The Complete Low-Carb Dietary Guidelines For Sweeteners
It’s very common that some people who start a ketogenic diet plan feel a huge craving for sugar in the beginning.
And even those who have been following a low-carb diet for a longer time may feel like candy (and even sugar) once in a while.
While it’s normal for the desire for sugar to decrease or even increase after a time on the ketogenic diet , it sometimes can be so strong that some people just cannot resist temptations …
And it is at this time that sweeteners can be interesting allies.
Because they enable you to indulge in true low-carb delicacies that you otherwise would have to avoid.
Of course it is important to use your common sense.
Because most things that say “carbohydrate-free” still actually contain a little of them.
Therefore, it may be necessary to calculate how many carbohydrates there are in the sweeteners you consume.
In addition, most of the time, it is best to try and avoid sweeteners. And this is especially true at the beginning of the diet.
Also because for some people sweeteners can provoke and excite their sweet cravings – which results in overuse that potentially slows down their progress.
Therefore, it is important to stay focused and try to consume sweets only occasionally when you are on a low-carb diet .
Even so, for those occasions, it is valid to understand what types of sweeteners you will find out there.
And of course, which ones fit into a low-carb or ketogenic diet plan.
Low-Carb Sweeteners: Types Of Sweeteners And Tips For Choosing
There are many ways to classify sweeteners.
In this article, we are going to use 3 main categories.
- natural sweeteners,
- sugar alcohols
- synthetic or artificial sweeteners.
I am going to talk about what are the main representatives are of each of these categories.
But the summary is more or less the following:
“On a low-carbohydrate diet, the main idea when choosing sweeteners remains the same: favor sweeteners with fewer carbohydrates.”
The most used sweeteners in low carb diets are xylitol, erythritol and stevia (or a mixture of them).
This is because they:
- are natural,
- do not cause blood sugar spikes,
- do not cause insulin spikes, and
- perfectly sweet your drinks, dishes and recipes.
So when you buy sweeteners, be sure to take a look at the ingredients in the packaging.
You will want to use pure sweeteners instead of those that have additives in their composition like maltodextrin, dextrose or polydextrose.
This is because these additives can cause blood sugar spikes, and also add grams and grams of unnecessary carbohydrates to your recipes.
Beware of the additives
For example, most commercial sugar free foods use sweeteners take stevia, cyclamate, sucralose, or saccharin as their “main” sweetener.
However, these sweeteners are far more potent than sugar.
What makes these products have a sugar like articleure?
Generally, a solution of maltodextrin is added to the formula.
Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate, but it is not sweet.
Thus the sweeteners somehow get close to the desired articleure, but they become sweeteners plus maltodextrin (which is totally carbohydrate)!
This is one another reason to watch for labels, and learn more about sweeteners.
And that’s what we’re going to do now: address each of the major sweeteners in detail and help you decide which one is best for you.
Before that, let’s just understand the concept of glycemic index or GI.
Low-Carb Sweeteners: What Does “GI” Mean?
Before we talk about sweeteners, it may be interesting to explain what “GI” is.
After all, in several tables concerning sweeteners (as we have below), you will see this acronym next to each name and then a corresponding number.
“GI” refers to the glycemic index , which measures how much your blood glucose is elevated by any given food.
Since the glycemic index is calculated in comparison with the peak of glycemia caused by the ingestion of pure glucose.
(On this scale, glucose has GI = 100.)
Many sweeteners have GI = 0, which means they do not raise blood sugar.
And since following the low-carb diet is about keeping your blood glucose under control, you will probably want sweeteners that have the lowest GI.
However, I know it is not always possible to use the best sweeteners.
Sometimes you may choose sweeteners that are less than ideal, but may be preferable for other reasons (such as price or the taste is more appealing to you).
It’s also possible to mix different sweeteners, either to improve their flavor or lower the total cost of a recipe.
Below you will find a summary table of the main sweeteners used.
It has the name of the sweeteners and their respective glycemic indexes, amount of carbohydrates and calories.
By reading the article to the end, you will find another list – containing the sweeteners you should avoid in a low-carb ketogenic diet .
|Sweetener||GI||Type||Liquid Carbohydrate (per 100g)||Calories (per 100g)|
|Fruit of the monks||0||Natural||0-25||0-100|
As you can see, there are many options, but you don’t need to rely on this table to make your choices.
