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Keto Sweeteners – The Good and Bad

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With so many to choose from it’s hard to know with keto sweeteners, the good and the bad. Learn more to educate yourself which is the wisest choice for you!

Having been keto for quite some time now I have tried a lot of the sweeteners and have my own opinions on them.

Read on for more information on the different groups of sweeteners, their taste profile and the affects on blood sugar and ketones.

ketone meter reader

Keto Sweeteners 

The good news is there are some natural sweeteners that are low to no carb with little to no affects to insulin and blood sugar levels.

More good news is that many of these of these sweeteners are being made more readily available in local supermarkets.

So let’s have a look at some of the ones best to use.

Stevia

Stevia is a natural keto sweetener that is derived from the leaves of a plant. Highly processed it is many times the sweetness of sugar.

The active compounds of stevia are steviol glycosides. The body does not metabolise glycosides so this makes it a zero calorie, zero calorie sweetener. 

Stevia does have an aftertaste that is slightly bitter. It is available in powdered, granular and liquid form e.g. SweetLeaf Drops or SweetLeaf Sweetener.

Because of the level of sweetness and its carb value stevia is often found combined with other sweeteners like erythritol.

Sweeteners like like Sukrin:1, Natvia, Pyure, Truvia and Natural Mate.

stevia in a wood bowl with a wood spoon

Allulose

Allulose also known as pseudo-fructose is classed as a “rare sugar” because it is naturally present in only a few foods like maple syrup, figs and dried fruit.

It is a monosaccharide, or single sugar. Allulose has the same chemical formula as fructose, but is different in structure.

This difference prevents the body from metabolising the allulose into glucose, the same as fructose.

Not only making this another zero calorie calorie low carb sweetener but also with little to no affect on insulin or glucose levels.

The sweetener passes through the body and is eliminated through urine.

Allulose looks the same as sugar but is only 70% the sweetness of sugar, but behaves much the same in cooking as sugar. 

While the FDA has approved the use of allulose in baked goods in the US and for individual sale, it has yet to be approved in Australia.

So for now we have to wait.

Monkfruit

Monkfruit is derived from the monkfruit. It is available in granular form in both white or gold sweetener, as well as liquid form.

Monkfruit can be from 100 x 300 times the sweetness of sugar depending on the form you use.

So it best to experiment with small amounts of the liquid keto sweetener, and powders. 

Because of the additional sweetness in Monkfruit like stevia it is often blended with erythritol to create a sweetener similar to table sugar.

These blends of keto sweeteners are available from brands such as Lakanto, Raw Earth and Sukrin Monkfruit. This sweetener has very little aftertaste.

Monkfuit is another natural keto sweetener that is better health choice due to its its zero carb and calories, as well as minimal affects on insulin and glucose. 

Monkfruit cut in half

Inulin

Many of you will know this sweetener as I use it in baking.

Inulin is a prebiotic fibre with three prebiotics that can provide health benefits.

The three prebiotics are fructooligosaccharide (FOS) oligofructose, and galactooligosaccharide (GOS).

Derived from the chicory root inulin is a mildly sweet dietary fibre that is often found combined with other sweeteners like Swerve.

It can impart a creaminess in a recipe and a mild sweetness when used in small doses.

If used in large doses it can cause a little bit of discomfort with tummy troubles.

Inulin can give a feeling of fullness and help to reduce calorie intake. It also seems to lower glucose and insulin levels after meals.

I love using inulin as a low carb sweetener as unlike the others it can be used to activate yeast, while stevia and sugar alcohols cannot. 

Sugar Alcohols

Erythritol

Erythritol is one of my favourites.

Whether it is mixed with a bit of stevia or a monkfruit blend I find it works great in baking and has little to no significant aftertaste.

Erythritol looks like sugar and in many of the recipes I create acts like a sugar as well.

It should be noted that after baking or heating erythritol will re-crystallise over time.

It will firm up anything that has been baked or heated with it as an ingredient. 

Erythritol is derived from a few natural plants. It is highly processed to result in a sweetener very much like table sugar but only around 70% of the sweetness.

It has no affect on insulin and glucose and is a sweetener with no laxative affect.

