Sugar is the enemy of the keto diet. But as cutting out the sugar isn’t that easy, we can substitute it with sweeteners. Always make smart choices while purchasing, make sure to investigate the ingredients on the packaging. To guide you more, here is a list of the best and worst keto sweeteners. These sugar swaps will help keep your carbs in check, and your sweet tooth satisfied.
BEST KETO SWEETENERS
Stevia is a nonnutritive sweetener made from a plant extract which contains little to no calories or carbs. It is the most keto-compatible sugar substitute available. Stevia is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is considered natural and safe. It keeps your carbs in check and helps to keep blood sugar and insulin low.
Stevia extract is typically available in powdered, granulated, or liquid form. You can use it to sweeten everything from drinks to desserts. While purchasing, make sure to check that the product is 100% stevia and doesn’t contain additional sugars, sugar alcohols, fillers, or artificial flavours.
Dark chocolate has less sugar than many milk chocolate bars. It is considered to be one of the best keto sweeteners as most of the calories come from fat. But always go for the high-quality dark chocolate which is free of unnecessary additives and contains the least amount of net carbs. It should have a minimum of 70% cocoa solids, preferably more. You can add it to your breakfast cereal, baked goods or yoghurt.
Erythritol is an ideal sugar alternative on the ketogenic diet. This zero-calorie sweetener occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods including soy sauce, pears, watermelon, wine, sake and grapes – in small amounts.
Erythritol is keto-friendly as it didn’t affect glucose, insulin, cholesterol, triglycerides, or electrolytes. It has a GI of 0 and 0.2 calories per gram and does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
Monk fruit sweetener is an extract from a protective plant which contains compounds called mogrosides. These mogrosides are 300 times sweeter than sugar but are calorie-free and carb-free. This zero-calorie sweetener has negative effects on blood glucose levels and can help overweight people decrease their total caloric intake.
You can add this sweetener in tea, coffee and smoothie or use it in keto baking. The best part is that it’s free from side effects.
Sucralose, Xylitol, Yacon Syrup are few more to add on this list of best sweeteners.
WORST KETO SWEETENERS
Honey is nutritionally dense but still high in calories and carbs and may not be suitable for a keto diet. One tablespoon of honey typically contains 17g of net carbs- 16 of which come from sugar. It contains zero grams of fat, no dietary fibre, and only a tenth of a gram of protein. Most processed honey also has added sugars and is usually pasteurized, losing most of the nutritional benefits it has.
It comes from the sap of coconut palm tree and is absorbed more slowly than regular sugar. It contains 15 calories per teaspoon and 4 grams of carbs- all of which are from sugar. It’s also high in fructose, which can contribute to impaired blood sugar control. Therefore, coconut sugar is not a keto-friendly sweetener.
Consuming maple syrup is not recommended on a keto diet. It typically has 50 calories and 13.4 grams of carbs in one tablespoon, which is half of the usual daily consumption of carbs for a small amount.
Agave nectar is an incredibly processed product and should be avoided, even in its natural state. It contains up to 80% fructose which has a very high impact on our blood sugar levels and known to cause weight gain and insulin resistance in the long term.
Rice malt syrup, dates, maltodextrin and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) should also be avoided on the keto diet.
By Dr Seema Nanda
Refer to her blog for more updates on Health and Wellness.