You’ve probably heard people say, “sugar is just as addictive as cocaine” at least once…

While it is a stretch, there is some truth in that.

Simply put, sugar is addicting, and it has no place in the keto diet.

In the United States alone, added sugars make up roughly 17% of the total calories consumed by adults and nearly 14% for children [1].

Sugar can sneak up on dieters by being hidden or mixed in with foods—from cereal to juices, it’s in pretty much everything.

Since sugar can be an obstacle in helping you reach ketosis, it’s useful to become familiar with the sugars that can kick you out of ketosis.

How Certain Sugars Can Kick You Out of Ketosis

It’s well known that sugar causes excessive weight gain, mood swings, energy spikes and drops, as well as speed up signs of aging.

Consuming too much can cause you to leave ketosis, the metabolic process in which your body relies on ketones instead of glucose from carbohydrates for energy.

Ketosis is ideal when your blood sugar is at the lowest and blood ketones are at the highest. Consuming sugar will spike insulin, raise blood sugars, and your body will be trying to use energy from the blood sugar instead of ketones.

This will obstruct ketosis and cause you to have to start the process all over again.

The following are some surprising sources of hidden, added, or natural sugars that can jeopardize your diet and kick you out of ketosis.

Particular Fruits

Even fresh fruit straight from the orchard or vine can be chock full of natural sugars. Fruits that contain high levels of natural sugar include pineapples, pears, bananas, watermelon, apples, mangoes, and prunes.

Fruits that are low in sugar are:

  • Berries: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.
  • Summer fruits: melons, peaches, nectarines, and apricots.

While these low-sugar fruits are generally safe on the keto diet, you still want to be careful not to overdo it.

So-called “Sugar-Free” Foods & Sugar Alcohol

Just because a food is listed as “no sugar added” or “0g of added sugar” doesn’t mean that the food is free of sugar.

For example, a sugar-free yogurt can still have real sugar in it. It just might not have the extra sugar that’s typically added in the manufacturing process.

Foods with sugar alcohols should ideally be avoided as well. Sugar alcohols are a type of sweet carbohydrates made up of sugar and alcohol molecules. They are found naturally or processed from other sugars, and are often hidden in foods to mimic a sweet taste.

Sugar alcohols still contain calories and carbohydrates and they are typically difficult to digest, causing stomach discomfort and bloating.

Sugar alcohols that have no or minimal effects on blood sugar are: Erythritol, Truvia, and Swerve. Some natural sweeteners that have a minimal effect on glucose are:

  • Stevia
  • Allulose
  • Monk Fruit

Particular Vegetables

Similar to fruits, vegetables can also contain natural sugars.

Try to avoid starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beets, which are also high in carbs. The following are keto-friendly vegetables with minimal amounts of sugar:

  • Bell peppers
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Carrots

Majority Of Cereals & Pasta

Even if your cereal is “healthy” or full of fiber, there’s a good chance it will have added sugar in it to make it tastier.

Say goodbye to Frosted Flakes and hello to keto-friendly alternatives like:

  • Muesli Low Carb Cereal
  • Really Good Low Carb Granola
  • Macadamia Berry Blast Keto Granola

Pasta is actually a food with a low-glycemic index. But you’re not going to want to eat your pasta totally plain, right?

It’s the additives and overly large portions that make it dangerous, adding carbohydrates to your body that causes blood glucose spikes.

Consider alternatives like zoodles or spaghetti squash instead, which don’t require much cooking time and can mimic the taste of noodles.

Non-Dairy Substitutes

Almond milk is a typical substitute for cow’s milk. But sugar is often added to milk substitutes like almond and coconut. Look for unflavored options like hemp milk, flax, pea protein, or unflavored almond milk.


Most of the time, juice is a sugar cocktail. For example, a regular 8-ounce bottle of Welch’s Grape Juice has 36 grams of sugar per serving and is 140 calories. This is more than the same amount of Coca-Cola.

Even “healthy” juices like the Naked brands can have sugar mixed in. In addition to sugar, juice has lots of carbs. Homemade keto smoothies are a good option, and there are plenty of other juice suggestions on the Internet.

Salad Dressing: Low-Fat & Fat-Free

In addition to hidden sugars, these low-fat and fat-free dressings contain a wealth of carbs.

The carbs and sugar are most commonly found in French, Thousand Islands, and balsamic vinaigrette dressings, among many others, so be vigilant.

An alternative could be a splash of vinegar and olive oil, which would count toward the healthy fat intake you’re supposed to have on the keto diet.

Diet Sodas

Consuming soda in general is usually not a good idea for health-conscious folks. Even diet sodas are full of carbs. While they may tout themselves as having zero sugars, these sodas typically contain unhealthy sugar alcohols and aspartame.

Aspartame has been linked with everything from mood disorders to birth defects. It’s a good idea to phase or cut soda out of your life, and switch to alternatives like seltzer water or healthy flavored waters.

It’s also worth noting that not all sodas use artificial sweeteners. Some use both sweetener and sugar together. Let’s take a look at one can of Coca-Cola Life. This “diet” soda contains the natural sweetener Stevia along with 24 grams of sugar [2]!

Manufactured Energy Bars

People are often fooled by energy bars like Luna or Kind Bars. Just because an energy bar is low-carb doesn’t mean that it’s keto friendly.

Energy bars can have artificial sweeteners, keto-unfriendly vegetable oils, and additional additives that can throw you off. Try making your own keto energy bars by finding recipes on the Internet or turn to keto-friendly snacks like nuts.

Processed Foods

Similar to energy bars, just because a Lean Cuisine meal is supposedly low fat and healthy doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s keto friendly.

These often have added sugars, chemical additives, and preservatives that contradict the meal’s healthy intention. They can also have more carbohydrates than keto dieters should consume on a daily basis.

Try sticking to healthy salads and unprocessed animal fats, like wild-caught fish or shrimp.

It may be hard to eliminate many of these items from your diet entirely. The point of highlighting these hidden sugar sources is to leave you more aware of what you’re consuming and reinforce the foods that could upset ketosis.

Following the ketogenic diet means making a life change, and being conscious of foods what foods you should stay away from will help you reach your goals and make that change.

[1] Azaïs-Braesco V, Sluik D, Maillot M, Kok F, Moreno LA. A review of total & added sugar intakes and dietary sources in Europe. Nutr J. 2017 Jan 21;16(1):6. doi: 10.1186/s12937-016-0225-2.

[2] Nutrition Facts: