What are the best sweeteners for keto? What are the worst sweeteners?
We all know that the best thing we can do is give up sugar! But what are the best sweeteners for keto?
It takes time to get over those sweet cravings. My advice is to cut out the sugars (plural – so many different types of sugar in processed food). Allow yourself time to get over the cravings. Luckily keto is fantastic at helping us to reduce cravings. Once you have been following keto for a while, you should start to feel the cravings diminish. At that point, you can start to introduce occasional keto-friendly treats. Start to introduce keto treats slowly and infrequently. You will likely find that your taste buds have changed. You might find you can’t stand anything overly sweet anymore! That’s a good thing, right?
Keto does not need to be a completely restrictive “diet”. This is a lifestyle change for many people. Enjoying a treat is part of maintaining that lifestyle, long-term. Allowing yourself to indulge now and again will help keep you on track, and keep your new way of eating interesting! Before you start creating keto treats, you need to know which sweeteners are safe and OK to consume on a keto or low-carb diet. And believe me, there are a lot of artificial and natural sweeteners. There’s a multitude of sugar substitutes out there!
Some of the names that sweeteners have can appear quite confusing. Acesulfame, for instance, what does that even mean!? Fortunately, we don’t need to be able to pronounce them to pick them out on the ingredients of your food and drink labels. In this blog, I’m going to talk about the sweeteners which are keto friendly.
Love them or hate sweeteners, they can be an important part of making keto sustainable for life. We can enjoy some of them. We definitely want to avoid others.
Taste your keto-friendly sweeteners!
Personal preference comes into this as well. What tastes nice to one person might taste awful to you! Plus some people struggle with switching from sugar-filled drinks to the diet version. They simply don’t taste the same! And there is no getting away from that.
Taste buds need to adapt, and that can take a little time and perseverance. Certainly getting through that initial transition to sugar-free can be challenging, but worth it! Finding the right keto-friendly sweeteners is key!
Your taste buds will change. What tastes bitter now, can taste sweeter after a month on keto. It takes a couple of weeks for most people to get used to the taste of diet drinks and sugar-free alternatives. So give your taste buds a little time! You might be pleasantly surprised.
Understand the different keto-friendly sweeteners
Understanding the different types of sweeteners – like what are polyols or sugar alcohols – makes it much easier to make better food and drink choices.
Checking ingredients for keto-friendly sweeteners
By understanding the different types, you should be able to navigate your food and drink labels wisely. You should be able to pick the right sweeteners for baking sweet keto treats by yourself too.
There is an abundance of research out there about the various sweeteners widely used in the food industry. Some are good, and some are really bad. Unquestionably, some artificial sweeteners have been linked to all sorts of health issues and we definitely do not want to consume them, certainly not on a regular basis.
It is up to you to decide if you want to include any or none of these in your keto or low-carb lifestyle.
Choose your sweeteners wisely
In the next part, I’m talking about the most common sweeteners used in the UK and European food and drinks industry. Please note that these are sweeteners that I have tested on myself, and I know that these do not spike my blood sugars or kick me out of ketosis.
Likewise, remember that the following is not a definitive list. It is, however, the MOST COMMON names you will probably see listed in the ingredients of various “sugar-free” foods and diet drinks in the UK and European shops. Hence, I do encourage you to investigate a little more about them, especially if you are diabetic (type 1 or 2) and controlling your blood sugars. Some people can have significant insulin reactions to some sweeteners, while others are not affected.
Good v Bad Sweeteners – Keto Friendly, or Not?
In this first section, let’s deal with the “bad” sweeteners. Firstly, the ones you should avoid!
Even if you can’t remember all the names of sweeteners, try and remember these 5. You can’t really go wrong if avoid these.
Some of these are just as bad as sugar itself. That is to say, they can cause a big spike in your insulin levels. They can have a similar effect as sugar. The big problem is that they are added to lots of food labelled as “sugar-free”. It is all very clever marketing to make us believe that we are making healthier choices! If you are wondering why insulin levels are significant on a keto diet, this blog might help you understand.
Bad sugar alternatives
Most of these bad “sweeteners” can have the same effect on your blood sugars, as sugar itself does. In other words, they can kick you out of ketosis. If you are doing a keto or low-carb diet and you’re not necessarily worried about being in ketosis, remember that these can trigger your “fat storage hormone”, insulin! Making it more difficult to lose weight effectively. So you still need to avoid them! They are not very good for your gut health either. (Source 1).
