Low-Carb Honey Substitutes: Keto Friendly Alternatives to Honey

Honey has long been praised as a superfood in the wonderful world of nutrition and health, and it certainly is a far better choice than refined sugar.

While there are plenty of conflicting opinions out there as to whether or not honey can truly be part of a healthy diet, or if it’s no better than other types of sugar, one fact remains: honey is no friend of the ketogenic diet.

In this article, we’re going to shift our focus from honey to some of the best low-carb honey substitutes that will still satisfy that sweet tooth without tossing you out of ketosis.

First, a Word on Honey

Honey should be avoided on the keto diet because while it is one of the most nutritionally dense sweeteners there is, it’s also full of fructose which can lead to negative health effects.

The majority of processed honey also contains added sugar and is also often pasteurized, losing most of the nutritional benefits it had.

While consuming honey is generally acceptable by some low carb diets, it contains too many carbs to be considered a keto-friendly food. Just one tablespoon typically has 17 grams of carbs, which is nearly half of the daily allotted amount.

There are plenty of other excellent sweetener options out there and with a much lower glycemic index. Let’s take a look!

Low-Carb Substitutes for Honey

A lot of people starting out on the keto diet find themselves with intense sugar cravings initially, but keep in mind that this will go away after a few weeks.

As a rule of thumb, however, it’s always a good idea to avoid sweeteners in the beginning since they’re known to lead to more cravings and could even stall your progress.

But when the cravings do come, try out some of these great, all-natural, low-carb honey substitutes!

Stevia

Stevia is one of the best honey alternatives out there, and is the key ingredient in the popular sweetener Truvia. This natural plant indigenous to Brazil and Peru is made with little to no chemical additives.

This excellent substitute has no effect on blood sugar levels and can even lead to long-term weight loss1 among other health benefits. Stevia has also been shown to lower insulin and blood sugar levels, which can help fight diabetes2.

When purchasing stevia products, go for the liquid-based version, which is typically raw powdered stevia mixed in with a solution that keeps it pure. Powdered stevia, on the other hand, is commonly mixed in with other sweeteners that may contain hidden carbs.

Inulin

This natural-based sweetener that is most commonly extracted from chicory root. Most plants that synthesize and store away inulin do not store other forms of carbs, like starch.

Inulin’s flavor profile ranges from bland to subtly sweet —about 10% the sweetness of regular sugar — and it makes for a great, all-natural sweetener. In addition to being versatile, inulin also comes with plenty of health benefits, such an aiding in digestion.

You can mix inulin into other sweeteners, such as erythritol, to reduce after-taste and also to increase cooking ability.

Monk Fruit

Also known as Buddha fruit or longevity fruit, monk fruit is a completely natural sweetener that contains 100-250 times the sweetness of white sugar, but without those pesky calories, carbs, and negative effects on blood sugar.

Originating in Southeast Asia, this small fruit has long been used in Thailand and China for centuries as both a medicinal remedy as well as a sweetener in food and drinks.

The West caught on to the sweet wonders of monk fruit in the past twenty years, and was officially give the green light by the FDA in 2009.

Monk fruit also contains antioxidant compounds that may even exhibit cancer preventive effects3.

You can find this sweetener in the raw online or at your local grocery store’s sugar aisle. The best monk fruit products will only contain monk fruit extract and inulin.

Some of these include Swanson Lo Han Sweetener (contains inulin), Kal Monk Fruit Powder, or NuNaturals Lo Han Supreme.

Allulose

This newish sweetener has only been on the market for a few years, but is already creating a buzz as being another top all-natural sweetener.

This sugar-like ingredient is made up of a simple sugar (monosaccharide) that is found in small quantities in certain fruits (such as figs, raisins, and jackfruit), wheat, and some sugary sweeteners like brown sugar and maple syrup.

100% of allulose is excreted from the body without being metabolized, which is why it has no net carb content and no glycemic index. So in other words, our bodies don’t have the ability to use it for fuel.

The only word of caution about allulose is the unknown long-term effects it has on the microbiome. In general, however, allulose has been found to be safe.

The Takeaway

There are many sweeteners out there that have been extensively studied and deemed safe that go beyond this list, such as erythritol, xylitol, organic yacon, and so on, but hopefully this will give you a good starting point.

Just remember, while you can indulge in any old zero-carb sweetener from time to time, it’s always best to stay away from sweeteners that will spike blood sugar, such as maltitol, dextrose, maltose, and the like.

More Readings:

Keto Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

Four Low-Carb, Keto-Friendly Alternatives to Oatmeal

How and Crunchy Delicious Keto Cheesy Fries

The Complete List of Keto Friendly Fruits

References:

[1] Ashwell M. Stevia, Nature’s Zero-Calorie Sustainable Sweetener: A New Player in the Fight Against Obesity. Nutr Today. 2015 May; 50(3): 129–134.

[2] Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, Coulon S, Cefalu WT, Geiselman P, Williamson DA. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite. 2010;55:37–43.

[3] Takasaki M, Konoshima T, Murata Y, Sugiura M, Nishino H, Tokuda H, Matsumoto K, Kasai R, Yamasaki K. Anticarcinogenic activity of natural sweeteners, cucurbitane glycosides, from Momordica grosvenori. Cancer Lett. 2003 Jul 30;198(1):37-42.

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