Since the table cannot reflect the whole truth.
After all, it does not take into account elements like relative sweetness – that is, how sweet sweeteners are when compared to sugar – which is very important when making your choice.
But not to worry.
Because from this point on you are going to find out more about various low-carb sweeteners.
And let’s begin this exploration by addressing so-called natural sweeteners.
Stévia sweetener (glycemic index: 0)
Stevia is a natural herb whose extract has a high sweetening power.
Stevia extract has virtually no calories (nor carbohydrates) and its popularity has grown in recent years. It’s now very common to find low-carb recipes that use stevia.
Stevia may even have some benefits to human health.
Recent studies have shown that it can reduce blood pressure slightly, as well as reduce blood glucose and insulin levels in diabetics (probably because it’s used as a substitute for sugar).
It has also had excellent results in animal testing with regard to its anti-inflammatory effects.
But be careful when buying stevia .
Because stevia powder is often mixed with other undesirable sweeteners and additives (which contain a considerable amount of carbohydrate ).
Therefore, always try and look for it in its liquid form.
When you get it this way, it will usually be composed of a simple solution with stevia, which maintains its purity.
One last note about stevia: Many people complain about their bitter aftertaste.
However in several recipes you can mix stevia with xylitol or erythritol to decrease or even cancel this aftertaste.
In short: Stevia is a good sweetener to be used on a low-carb, paleo-low-carb or ketogenic diet – and it may have positive effects on health.
Look for stevia in its liquid form.
Sweetener Inulin (glycemic index: 0)
Inulin is a natural sweetener, and is present in several plants.
Being that, for commercial purposes, it usually is usually extracted from the chicory root.
Often in the packaging of inulin it has been written that their carbohydrates are not absorbed, but this information may not be 100% true.
In fact some studies indicate that some of the carbohydrates of inulin can be absorbed by our body (about 25 to 35% of them).
In all, inulin does a great job as a sweetener, especially when mixed with other sweeteners.
This is because it has low glycemic index and because our body absorb only part of its calories.
In addition, inulin:
- adds sweetness,
- can caramelize like sugar, and
- usually does not have any aftertaste.
The negative part is due to its weak sweetening power: about 10% when compared to the common sugar.
That is, you would have to use 10 times more inulin than you would use sugar in a recipe .
And that does away with any advantage in terms of calories (or carbohydrates).
Even if it does not cause gastric problems at low daily doses (studies have been done with doses of up to 20 grams), it may have a laxative effect if consumed excessively.
(Also, it is a fructan , so it should also be avoided by people with FODMAP sensitivity .)
On a positive note, according to research, inulin may have some prebiotic effects.
Thus helping our digestive system to function well, providing it’s consumed in “normal” (not excessive) amounts.
To summarize: Inulin used in a moderate way can be a useful. It can also be mix with other sweeteners (such as erythritol), to help reduce any aftertaste and increase its cooking possibilities.
In terms of a ketogenic diet, some studies have shown a slight uptake of inulin carbohydrates, so it may have more carbohydrates than its packaging says.
In any case, due to its low sweetening power , inulin is not a practical option as a substitute for sugar in a low-carb diet.
Monk fruit sweetener (glycemic index: 0)
Also known as Luo Han Guo, the fruit-of-the-monks is native to China.
It’s an extremely sweet sweetener (which sweetens about 150 to 300 times more than sugar).
It has already been used in some places as part of obesity and diabetes treatments.
At first glance the monk fruit seems excellent: besides being quite sweet, it does not raise blood glucose, and even seems to have some anti-inflammatory properties.
However, it is very difficult to find.
Additional to this, it is very expensive to buy in its purest form.
When found in bulk, often the Luo Han Guo will be mixed with other sweeteners (which may have carbohydrates or high glycemic index).
That is: in most cases, the best option will be to avoid it.
In summary: Although it appears to be a very good sweetener, it is very difficult to find in its purest form – and many common brands of Luo Han Guo will contain hidden carbohydrates.
For these reason, it seems best to avoid.
Sweetener Taumatine (glycemic index: 0)
Thaumatine has been used for centuries by West African natives to sweeten food.
Even today, thaumatin is collected in its wild form (Katemfe fruit) by West African rainforest dwellers.
