In today’s post you will learn how to sweeten up your life during the keto diet; I am going to talk about the best keto-friendly alternatives to sugar.
Most people who start the keto diet find they crave sugar in the beginning. Even a seasoned low-carb dieter would tell you that they sometimes have sugar cravings.
Luckily, there are keto-friendly sweeteners that can satisfy your craving for sweets without taking you out of ketosis or stopping fat loss.
As with most “low-carb” products, you need to pay attention to the ingredients in the sweeteners. Even if a product is categorized as “sugar-free” or “carbohydrate-free”, it may still contain enough carbs and calories to slow down the process of the ketogenic diet, or even stop ketosis all together. This is the reason we should consider all carbohydrates when tracking our macros.
There are natural and artificial sweeteners. In this post, I will be talking about the natural alternatives to sugar.
The best natural sweeteners as alternatives to sugar in a keto diet are:
- Luo Han Guo (Monk’s plant)
Honey and maple syrup, although natural and with a lower glycemic index than sugar, are best avoided because they are actually high in carbohydrates and increase blood sugar.
Let’s take a deeper look at the best natural alternatives to sugar:
Stevia is one of the most popular sweeteners in the world. It is extracted from a plant called Stevia rebaudiana and is 100 to 300 times sweeter than sugar (the exact value is still controversial). But one thing is clear: It is very, very sweet. So, if you use pure stevia extract, you really only need a small amount of it to sweeten the coffee of dessert you are making. To be sure, start with less and add more as needed.
The active ingredients in Stevia are called steviol glycosides. They are head and pH stable, which means it easily can be used to bake or sweeten coffee or tee.
Stevia contains no carbs, no calories, and has a glycemic index of 0, which means it does not increase blood sugar. This makes it an ideal alternative sweetener to sugar for a low-carb diet, such as what’s needed in the keto diet.
There have been a number of studies on Stevia and it is deemed completely safe for human use. In low doses, it may even have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and organ protective properties.
At higher concentrates, Stevia may have a slightly bitter aftertaste which is unpleasant to some people. To avoid this, you can simply mix Stevia with another sweetener, such as erythritol.
Stevia is sold in powder and liquid form. When purchasing, always check the label to verify that you are buying pure extract, and not a mixture (which may contain artificial sweeteners, containing carbs and/or calories).
Erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol and is widely used as a sugar substitute.
What is a sugar alcohol? It’s like it sounds–a hybrid of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules. Though the name contains “alcohol”, sugar alcohols actually do not contain ethanol, which is what makes you drunk.
Unlike Stevia, it is less sweet than sugar. It has a glycemic index of 1 and contains only 6% of the calories of sugar.
Erythritol is a very good alternative to sugar for making desserts because it has the same consistency and volume as sugar.
Some people find that erythritol has a slight cooling effect and can be unpleasant. To make up for this, you can mix it with another sweetener. As mentioned previously, Stevia and Erythritol mix very well together.
In large qualities, sugar alcohols are known to cause digestive problems, but it is well tolerated by most people. However, if you are sensitive to maltitol, start with low doses of erythritol to first make sure there are no adverse effects.
Another potential advantage of Erythritol is that it does not help feed bacteria in the mouth, which means it does not lead to cavities. In the keto diet, you consume very small amounts of naturally occurring sugars anyways, so your teeth will be happy in the long run.
You can find Erythritol as powder or granular form.
Lua Han Gao (Monk’s Plant)
The monk’s plant is found in China and northern Thailand. This natural keto-friendly sweetener is a powder extract that is about 300-400 times sweeter than sugar. The fruits of the plant are also extremely sweet and also used as a sweetener.
The plant has no calories nor does it increase blood sugar. It is heat stable–so it goes well with baking and hot beverages.
When buying, as previously mentioned, check the label! It is often sold containing additives, such as dextrose.
Monk’s plant is proven safe for use and no negatives side effects have been reported. Some find the taste a bit fruity, however. Studies have also shown that the plant can reduce insulin resistance.
It’s only real disadvantages are that it is hard to find, and when you do find it, it is expensive. You can sometimes find it at Chinese markets.
You can use Lua Han Gao plant extract in pure form, or as a blend with erythritol.
Stevia, Erythritol, and Lua Han Gao are all ideal alternatives to sugar when doing the keto diet.
I hope you enjoyed the article and now you know what natural alternatives to sugar are out there!
What is your favorite (natural) alternative to sugar? Have you tried Lua Han Gao? Let’s chat about it in the comments!