The majority of people who follow the Ketogenic diet -- or any low-carb diet -- find that sugar cravings go away eventually. However, this process takes time and it may feel difficult for you to give up sweets right away.
Especially as a beginner on Keto, you are bound to crave sweets every so often. This is completely normal and shouldn’t discourage you!
Luckily, there’s a way to stay low carb while still satisfying your sugar cravings.
In this Keto Beginners Series, we’re going to talk about the best low-carb sweeteners to use on a low-carb diet, and which ones to avoid.
List of Keto-Approved Sweeteners
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t make a habit of using low-carb sweeteners in your diet.
Instead, use them as a tool to help you wean off of sugar until your sugar cravings are gone.
Stevia is one of the most popular zero-carb sweeteners on the market. It’s an herb, also referred to as the “sugar leaf”. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) labels stevia as a non-nutritive sweetener, which means it contains zero calories and nutrients.
Unlike regular sugar, stevia will not increase blood sugar.[*]
Stevia is sold in both powdered and liquid form and can be used on any food or drink to help satisfy your sugar cravings.
We encourage people to get liquid drops whenever possible, because some powdered stevia products may contain artificial sweeteners like maltodextrin or dextrose. If your local grocery store doesn’t have the liquid form, make sure to check the ingredients list for any hidden carbs before buying powdered stevia products.
#2. Monk Fruit Sweetener
Monk fruit sweetener is another great zero-carb sweetener that contains antioxidants known as mogrosides, which are responsible for the sweetness in monk fruit.
In fact, monk fruit sweetener is known to be up to 250 times sweeter than normal sugar. The mogrosides also help release insulin which helps move sugar out of the bloodstream.[*]
Between the antioxidant properties of mogrosides [*] and the zero-calorie content, monk fruit sweetener is one of the best Keto-friendly sweeteners you can select.
(We recommend Lakanto brand)
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that’s just as sweet as sugar and only contains 2.4 calories per gram.
It naturally occurs in the fibers of vegetables and fruits and is most commonly found in food products like sugar-free candy and gum.
Use xylitol sparingly because higher doses have been linked to digestive problems like diarrhea.
Sucralose, which you may know as Splenda, is an artificial sweetener that passes right through your body without getting digested, which means it doesn’t provide any carbohydrates or calories.[*]
Note: Sucralose is not an ideal sugar substitute for baking. It contains some compounds that may release toxins when cooked at high temperatures [*].
Erythritol is another sugar alcohol that has zero calories and does not affect your blood glucose.
The molecular structure of erythritol is lighter, which means it is less likely to cause any digestive issues that are often reported with other sugar alcohols.
Erythritol is best used for cooking and baking, but you may not want to use it to mix in your drinks since it’s harder to dissolve than other sweeteners.
Do NOT Use These Sweeteners on Keto
Now that you know which low-carb sweeteners are Keto-approved, let’s quickly go over some sugar substitutes that are best avoided.
The following sweeteners will spike your blood sugar and put you at risk of falling out of ketosis.
#1. Maltodextrin (13g Carbs per Tablespoon)
Maltodextrin is often found mixed in with low-carb sweeteners. It is highly processed from starchy plants and is best avoided on keto.
#2. Coconut Sugar (15g Carbs per Tablespoon)
Coconut oil and coconut flour are perfectly fine on the Ketogenic diet, but coconut sugar is best avoided. Even though it's absorbed more slowly than regular sugar, it’s still sugar and a small amount can still kick you out of ketosis.
#3. Agave Nectar (18g Carbs per Tablespoon)
This sugar substitute is very high in fructose, which has been implicated in causing inflammation and insulin resistance, as well as increasing triglycerides and small dense LDL.[*]
Stick to Stevia or Monk Fruit Sweetener for Regular Use
Out of all the zero-calorie sweeteners, stevia and monk fruit sweetener have the best health benefits with zero carb content.
When you’re shopping for Keto-friendly sweeteners, it’s extremely important to check the label for any hidden carbs.
And remember, we recommend using these sweeteners as a tool to help wean you off sugar, rather than relying on them for frequent use.
Note: The content in this article is not medical advice and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Always talk to your doctor before changing your diet.