The protein of this fruit (thaumatin) is extracted with the aid of water, in a process that is 100% natural.
This protein has amazing sweetness power (about 2000 times more than sugar), which makes it the most potent natural sweetener there is.
Its flavor is slightly different from sugar, and has a slight aftertaste.
In addition, it seems to work very well with stevia to improve the taste and sweetness of food.
It also helps to improve the taste of salty foods, even those “reduced in sodium”.
That’s because it’s a very effective flavor modifier and potentiator.
For thaumatin, when used in very small amounts, seems to highlight the essential flavors of food.
In addition, thaumatin is heat stable and therefore suitable for cooking.
Another positive point about thaumatin is its glycemic index (which is zero) and the fact that it is not harmful to the teeth.
Thaumatin can also be used by diabetics for two reasons: because it is not a carbohydrate and because it does not raise blood glucose levels.
However, thaumatin is generally not used as a sweetener in its pure form, and is generally marketed in a mixture with other sweeteners.
By the way, its most popular use is by processed food manufacturers.
And in this case, it is also often used in conjunction with other sweeteners. That is: you will hardly find any food product that is sweetened only with thaumatin.
There doesn’t seem to be any harm or concerns associated with the consumption of pure thaumatin. The body is able to metabolize it like any other protein.
To summarize: It seems to be a great sweetener in its pure form. However, one must be careful when buying thaumatin. It usually comes mixed with other sweeteners which are not recommended on the low-carb diet.
Tagatose Sweetener (Glycemic Index: 3)
Tagatose is a monosaccharide (that is, a simple sugar) that occurs naturally in cocoa, and also in some fruits and dairy products.
Commercially, it is produced from reactions with lactose (the milk sugar), with a sweetness approximately 90% that of sugar.
Tagatose has a mild refreshing effect similar to that of erythritol. However, unlike erythritol, it is capable of caramelizing – just like sugar.
It also has a lower glycemic index than that of xylitol and is not toxic to dogs, although it is a little more difficult to find.
It is considered safe for use along with other sweeteners on a low carbohydrate diet.
Along with this, it comes with some health benefits like increased HDL cholesterol , plus a probiotic effect by promoting the health of gut bacteria.
To summarize: Tagatose is used sparingly and generally combined with other sweeteners.
It sweetens slightly less than table sugar, but has a low glycemic index.
Because tagatose contains approximately 35g of carbohydrates per 100g, it may be interesting to use, but be careful about the amount.
Natural sweeteners in the low-carb diet
Briefly, the main natural sweeteners are:
- Monk fruit (or luo han guo),
- thaumatin, and
Being that the highlight of these sweeteners is stevia.
Because it can sweeten 70 to 400 times more than regular table sugar, without containing calories or raising blood sugar.
That’s why stevia is often used in candy recipes on low-carb and ketogenic diets (such as this incredible low-carb ice cream recipes ) – or even on low-carb breakfast recipes .
Now that we have seen the main natural sweeteners, let’s examine the main representatives of sugar alcohols.
Sugar alcohols (which may also be called “alcohol sugars” or “polyols”) are technically natural sweeteners.
Because they are present in small amounts in fruits and vegetables that are found in nature.
I start with one of my favorites: xylitol.
Sweetener Xylitol (Glycemic Index: 13)
The Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is normally found in fruits and vegetables.
It’s not very nutrient dense and has a relatively low glycemic index – so it does not dramatically affect blood sugar levels.
Another advantage is that only 60% of its carbohydrates (and calories) are actually absorbed by our bodies.
Many people appreciate this sweetener because its sweetness and consistency are very close to that of sugar. This makes it an ideal substitution to use in low-carb recipes, for example.
(In these cases, it is replaces sugar in the ratio 1: 1 – which only helps when adapting to the low-carb world.
Among other things, xylitol, like erythritol, may even help with oral health.
This is why it’s commonly found in many chewing gum and candies.
Its consumption has also been associated with increased collagen production and the health of good gut bacteria.
The downside is that some people may experience stomach discomfort after consuming – and intakes greater than 65 grams per day may cause diarrhea.
Important note: Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and can be lethal to them even in small doses. So be sure to keep away from your pooch!
To summarize: This is a great sweetener and can be used almost as an exact substitute for sugar.
