Ah, the keto diet—a controversial topic among health buffs and experts alike. Is it too restrictive? Is it healthy? What is it, actually? Well, the keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet, similar to the Atkins diet that gained popularity in the early 2000’s. The name keto comes from the word “ketosis,” which is a metabolic state where your body becomes highly skilled at burning fat for energy. It’s known to be effective at helping manage blood sugar levels, and many people love it for weight loss. But because it’s a relatively extreme, low-carb diet, it may be hard to stick with long term.
That brings us back to the topic of sugar, which is high-carb and generally not recommended in added forms on the keto diet (with 4 grams of carbs per teaspoon of sugar, you can quickly reach your daily keto carb limit of 50 grams daily). What’s the next best thing? Sugar substitutes—but we want to choose the healthiest ones for baking, cooking, and sweetening beverages. Here are four keto-friendly alternative sweeteners you can enjoy:
Derived from a plant native to South America (Stevia Rebaudiana), it has zero calories or carbs, making it a keto rock star. It’s super-concentrated and a common sweetener for coffee and tea. Find it in powder and liquid forms to see which one you prefer.
Newer on the scene and traditionally used in Asian broths and teas, monk fruit is one of the more expensive sugar-substitutes and is therefore usually mixed with stevia. Most say the taste profile is closer to sugar than stevia is, though.
This sugar alcohol made from fermented corn doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels. It comes in a granulated form, which makes it great for baking, and it’s actually been shown to reduce dental plaque (many people add it to coconut oil when oil pulling!). However, some people may experience symptoms of an upset stomach, like gas and bloating, with sugar alcohols.
Another sugar alcohol commonly used in sugar-free gums and candies, xylitol is LOW carb, but not zero carb, so it should only be used in small amounts while following the keto diet. Xylitol can be used in a 1:1 ratio to sugar, as it has a similar taste but half the calories.
Wondering why coconut sugar didn’t make the list? Is coconut sugar keto? The answer is no. It has 4 grams of carbs, just like table sugar, and it can spike your blood sugar levels the same way.
So, if you are thinking about kicking off your own keto journey, rest assured that your dessert options are still open! It’s easy to find most of the above substitutes at local grocery stores and as well as candy and ice creams that are keto-friendly. Are you keto, or do you have any experiences with alt sweeteners? We want to hear from you!