KETO-FRIENDLY SWEETENER

Sugar-Free or Low-Carb Sweetener

On my quest to discover all keto-friendly sweeteners across the United States, I found over 300 products. I list them here in two groups:

ZERO CALORIE & KETO

< 5 cal per serving.

0 to 100 cal per cup.

Sugar Free. 

 
Stevia | Pure Extract
Stevia leaf extracts are food ingredients with GRAS status. The leaf extracts go through a great deal of processing and purification until they become palatable and free of impurities. They provides zero calories and are 200 to 400 times sweeter than table sugar. Find here brands of pure stevia leaf extract, with no fillers or additives.
Stevia | Liquid
Stevia leaf extracts are food ingredients with GRAS status. The leaf extracts go through a great deal of processing and purification until they become palatable and free of impurities. They provides zero calories and are 200 to 400 times sweeter than table sugar. Find here brands of liquid stevia. The most common carriers include glycerine, erythitol, alcohol, and cellulose. Some are sold as dietary supplements and allow health claims on labels.
Stevia | with Erythritol
Stevia leaf extracts are food ingredients with GRAS status. The leaf extracts go through a great deal of processing and purification until they become palatable and free of impurities. They provides zero calories and are 200 to 400 times sweeter than table sugar. Find here a variety of brands of stevia-erythritol blend.
Stevia | with Inulin
Stevia leaf extracts are food ingredients with GRAS status. The leaf extracts go through a great deal of processing and purification until they become palatable and free of impurities. They provides zero calories and are 200 to 400 times sweeter than table sugar. Find here a variety of brands of stevia-inulin blend.
Stevia | with Xylitol
Stevia | with Allulose or Tagatose
tagatose vs allulose | allulose fodmap | crystalline allulose
Stevia | Cubes & Tablets
Stevia cubes and tablets contain stevia leaf extract plus other ingredients such as erythritol, glucose, or cellulose. Each cube or tablet is as sweet as one teaspoon of table sugar.
Stevia | Dried Leaf
The whole-leaf Stevia is dried, cut, and turn into a green powder. It has a very mild sweet taste and does not dissolve well. Extracts (highly refined with > or = 95% purity) from the leaf are approved by the FDA but the leaves itself are not due to inadequate toxicological information.
Stevia | Brown & Powdered
What is stevia brown sugar substitute | stevia brown sugar | stevia brown sugar blend | stevia brown
Stevia | Monk Fruit Blend
Stevia is the term used to refer to steviol glycosides (highly refined extracts from the leaves of the stevia plant). 
Monk fruit is the term used to refer to mogrosides (extracts obtained from the luo han guo fruit)
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Monk Fruit | Pure Extract
Monk Fruit | Liquid
Monk fruit, also called luo han guo fruit, is a small green fruit of the Chinese plant Siraitia grosvenorii Swingle. The sweet components in the fruit, referred to as mogrosides, are 230 to 425 times sweeter than table sugar.
Monk Fruit | with Erythritol
Monk fruit, also called luo han guo fruit, is a small green fruit of the Chinese plant Siraitia grosvenorii Swingle. The sweet components in the fruit, referred to as mogrosides, are 230 to 425 times sweeter than table sugar.
Monk Fruit | with Inulin
Monk fruit, also called luo han guo fruit, is a small green fruit of the Chinese plant Siraitia grosvenorii Swingle. The sweet components in the fruit, referred to as mogrosides, are 230 to 425 times sweeter than table sugar.
Monk Fruit | with Allulose & Tagatose
Monk Fruit | Powdered & Golden
Monk Fruit | Packets
Allulose
Allulose sugar substitutes | Allulose 1:1 Sugar Replacement | Allulose with Stevia | Allulose with Monk Fruit | Allulose with Erythritol |
Erythritol
Pure Erythritol | Erythritol Granulated | Crystallized Erythritol | Powdered Erythritol | Confectioners Erythritol | Confectioner's Erythritol | Powdered Sugar Replacement | Table Sugar Replacement
Miracle Fruit
Miracle Fruit extract (or Miraculin) is a protein extracted from the African berry, Synsepalum dulcificum (or Richardella dulcifica). It does not taste sweet but is able to transform acidic flavors into sweet. It can enhance the sweetness of low pH (acid) foods and beverages to become 200 to 800 times sweeter than table sugar. Not approved as a food ingredients by the FDA, but the extract is sold in tablets or you can buy the frozen fruit.
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Natural Sweetener | Liquid
Artificial Sweetener | Liquid
Aspartame
Aspartame is a high intensity sweetener that, being a protein, provides 4 Calories/g. But since it can be up to 400 times sweeter than table sugar, it is used in such small amounts that contributes few to no calories (200g or ~ 1 cup of table sugar can be replaced by 1g of aspartame). It is approved by the FDA as a nutritive sweetener.
Saccharin
Saccharin is a salt around 200 to 700 times sweeter than table sugar. It provides no calories as it is not metabolized and is excreted in urine. It has noe effect on bood glucose. It may be combined with other sweeteners (such as glucose) or bulking agents (such as maltodextrin) in commercial tabletop sweeteners.
Sucralose
Sucralose is made from table sugar in a process that changes its configuration into a compound around 600 times sweeter with no calories.
1:1 Sugar Replacement
Teaspoon for Teaspoon (tsp for tsp) Sweeteners are as sweet as table sugar and so, measure like it on a 1 to 1 ratio. One teaspoon of these sweeteners is equal in sweetness to one teaspoon of table sugar.
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REDUCED CALORIE & KETO