On the other hand, as in the case of any sweetener, its is not to be used in excess.
It can cause gastrointestinal problems when ingested in excess, and contains a non-negligible amount of calories.
Sweetener Erythritol (glycemic index: 0)
Erythritol is a sweetener found naturally in some fruits and vegetables and is usually extracted from corn.
One of the great pluses for erythritol is that it does not raise blood sugar levels.
Along with this, only a very small part of the calories (and carbohydrates) is actually absorbed by our body.
Fortunately we can consume a good amount of erythritol without harm to health: about 1 gram of the sweetener per 2 pound of body weight does not seem to bring any adverse effects to the human body.
However, some people report feeling some intestinal discomfort when eating erythritol, xylitol or even other sugar alcohols.
Although this is unlikely to occur unless you’re taking massive amounts of erythritol, and effects may vary from person to person.
In general, it is one of the best sweeteners for the ketogenic diet.
This is because it does not raise blood glucose and contains very few absorbable carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, erythritol is still not easily found and its price tends to be very high (hence the reason I prefer xylitol).
Its sweetening power is about 70% when compared to sugar, and it has almost no calorie.
To summarize: This is a great sweetener to be used on a low-carb diet.
Erythritol is almost completely excreted through the urine, having practically 0 carbohydrates.
Just like xylitol, it can cause gastrointestinal problems if used in excess, and does not impair oral health.
Maltitol Sweetener (Glycemic Index: 36)
Maltitol is commonly used in light, diet and zero products because it tastes very similar to sugar.
Its flavor is very similar to regular sugar, and people get excited when they discover it only has 70% of the calories of ordinary sugar.
Similar taste and less calories … Looks pretty good at first glance, right?
However, it has a high glycemic index, and worse than that: its sweetening power is about 70% that of sugar.
What does this mean in practice?
It means that manufacturers tend to put more maltitol in the recipes to make them equally sweet – so you end up consuming the same amount of calories (and liquid carbs) as if you consumed pure sugar !
(Note that this is a different situation in the case of xylitol and erythritol.
Xylitol sweetens like sugar, but with fewer carbohydrates – accounting for about 60% of the carbohydrates and calories of table sugar.
And erythritol actually sweetens less than sugar, but has virtually no carbohydrates or calories.)
However, due to laws, many products do not present maltitol’s carbohydrates in the total carbohydrate count .
This means many people may end up consuming carbohydrates without being aware of it.
So essentially, on a low-carbohydrate diet, it’s always best to be skeptical of products that use maltitol.
I often see people excessively consuming products that use maltitol, which can lead to stagnation in their weight loss goals .
Many also complain about the laxative effects that this sweetener has (since it is usually used in large quantities due to its lack of sweetening power).
And, just like the alcohol sugars cited above, it is also associated with stomach and bowel problems, including bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
To summarize: It’s better to avoid its consumption.
Although it is one of the most commonly consumed sugar alcohols, it has a high glycemic index and can also cause a number of gastric problems.
Other sugar alcohols
There are many other sugar alcohols that can be found added to low-carb products, or those sold for cooking.
But the truth is that most of these should be avoided or at least used moderately.
Among these, we can mention: sorbitol, lactitol, glycerol and isomalt.
In addition to presenting non-negligible amounts of carbohydrates effectively absorbed by our body, they also raise blood sugar levels.
Therefore, you should always be wary of products that claim to be zero-carbohydrate or sugar-free, since they usually contain some of these sugar alcohols.
In addition, as mentioned earlier, sugar alcohols are considered FODMAPs, and should be avoided by people sensitive to these food groups.
Anyway, on a ketogenic diet, you will not want to consume too much sweeteners – even in the case of “natural” sweeteners like xylitol and erythritol.
Because excessive consumption of any sweetener can trigger a craving for sugar, and make the transition to a low carbohydrate diet even more difficult than it already is.
In addition this, it provokes stagnation in weight loss.
So while sweeteners can make your food more interesting and help control cravings, they should always be used in moderation.
After all, the basis of your food should consist of real food .
And the function of candies, and low-carb delicacies is just a sugar free “icing on the cake” an addition to a healthy new lifestyle.
To summarize: The industry does not stop inventing or betting on new sweeteners. Beware of products that claim to be low in carbohydrates – because labels often do not tell the whole story.
