only difference is that, unlike table sugar, xylitol has no carbohydrates, which explains why it is keto-friendly (5).
But unlike natural sweeteners, you are urged to consume xylitol in moderation. That is because consuming excessive amounts of this sweetener can cause stomach discomfort and laxative effects (5).
Also, note that even in small amounts, xylitol is toxic to dogs (5). Please consult for better insight on the safe limits of this substance.
Sweeteners To Avoid When On Keto
Sometimes, you may come across another sweetener and may be interested in adding it to your keto diet plan. But the problem is determining whether it is keto-approved or not. So let us save you this dilemma by listing some of the sweeteners you should avoid when on keto:
Unfortunately, honey is a no go on keto. Although it is sometimes touted as a healthier alternative to table sugar, it has a high amount of carbohydrates and calories (5). Because of the high carb and calorie count, honey is not approved when following a keto diet.
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Maple syrup is another natural sweetener you should avoid when following a keto diet. That is because of its high sugar and carbohydrate counts (5).
Coconut sugar is prepared using coconut palm sap. Because it is not processed like table sugar, coconut sugar retains some natural minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber (5). But like table sugar, it has just as many carbohydrates, making it unfit when on keto (5).
Although agave nectar is considered a natural sweetener, it is about 85% fructose. As you may have guessed, this makes it unsuitable for a keto diet (5). Evidence also links a high fructose diet to increased obesity and type 2 diabetes risks (5).
Maltodextrin is not approved for keto because it contains the same number of carbohydrates as table sugar (5). Nevertheless, this sweetener has been suggested to have less impact on oral hygiene than table sugar (5).
You may have come across several recipes or individuals that use dates as a sweetener. It is common because of their natural sweetness. On top of that, dates are often used due to their exceptional nutritional profile. They have been found to provide decent amounts of protein and minerals like potassium (5).
But unfortunately, they are not ideal for people on a keto diet because of their high carb content. For example, Medical News Today acknowledges a 100 g serving of dates contains 75 g of carbs, capable of kicking you out of ketosis (5).
The Bottom Line
You must follow a very low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet when on keto. It means that you have to cut out sugar to stay within the low-carb limit. That automatically excludes table sugar from the diet.
Do not worry if you have a sweet tooth because you can still choose a keto sugar substitute to satisfy your sweet tooth. Some substitutes for keto sugar are stevia, monk fruit, keto brown sugar, xylitol, erythritol, and sucralose. Avoid sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, maltodextrin, dates, coconut sugar, and agave nectar because they are unsuitable for a keto diet.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Allulose: What to Know About This Sugar Alternative (2021, webmd.com)
- Brown Sugar: Are There Health Benefits? (2020, webmd.com)
- How To Make Keto Brown Sugar (2021, lowcarb-nocarb.com)
- KETO BROWN SUGAR (2021, thebigmansworld.com)
- What are some of the best keto-friendly natural and artificial sweeteners? (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Are the Negative Effects of Stevia? (2021, medicinenet.com)
- What Is Erythritol? (2020, webmd.com)
- What is stevia? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to know about natural sweeteners (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)