Low Carb Sugar Substitutes: Sweet Alternatives to Sugar

The keto philosophy is based on living sugar-free and staying as low carb as possible with the ultimate gain of reaching and maintaining ketosis. While these seemingly strict limitations can be a challenge for keto dieters, they actually don’t have to be.

You might be surprised to learn that many of your favorite foods have both delicious and incredibly healthy alternatives. So if giving up sweets is a deal breaker for any of you contemplating the ketogenic diet, read on to find the best sugar alternatives to sate those sugar cravings!

Low-Down on Sugar

Even if you aren’t a sweets buff, sugar is everywhere and found in a huge number of food items. It can even pop up in surprising places you wouldn’t have thought, like cheese, low-fat yogurts, fruit juice, sports drinks, granola, and so much more.

But the fact of the matter remains, the stuff just isn’t good for you. Sugar consumption has long been linked to an increased risk of many diseases, including obesity and heart disease[1].

The biggest issue people face when dealing with sugar consumption is the understanding of food labels, which can often be misleading and difficult to comprehend. Since so many ingredients are created in a lab, it can be a struggle to recognize or even pronounce many of them.

A good rule of thumb is to look for labels that are straightforward and contain simple labels. If you’re buying peanut butter, for example, the only ingredients should be peanuts and sat; that’s all.

Keto and Sugar Cravings

The issue with your body and sugar is that your energy levels and overall health are invariably tied to your blood sugar. When your blood sugar levels are low, it’s common to experience fatigue, mood swings, and intense cravings.

Luckily, the keto diet is a lifestyle that puts an end to your body’s reliance on sugar. While it doesn’t happen overnight, your sugar cravings will go away. Similar to sugar, foods that are starchy and high in carbs have the same effects on your body.

By maintaining a proper balance of protein, fat, and fiber in your diet, you will keep your blood sugar from dipping, which is the culprit for your sugar cravings.

Low-Carb Sugar Substitutes

While you can expect your sugar and carb cravings to subside if not end altogether after embarking on the keto diet, there are still plenty of great ways to indulge that sweet tooth if need be.

Let’s dive into the best all-natural, low-carb sweeteners you can use for recipes, tea, or your morning cup of Joe.

Stevia

Don’t be surprised if you find this sugar substitute at the top of most lists, as it’s one of the most popular natural sweeteners on the market. Stevia is extracted from an herb and belongs to a group of non-nutritive sweeteners. This means it does not contain any calories, vitamins, and other nutrients.

Stevia is the perfect natural sweetener because it has no impact whatsoever on blood sugar levels and has even been found to have some health benefits[2], such as blood sugar balance.

You can find Stevia at almost any grocery store. It comes in powder form, drops, or glycerite (a more gooey substance). Some Stevia-based sweeteners include SweetLeaf and NuNaturals.

When shopping for Stevia, ensure that the Stevia product does not contain any additional artificial sweeteners, maltodextrin, dextrose, or even sugar. These ingredients are known to raise blood sugar levels.

Erythritol

Erythritol is found naturally in vegetables, fruits, and fermented foods, and is a sugar alcohol that doesn’t affect blood glucose. It also touts zero calories, making it another popular sugar substitute.

Be careful how much you consume, however. Large quantities of erythritol daily can cause stomach discomfort. Your body can generally tolerate daily doses of 1 gram per kilogram of body weight.

Its sweetness is about 0.7 of sugar, so you may need to use more than you’re used to. Some foods that naturally contain small amounts of erythritol include grapes, pears, watermelon, mushrooms, and other fermented foods.

Erythritol is a great sweetener to use for cooking, as its easy on the stomach and has a clean aftertaste. One thing to keep in mind when cooking with erythritol is that it is not hygroscopic, meaning it doesn’t attract moisture. So for recipes that call for more of a moist texture, try blending erythritol with stevia or one other natural sweetener.

When purchasing erythritol products, be sure what you buy is non-GMO and 100% organic.

Monk Fruit

Also known as luo han guo and longevity fruit, monk fruit hails from northern Thailand and China. Coming in with 300 times the sweetness of regular sugar, monk fruit has long been used in Chinese medicine to treat conditions like diabetes and obesity. While it’s just as sweet as stevia, it doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste most stevia products have.

Pure monk fruit contains zero calories and carbs, making it a great sugar substitute for keto dieters, but just like the other sweeteners on this list, be mindful of the monk fruit products you purchase. Some contains caloric ingredients like inulin.

You’ll also want to avoid any products that contain artificial sweeteners and unnecessary additives. The best products will only contain monk fruit extract and inulin. Some of these include Kal Monk Fruit Powder, Swanson Lo Han Sweetener (contains inulin), or NuNaturals Lo Han Supreme.

Inulin-based Sweeteners

Inulin is a natural product found in root vegetables that also makes for a great low-carb and low-calorie sugar substitutes.

Chicory root inulin is one of the more popular inulin-based sweeteners on the market and can be found in the product Just Like Sugar. This sweetener boasts vitamin C, orange peel, and calcium.

Unlike sugar alcohols, inulin sweeteners do not have any cooling effect and should not cause digestive issues if the recommended amount is not exceeded.

When it comes to sugar and your ketogenic diet, there are simply plenty of great substitutes you can try to satisfy your cravings. Don’t get too hung up on which of these to use in your coffee or when baking, but rather try them all to see which taste you like best.

You’ll find the internet is chock-full of amazing and super keto-friendly recipes, so get in the kitchen and get cooking!

More Readings:

Top 10 Keto Friendly Substitutes: Low-Carb Substitutes

Low Carb vs. Keto Diet: What’s the Difference?

Low Carb Potato Substitutes For Keto

Delicious Keto Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

Top 12 Fruits to Eat on Keto (& Stay in Ketosis)

References:

[1] Yang Q, Zhang Z, Gregg EW, Flander WD, Merritt R, Hu FB. Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Apr;174(4).

[2] 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.

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Jessica Cotzin is a freelance writer, web developer, and avid traveler. Born and raised in South Florida, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multi-Media Journalism from Florida Atlantic University and currently resides in Miami Beach. Her passions lie in reading great literature and traveling the world, bumping blindly into new adventures.

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