Erythritol is a zero carb keto sweetener. Available from brands like Swerve, Sukrin, Keto Eats and Now Foods.

Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that can impact glucose and insulin production. While it tastes close to sugar and works well in baking, with its affect on insulin I do not use it. 

Xylitol is also highly toxic to dogs.

With my Stormy watching my every move I would and could not risk it.

The smallest amount can kill the biggest of dogs. So this sweetener is off the cards for me.

I would however love to know why so many keto products are being produced using it.

There are other sweeteners that can be used in bars, chocolates and baked goods that have zero carbs and zero affect on blood glucose and insulin.

So why do they continue to use it?

Maltitol

A sugar alcohol that is NOT keto friendly! Even testing on myself I have found that maltitol kicks me out of ketosis. 

Maltitol is 75-90% as sweet as sugar. It has very little to no aftertaste and is found in many protein and keto bars.

It should be noted that maltitol can affect blood glucose and is not recommended for diabetics. Maltitol also can cause gastro discomfort and have a laxative affect. Definitely a bad keto sweetener. Give this one a miss where you can.

different sweeteners on spoons

Fiber Syrups

Fiber syrups are made from a plant fibre called isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO). IMOs have been shown to affect blood glucose levels in individuals. This product should be monitored if you are a diabetic or insulin resistant.

A small amount of steviol glycosides is added to obtain the same sweetness of sugar. 

The gold syrup does contain malt extract for colour and flavour. The product has no artificial colours, additives or preservatives and substitutes honey/sugar 1:1.

Fiber Syrups are pretty comparable in cooking to golden syrup and glucose syrup or honey.

I use them as the same ingredient when creating keto dessert recipes, or a keto Asian influenced sauce for example. Available from Sukrin or (Vitafiber or FibreYum – US only).

Maple Flavoured Syrups

Several brands have released maple flavoured syrups.

These syrups contain no actual maple syrup but contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose and another sugar alcohol sorbitol.

These sweeteners can cause blood sugar spikes and affect ketone levels.

While low calorie and low carb they come complete with lots of additives. Use with caution or not at all if diabetic.

Artificial Sweeteners 

Without going into them all if they aren’t on the good list above don’t bother!

Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin and many more are not worth your time.

Yes many are zero calorie but none of them are good for you. 

I am sure I will continue to add to this list but just like a keto green list of foods, if it isn’t on here with a great write up then exercise caution.

We should all try and reduce sweeteners where we can.

But for the fun of recipe development and the enjoyment of something sweet and delicious, I will continue to test them all out. It seems keto bought out a sweet tooth in me. For recipes using these sweeteners mentioned you can just use the search button and type in any ingredient for a recipe.

If you have any sweeteners or products you would like to know more about then please leave a comment below to let me know.

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6 responses to “Keto Sweeteners – The Good and Bad”

  1. Sally says:

    Thanks Megan I did not know that about Xylitol and the deadly effect it has on dogs I will not buy that anymore. Where can I get Inulin from? Cheers Sally

  2. vonny says:

    Hi Megan, I read your report on “sweeteners” do you have any comment on “Yacon” powder or syrup, i have read it has great benefits.
    I cannot seem to get a sweetener that comes close to the taste of sugar, that i dont need 2 tsp. in cup of coffee, or has an after taste.
    I have tried Stevia, Monkfruit, Xylitol, Swerve you name it ive tried it and are tempted to go back to
    using “Equal”. Any suggestions please.

    • Megan says:

      Hi Vonny, Yacon syrup passes through the body undigested and shoould be fine. Due to the high carb content (even though not absorbed I kind of left it off) I am happy to add it back at some point when I am not quite as under the pump as I am now. You could test it out and see how you go by monitoring ketones.

  3. Judy Wilson says:

    Thank you, Megan, for taking the time to write this up. It’s very helpful and confirms some of my suspicions about the effects on blood sugar levels.

    • Megan says:

      Thanks for your feedback Judy. It is better if we all educate ourselves and do what is best for us. As I continue on this path and get older I am trying to find the best ingredients to use. I will try and keep abreast of all the information out there and share.

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