The Best Sweeteners for Keto and Low Carb
Sugar Alternatives for Keto Dieters
The keto diet is such a great way to get rid of those unwanted pounds and reduce inflammation but of course to achieve any kind of success you’ll have to adjust your eating plan and stop sugar.
For one thing, if you continue to eat sugar, your carb count will be so high that you won’t enter into ketosis. And second, we can no longer avoid all the news about just how bad sugar is for inflammation. Read more in this Medical News today article about sugar and inflammation
Bottom line, we can no longer eat desserts that are loaded with carbs and sugar. So we use sugar alternatives and substitutes instead.
But which sweeteners are the best ones for Keto?
The answer is going to depend on what you want to do with the sweetener.
There are plenty of sugar alternatives available that you can use to not only add to your favorite beverages, but to use in baked goods or in making regular meals that call for sugar.
These sugar alternatives come in styles that mimic granulated sugar, powdered and brown sugar and are low in carbs, so you get the sweet taste without risking your state of ketosis.
There are two basic categories of sugar alternatives for keto: artificial sweeteners and natural sweeteners.
All of these sweeteners below are considered to be natural sweeteners and therefore compliant for keto dieters, who are wanting to follow a clean Keto program.
Note: Some people do what it known as ‘Dirty Keto‘, in other words if it fits in your macros then you can use it. You can read more about the different types of Keto here.
The best keto sweetener for general overall use is erythritol. It’s a compound that’s known as sugar alcohol. You can find this type of sweetener naturally. Erythritol is what gives certain vegetables and fruits that sweet flavor.
When you use manufactured erythritol, it works by triggering the sweet taste buds located on the tip of your tongue. Your taste buds can’t tell the difference between the sweetener and regular sugar, so you get the same effect, but without the carbs.
- Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar so you may need to combine it with another sweetener when trying to duplicate the same sweetness as in a conventional recipe
- It has no impact on blood sugar which is why the carbs are not usually counted in recipes
- It does not have the laxative effect that most other sugar alcohols have because virtually none of it is absorbed by the body.
- It tends to crystallize in some recipes especially if heated and then cooled, such as in a custard
Erythritol brands to buy: (Look for 100% erythritol. The ones I listed below are ones I use, there are many others I have not tried)
Xylitol is another naturally occurring sugar alcohol sweetener that is made from birch trees. Xylitol is good for tooth enamel, which is why you find it in packaged sugar free chewing gums and mints.
Xylitol is as sweet as sugar and doesn’t crystallize like erythritol so it’s also good for keto baking.
But in spite of these good qualities which should make it a good sweetener for keto, I can’t get excited about it for these reasons:
- It’s higher on the glycemic index than erythritol (although not a lot).
- Xylitol is partially metabolized by the body and therefore can cause gastro and tummy issues in a small percentage of people who use it. (I’m one of them!)
- It is highly toxic to dogs and this disqualifies it from being in my house!
Which one to buy: Organic Xylitol
3. Monk Fruit
Monk fruit (also known as lo han guo) is derived from a fruit that comes from Asia and is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. Yet, it doesn’t contain any calories.
- Because monk fruit is so much sweeter than sugar, you cannot really use it for baking because it doesn’t have the volume you need for a baked good.
- This is why you will often find monk fruit combined with erythritol in the stores.
- Be sure to always check those ingredients because I have also seen it combined with things like dextrose. It defeats the entire purpose of using a sugar substitute for keto!
Safe monk fruit brands to buy: (Remember to check ingredients!)
- Pure Monkfruit Extract (1/32 tsp = 2 tsp sugar, so not for baking!)
- Lakanto monkfruit blend
- SoNourished monkfruit sweetener (also a blend of Erythritol and monkfruit)
Although stevia is also a naturally occurring sweetener and I used it a lot in my early days of keto and low carb, I use it less and less now.
- Like monkfruit, it is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and so it’s a challenge to use it in baking.
- I find it is best to use in liquid form when you need a couple quick drops to make something sweeter without adding bulk.
- And then there is that Stevia aftertaste. Once Swerve came out and it didn’t have an aftertaste, I have to admit that I wandered away from Stevia except for some flavored liquid drops that I still have and a brown sugar substitute that I really like.
- All that said, some of the best sugar free baking products are made with Stevia such as chocolate chips and coffee syrups (see list below)
Which Stevia to buy:
- Sweetleaf Stevia liquid drops
- Pyure Organic Stevia Blend (a blend of Erythritol and Stevia so can be used for baking)
- Sukrin Gold Brown Sugar (Erythritol and Stevia blend that is a very good brown sugar replacement!)
- Lily’s Chocolate Chips
- Jordon’s Stevia Coffee Syrups (use for baking too!)
This is a fairly new, also natural, sweetener on the market and I just got my first bag recently! Allulose is found in dried fruits.
- Like erythritol it is about 70% as sweet as sugar. But where I love it is for those recipes that are at risk of crystallizing, such as a baked custard.
- Because it is partially digested, it can cause digestive issues for some so be careful to not consume in large quantities.
- I only use it in recipes where the serving size is small and where I don’t want to see that crystallization effect.
- It’s still rather hard to find and more expensive than other sweeteners, so buy and use only as needed
Allulose to buy:
The Best Keto Sweeteners that I use myself :
In summary, here are the best sweeteners for keto that I keep in my own pantry:
- Swerve granulated (for general baking and everyday use)
- So Nourished confectioner sweetener (for icing and recipes that need a fine powdered sugar)
- Sukrin Gold Brown Sugar (because sometimes you need brown sugar!)
- Hoosier Hill Allulose (for custards and other recipes that are heated and then cooled)
Sweeteners to Use Sparingly or Avoid for Keto Dieters
Ok, I am not the Keto Police and I even have recipes on this site that have used some of these sweeteners, sometimes because another just wasn’t available and sometimes I just didn’t know any better. I learn new things as we go here as well!
So try to use these sparingly and get yourself migrated over to the natural sweeteners we have already talked about.
- Any sweeteners that end with ‘ose’ like fructose are really a form of sugar
- Any sweeteners that end in ‘tol’ (except the ones in the good for keto section above)
- Sweeteners that are in small packets. Even the good sweeteners are sometimes put in packets with dextrose, making them a bad sweetener for you.