Abstract: Low-carb sugar alcohols
In summary, the main sugar alcohols used in the low-carb diet are:
- maltitol, and
The highlights are xylitol and erythritol.
Because they are less caloric and lower sugar and insulin in the blood than table sugar.
And they can be used as substitutes for sugar in most recipes.
We ourselves, when making low-carb or ketogenic jams, usually opt for xylitol.
The results are simply amazing!
And, now that we’ve seen the major representatives of sugar alcohols, let’s talk about the popular – and controversial – artificial or synthetic sweeteners.
Artificial Sweeteners (Synthetics)
Artificial or synthetic sweeteners are a very controversial topic in the world of low-carb diets.
This is because hardcore advocates of the insulin hypothesis for weight gain tend to consider it worth consuming since it is low-carb – as in the case of the sweeteners we are going to explore here.
However, adepts of the paleo or primal diet do not like the idea of consuming synthetic ingredients which were certainly not part of our evolutionary past.
Both sides have valid arguments, and the fact is that this article would not be complete without addressing artificial sweeteners.
Also, because a lot of people use synthetic sweeteners to make low carbohydrate sweets, or to sweeten everyday drinks like coffee and flavored water.
Here we will look at 3 of the main artificial sweeteners consumed on low-carb and ketogenic diets.
Sucralose Sweetener (glycemic index: variable)
Sucralose has a high sweetness, but there is some controversy about its glycemic index.
On average, we see that its GI is around 80 when in powder form.
That is: it is larger than the glycemic index of sugar, causing large insulin spikes. For this reason, it should be avoided in its powder form in the ketogenic diet.
On the other hand, sucralose can be easily found in its liquid form as well, with a glycemic index equal to 0 – bringing little or no effect on blood insulin levels.
In this case, its sweetening power is very high, being almost 600 times sweeter than sugar.
Liquid sucralose is also good used in conjunction with other sweeteners that are less sweet than sugar (such as inulin) for cooking.
On the other hand, new evidence is emerging every day that call into question the idea that sucralose is indeed harmless – especially to diabetics.
That’s because one study showed that sucralose intake increased glucose and insulin levels in a glucose tolerance test (when compared to water intake).
(The study involved patients who were obese and did not usually consume non-caloric sweeteners.)
It’s too early to assess the impacts of occasional sucralose intake on a low-carb diet, especially if the rest of your diet is healthy.
But this study serves as a reminder that often the evolutionary paradigm (that is, the concept of “this is what we evolved eating”) can still be a good guide for decision making.
However, sucralose does not appear to be dangerous and, in low amounts and with low frequency of use, its use may be useful.
To summarize: Sucralose in its liquid form can be used sparingly.
The powdered version has a high glycemic index and is often mixed with other unwanted ingredients in the ketogenic diet and should therefore be avoided.
Aspartame Sweetener (Glycemic Index: 0)
Aspartame is probably the best-known artificial sweetener – also one of the most controversial.
It’s quite common, and is often used to sweeten foods and beverages. This sweetener is most commonly found in products called “light” or “diet” .
However, it should be used in foods or recipes that are not subject to high temperatures. This is because heat causes a breakdown of molecules and leads to a bitter and strange aftertaste.
In addition, aspartame has already had its name associated with multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, blindness, and other diseases.
However, these side effects have not been tested in recent studies within the last 40 years.
In any case, it is better to avoid it: there are several other alternatives that are better and are proven to be free of side effects.
After all, the risks aren’t worth that extra bit of sweetness in your morning coffee.
Recommendation: Avoid aspartame wherever possible.
Although there is much debate about aspartame, there are far superior sweeteners on the market.
Saccharin sweetener (glycemic index: variable)
Saccharin is one of the oldest sweeteners on the market, and was introduced more than 150 years ago.
Nowadays, it is not very commonly found or used, but it still deserves attention when we talk about synthetic sweeteners.
In the 1970s in the United States, all saccharin products had to be labeled with a warning that it could cause cancer in people or animals.
But this was removed during the 2000s, as animal testing could not be ethically reproduced in humans.
(And, in any case, the dosages employed in the studies were absurdly high, not corresponding to normal consumption situations.
As even excess water can kill , these studies don’t really seem relevant.)