The worst, most common, non-keto-friendly sweeteners:
So, avoid all of the above. Yes, some foods do contain dextrose in tiny quantities. With minimal carbohydrate content in the product overall. This means you’ll need to decide how clean you want your keto diet to be.
By comparison, let’s look at the good guys (but remember, as long you remember the above 4 to avoid, don’t worry too much about remembering all the names of the “good” sweeteners).
The most common good, keto-friendly sweeteners:
Remember, everybody is different and you may or may not get along with all of these sweeteners. It is up to you to try them out and see how you go. Sidenote: None of these spikes my blood sugar or cause any adverse effects. A lot of people do not have any issues. You should test, and find out if they have an effect on you. (Source 2).
These are some of the most common sweeteners and polyols (or sugar alcohols) that you will see in the ingredients of things like “sugar-free” sweets, processed foods, and diet drinks. Obviously, a few are not necessarily the most “healthy” choices, but they can be incorporated into a keto and low-carb lifestyle.
The keto-friendly sweeteners:
Acesulfame K (or Ace-K)
Sucralose (do not confuse it with “sucrose” this is not the same thing!)
With this knowledge, you can go shopping for diet drinks or “sugar-free” sweets, and start baking your own sweet keto treats, with confidence. And you won’t be spoiling any of your great progress on keto!
Be aware that some people can still experience spikes in their insulin levels when consuming sweeteners. It’s up to you to test, and see what you can tolerate.
I would suggest only consuming natural sweeteners like erythritol, allulose, monk-fruit, stevia, and inulin. But of course, you need to test to find out if any sweeteners spike your blood sugars.
If you want to choose the most healthy types of sweetener, I recommend reading this article by Maria Emmerich.
Where to buy keto-friendly sweeteners
Most supermarkets now sell keto-friendly sweeteners – NatVia, PureVia, and Erythritol can all be found on the shelves. Additionally, some can be cheaper when bought online. Shop around and think about how much you think you will be using. Spending a little more on a large bag of keto-friendly sweeteners can be more cost-effective than buying a small supermarket bag. A larger 1kg bag is great if you are going to be making keto bakes and keto treats on a regular basis.
The best keto-friendly sweeteners
If you are looking for a really good sweetener which is healthy then these are the ones I like and stick with:
Erythritol – I use this one from Amazon UK and the 3-bag pack lasts me about 3 months – NKD Living Erythritol Granules
My Top Tip – if a recipe calls for Powdered Erythritol, just use your blender or smoothie maker to blitz your granules to a powder.
Stevia – Word of Warning! Watch out for supermarkets selling cheaper jars of sweeteners that have “Stevia” plastered all over the label in large writing! Most likely it is NOT pure stevia! Always check the ingredients – most of them are a mix of maltodextrin with only about 2% stevia. Seriously! Which is actually worse for you than sugar! Look for pure stevia, granulated, powder, or drops (I like these drops from Amazon – Nick’s Chocolate Stevia Drops)
Monk Fruit – mostly available from health food shops or online. This is one that you will see a lot on American blogs but it isn’t widely available in the UK – Yet!
Sukrin – another favourite for baking. It’s a mix of erythritol and stevia, which a lot of people prefer, rather than plain erythritol Sukrin Natural Sugar Alternative 250g
Different brands, same keto-friendly sweeteners
There are lots of different brands to choose from, especially when you look online for keto sweeteners. They are all pretty much based on the same types – erythritol and stevia. Use this as a guide to choosing the right ones for you, and avoid the wrong ones.
Who said you can’t indulge in treats while following a keto or LCHF diet? Yes, you can! Yes, I do! And yes, I still lost weight! Nearly 5 Stone (70lbs), in fact! (Source 3)
Keto sweet treats!
If you already have your preferred keto-friendly sweetener in the cupboard, why not try this super simple, deliciously guilt-free keto treat? And it only takes a few minutes to prep and cook! Try my version of a Keto Chocolate 90-Second Mug Cake:
- 1 tablespoon melted butter, I prefer salted
- 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon of coconut flour (or 3 tablespoons of ground almonds)
- 2 tablespoons of erythritol (or another keto-friendly sweetener, adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened 100% cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
In an average-sized coffee mug, melt the butter (microwave for 10 seconds). Add the other ingredients and stir very well with a fork. Microwave for 90 seconds (make sure you do not overcook it, so it does not turn out too dry!)
Add some sugar-free choc chips too, or top with some whipped, fresh double cream. Enjoy.