What are the best and worst keto sweeteners for a low carb diet?
Are you confused about sugar alternatives on the keto diet? Do you have a fear in the back of your mind, that the oh so good alternatives aren’t completely healthy? Will they kick you out of ketosis? Will they promote weight gain? Are they all created the same? What is the best sweetener for keto?
Unfortunately, marketing companies have made it seem like you can eat all the artificial sweetener and still lose weight, and promote they have health benefits such as to suppress hunger. This has not been scientifically proven however and leads to mass confusion.
Artificial sweeteners are in your supplements, medication, sunscreen, chewing gum, toothpaste, and even your mouthwash! Although these may seem to be keto friendly, they can have an anti-ketogenic effect and hinder you weight loss success. They are also not good for your health… With all these risks, why even us them when starting the keto diet?
Speaking from experience, the time that I lose the most weight is when I cut out all sweeteners and artificial sweeteners.
This may seem extreme but is worth it! I feet better, my skin was more vibrant, and my cravings went away! There was a richness to chocolate, and I understood the concept of different notes in food! Never did I realize. A whole new world of taste was opened to me.
If you ever do find yourself eating a pre-sweetened dessert ( after you have been adapted the keto lifestyle) you will find that it’s way to sweet, and tastes pretty awful..
Read here about the best tasting chocolate ( yes, it is dark.. but you might just enjoy it more on the keto diet…)
Cons of Artificial Sweeteners on a Low Carb Diet
- Promote Cravings and Addiction – This sounds a little extreme, but sugar addiction is real! It also won’t stop when you switch to artificial sweeteners. I have definitely been guilty of eating a dozen of sugar-free cookies…thinkin’ that it was “ safe”….
- May disrupt Gut Flora– Gut bacteria cannot break down sugar free sweeteners. This provides the benefit of being no calorie, however this also disrupts normal gut populations. One study showed that Splenda altered gene expression, caused weight gain, and disrupted microbiome. The studies are still limited, but why risk it?
- Overeating- Yup, artificial sweeteners do not fill you up. It causes me to eat more! This is not based on scientific studies, just my personal experience.
- Continued Bad Habits– Replacing a habit of munching out on cookies with sugar free cookies, does not help you at all! Trust me, I had this pattern of many years, and thought I was following a low carb diet! I also wondered why I wasn’t losing weight like I did when I first started ( and didn’t eat low carb processed foods) ….
It’s not all bad though ..
Some proven benefits of artificial sweeteners include:
- Reduced Calories
- No tooth decay
Again, this sounds extreme, however it is worth it. After you find out how great you feel, and the mental clarity you have you will never want to go back to old eating habits. It will then no longer seem extreme!
However, if you do decide to eat the occasional artificial sweetener below are the best keto friendly sweeteners based on how they interact with your body.
Remember though… even these sweeteners can kick you out of ketosis and stall weight loss! They interact with everyone’s bodies different, and you will have to assess if they are right for you.
Personally, I find the only time I actually do lose weight is when I kick the habit of ANY sweeteners altogether. If you have a lot of weight to lose, I strongly suggest going cold turkey for awhile…
Best Keto Sweeteners
Xylitol is an sugar substitute commonly found in sugarless gum and toothpaste and has been said to help prevent cavities.
In small doses it is fine, however if you eat an entire pack of gum ( Yes, I am guilty of this) in a day, it will raise your insulin.
This is because Xylitol has a low glycemic index of 13, and only 50% is absorbed by your small intestine. Some people may even experience being kicked out of ketosis completely.
Stevia comes from the stevia leave which is related to the sunflower family. When I lived abroad, I often would make tea from the leaves. However, in America the commercialization the stevia leaf has been outlawed. What is legal is the refined extract ( weird much?). China is the leading grower and producer and the process includes more than 40 steps.
- Calorie Free
- Does not Raise Blood Sugar
- Low Toxicity
- Sweet, but tastes vastly different that sugar
- Terrible after taste
- Does not cook like sugar
Choosing Stevia: When choosing Stevia make sure to look at the ingredient list, not just the nutritional label. Often times, Stevia is mixed with fillers such as dextrose, which can raise your insulin.
This is created from cornstarch or fermented corn. It is considered a sugar alcohol and is only partially absorbed and digested by the intestinal tract. For some people ( myself included) it can cause some serious stomach issues.
- No calories or carbs
- Passes into urine without being used by the body
- Easy to replace real sugar
- May prevent cavities!
- Doesn’t taste like sugar ( Duh!)
- Can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea
- May harm kidneys ( though no studies have proved this, it could be a long term consequence)
It’s not as sweet as sugar, coming in at 70%.
Monk fruit is a little bit more expensive than the other alternatives but may be your best option. It’s relatively new on the market, and monk fruit is generally used in herbal teas, soups, and broths in Asian medicine.
It’s 250 times sweeter than sugar, but it is not been ruled as safe ( apparently, neither are stevia leaves though…)
Some pros to Monk Fruit are…
- Better taste profile with less bitterness
- Mixed with stevia and sometimes erythritol to offset costs
- No intestinal issues are caused (Thank goodness!)
Read here to learn about the keto sweeteners you need to avoid! You may be unknowingly consuming these sweeteners, slowing down your weight loss.
Also, to get a challenge that will help you form better eating habits that are sustainable long term ..you can find it here.
Truvia is my favorite artificial sweetener. It’s as sweet as sugar but without the insulin raising affects of sugar. It’s technically a blend of stevia leaf extract, Erythritol, and natural flavors. The stevia leaf extract is from the highest purity, and the natural flavors are like the pepper or salt.
Many people who have migraines find that Truvia does not cause headaches. It’s not as good sweet as aspartame, but also does not leave a after taste.
Serve claims to be the ultimate sugar replacement. It’s a bold claim, and with the raving reviews it looks like they live up to their expectations. Swerve is perfect to replace confectioners sugar. There is no bitter aftertaste, measures like sugar, has zero net carbs, and is non-GMO verified.
The secret to Swerve’s zero-calorie sweetness is a combination of erythritol and oligosaccharidesligosaccharides are sweet, non-digestible carbohydrates sourced from select fruits and starchy root vegetables.
The key benefits are is that Swerve browns and caramelizes, is ketogenic friendly, and measures just like sugar. The key cons are it’s pricey, has a cooling affect, and it may upset your stomach and cause laxative issues.
I personally don’t like liquid stevia extract, but I know many of you reading this will like liquid stevia extract therefore I decided to include the low-carb artificial sweetener.
The Best Keto Artificial Conclusion:
There you have it. The best artificial sweeteners that will not kick you out of ketosis. Each brand of artificial sweeteners has different best use cases.
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