It’s a fact that there are reports of side effects caused by saccharin in the short term, but none of them were actually replicated in studies.
In addition to the controversy with saccharin, another reason to avoid it is that during the cooking process, it can generate an extremely bitter taste.
Since many of us are looking for sweeteners for cooking, this will usually leave a nasty taste after taste.
Recommendation: Saccharin is best avoided.
If your quest is for fewer calories, opt for erythritol, stevia, or even sucralose.
Synthetic sweeteners and intestinal flora – an important observation
One study (very well conducted, by the way) showed significant changes in the intestinal flora of rats when consuming synthetic sweeteners.
In this study, the consumption of artificial sweeteners altered the populations of bacteria in the rats intestines.
This change in microbiota induced a glucose intolerance in the group that consumed the artificial sweeteners.
Of course neither you nor I are rats.
However, it is quite possible that these changes in the intestinal flora could happen to us too.
In addition, this phenomenon is only one of the possible side effects artificial sweeteners are expected to have.
There is also the possibility of artificial sweeteners interfering with metabolism – including possible interactions with sweet taste receptors that stimulate insulin release.
Certainly more research is needed, but in my opinion this is yet another reason not to abuse sweeteners – in this case, particularly the artificial ones.
Below you can find a graphical representation of some of the sweeteners that have been covered in this article.
As explained, it is always best to opt for sweeteners with near-zero, low-calorie glycemic indexes.
With this criteria in mind,and taking the available evidence into account, the best sweeteners for day-to-day use the low-carb or ketogenic diet are xylitol , erythritol, and stevia – and, to a lesser extent, sucralose in its liquid form.
It’s also good to be mindful of products that say they contain little or no sugar but are processed – since these products usually have some form of high GI sweetener.
Sweeteners to Avoid in a Ketogenic Diet
In this section, we will mention sweeteners that, in our opinion, should be avoided at all costs on a low-carb / ketogenic diet.
Despite the marketing and “fitness appeal” that many of them have, they behave very much like common sugar in the body.
That is, it’s makes no sense spending more money on coconut sugar, for example, if at the end of the day it will be processed the same way as sugar in the body.
That said, let’s introduce some of the sweeteners that “everyone knows are wrong” – and even unmask some that try to look healthy and good when they certainly are not.
Avoid high-fructose corn syrup
High fructose corn syrup or simply high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a highly processed sweetener made from corn derivatives.
It became very popular in the 1970s when the price of corn in the United States became low because of US government subsidies.
However, it’s basically composed of simple sugar and fructose, a combination that we know brings many health hazards.
Several studies were done to compare corn syrup and sugar, and many of them presented similar results.
Anyway, they’re pretty much the same thing: bad for our health and should be completely avoided.
Moreover, they are strongly associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Sugar, as we all know, should be avoided at all costs.
It’s linked to various health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, bad cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and even sugar addiction itself.
Besides not presenting any good nutrients, its consumption usually results in fat storage.
It can be labeled in several different ways on product packaging, and has several “close cousins”.
Like brown sugar, demerara sugar, and even “organic sugar”.
But these variations are just a few tricks to mask it.
Common table sugar is broken up into fructose and glucose when it is ingested.
While glucose occurs naturally in our bodies (in normal amounts), this is not the case fructose.
Too much fructose can be stored as glycogen, which in itself is not bad.
However, it can also be stored as fat, which happens when our glycogen stores are full.
This may even lead to non-alcoholic cirrhosis or hepatic steatosis and other problems.
Also, fructose is the most anti-ketosis sugar that exists – so if your priority is to stay in ketosis, this is one more reason to avoid it.
Avoid coconut sugar
Coconut sugar is made from the coconut palm blossom, and its sap is heated until all the water evaporates.
The final product is grainy and brown in color.
It keeps some of the plant’s original nutrients (despite the heating process) and still contains some inulin.
But that’s not enough to make it a good choice for people on a low-carbohydrate diet.
Because it holds about 11g of carbs to each tablespoon.
Even more because coconut sugar is mainly composed of sucrose (the same substance that makes up the common white sugar), which is half fructose and half glucose.
(And again remembering that excessive consumption of fructose leads to hepatic steatosis and storage of visceral fat in the abdomen.)
Its GI is about 35 (while that of ordinary sugar is around 60 to 65).
That is, it is less than expected, due to some insoluble fibers stilly being present.
Anyway, the consumption of coconut sugar will definitely cause spikes in sugar and insulin levels – plus it consists of unnecessary carbohydrates for those who want to lose weight.
Avoid fruit juice
Although some fruits can be consumed in moderation in a ketogenic diet, such as strawberries, it is always best to avoid their juices.
Or even those fruit juices that are processed and used as sweeteners in some products (such as apple juice concentrate).
They contain fructose, and have a very high glycemic index, resulting in insulin spikes and rising blood sugar levels.
Most fruit juices will contain at least 20g of carbohydrates per serving, so they don’t have any place on a low-carb diet.
Honey is one of the most nutritionally dense sweeteners with respect to micronutrients.
This leads many people to believe this would be a good alternative to sugar – and a healthier alternative.
But this is not necessarily true.
Honey is full of fructose and, like the other sweeteners avoided on this list, can produce negative health effects.
Processed honeys are even worse: these sugars are also pasteurized, losing most of their nutritional benefits.
While small amounts of honey is acceptable to some low-carb supporters, it contains too many carbohydrates to “fit” into a very-low-carb or ketogenic diet (one tablespoon of honey contains about 17g of carbohydrates).
There are definitely many other ways to sweeten your food and at the same time ingest less carbohydrates.
Avoid maple syrup ( maple syrup )
While maple syrup and honey can be used sparingly in lower-carb diets and paleo diets, they are not recommended in ketogenic diets.
The ketogenic diet is a very restricted diet in carbohydrates, so you have to be very careful and strict when consuming it.
This syrup usually has 13g of carbohydrates per tablespoon, and this accounts to about half of the daily consumption of carbohydrates to remain in ketosis.
On the other hand, maple syrup is a nutritionally very dense sweetener containing a high amount of calcium, magnesium and zinc.
It’s also rich in some vitamins and antioxidants, but all these micronutrients can be found in several other healthier foods – such as fruits, vegetables and low-carbohydrate vegetables .
Avoid Agave Syrup
Agave syrup is generally a highly processed sweetener, although it is marketed as a natural alternative.
It can contain up to 80% fructose, which causes a big impact on our blood sugar levels.
As we already know, excessive consumption of fructose can be very harmful to health.
This syrup is made by crushing the agave plant until its sugars and fluids are extracted.
It is then processed under heat in a process similar to that of fructose-rich corn syrup.
Agave syrup is generally seen as a low-glycemic sweetener, but make no mistake: this only happens because it is composed primarily of fructose, which is harmful to your liver.
Its long-term consumption has also been associated with insulin resistance and chronically elevated blood sugar levels.
This is why it should be completely avoided, even in its natural state.
Abstract: Sweeteners to be avoided in the ketogenic diet
In summary, the main sweeteners to avoid in the low-carb and ketogenic diet are:
- corn syrup,
- sugar (whether demarcated, brown or organic),
- coconut sugar,
- fruit juice,
- maple syrup, and
- agave syrup
While many of them are considered “healthy” or “natural”, they are not so harmless – especially if you want to lower your carbohydrate intake and lose weight .
On the one hand, if you are going to have a junk food day, honey seems to be an alternative that at least has some nutrients.
On the other hand, all of these sweeteners mentioned above should be avoided in day to day life, particularly for those following a low-carb diet.
Conclusion And Final Words
In this article, I wanted to demystify one of the most confusing subjects for beginners on the low-carb or ketogenic diet: sweeteners.
While most people like the sweet taste, and there is no harm in consuming healthy sweets occasionally.
However, it is very important to understand that why we shouldn’t eat sweets every day – let alone at all meals.
After all, adopting a new lifestyle involves changing some old habits and customs – however ingrained they may be.
This includes cutting out sugar and the like.
That’s why it’s important to understand where the sweeteners fit into this equation: so you can make informed decisions about your health.
Now that you’ve read this article on sweeteners in the low-carb diet, I want to hear from you.
How do you use sweeteners on a day to day basis?
Tell us how you prepare desserts, and which sweeteners you prefer to use.
The space for comments below is totally yours. Comment there!
To your good health!
Some references consulted for writing this article are listed below.
About Luo Han Guo (fruit-of-monks):
About artificial sweeteners (saccharin, sucralose and others):