Low-digestible carbohydrates.

25 to 90% fewer calories than table sugar.

​Often less sweet than table sugar.

Offer digestive benefits and adverse effects.

Sugar Free.

 
Erythritol
Erythritol-based Sweeteners. Erythritol is a polyol or sugar alcohol - a type of carbohydrate that, unlike sugar, is not completely digested. It is less sweet than sugar (~70% the sweetness of regular sugar). It is promoted as a natural sweetener as is found in nature but is synthetically produced by fermentation or an electrochemical process. It is considered a zero-calorie sweetener as it provides 0.2 kcal/g.
Erythritol Blends
Xylitol
Xylitol is a polyol or sugar alcohol - a type of carbohydrate that, unlike sugar, is digested slowly, having little impact on blood sugar or insulin levels. Xylitol provides about half the calories of regular sugar (sucrose). Xylitol is the sweetest of the polyols and is as sweet as sucrose.
Xylitol Blends
These sweeteners contain xylitol blended with stevia, inulin, erythritol, or sucralose.
Xylitol is a polyol or sugar alcohol - a type of carbohydrate that, unlike sugar, is digested slowly, having little impact on blood sugar or insulin levels. Xylitol provides about half the calories of regular sugar (sucrose). Xylitol is the sweetest of the polyols and is as sweet as sucrose.
Sorbitol | Mannitol | Isomalt
Tabletop Sweeteners that contain carbohydrates that are slowly, partially, or not digested at all
Provide 25 to 90% fewer calories than sugars
Include polyols, rare sugars, and some dietary fibers.
Soluble Fiber | Inulin, FOS, IMO
May be oligossacharides or polysaccharides | Fructooligosacharides (FOS): a carbohydrate with linear chains of (< 9) fructoses.
Inulin (from Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, or agave): a carbohydrate with long chains of ( > 10) fructoses.
Isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO): a short-chain carbohydrate, produced from starch.
FOS, inulin & IMO have 1/2 the calories of table sugar and are prebiotics (are minimally digested in the small intestine and stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria)
Rare Sugars | Allulose & Tagatose
Rare sugars, as the name implies, are rare in nature but can be synthetically produced. Examples are allulose (aka D-psicose), D-xylose, and tagatose. They are slightly sweet; typically half as sweet as table sugar. (allulose is 70% as sweet as sugar). Their sweetness profile is very similar to table sugar. Are low in calories. Have low GI. D-xylose is a synthetic sugar produced from coconut shells, corn cobs, and other plants rich in hemicellulose.
1:1 Sugar Replacement
Are tabletop sweeteners that measure spoon-for-spoon (or cup-for-cup) like regular sugar,
and mantain some of sugar's role in baking
but with less calories.

When substituting this sweetener for sugar, consumer must substitute 'equal volume', not 'equal weight', because this sweetener is much lighter than sugar.

Do not contain sugars but have as main ingredient carbohydrates such as polysaccharides (often maltodextrin) and/or polyols.
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Quick Facts about the Keto Diet

  • The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, allows the body to produce ketones from fat. The liver converts fat into ketones. Ketones are an alternative fuel source for the body and brain, used when the main source of energy (glucose) is in short supply.

  • The keto diet is a very low-carbohydrate and very high-fat diet. It involves reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. When 60 to 80 percent of your daily calories come from fat, your body takes about one to three days to begin producing ketones, entering a metabolic state called ketosisWith very low blood sugar and insulin levels, fat burning increases dramatically. It it becomes easier to access fat cells to burn them off.

 

  • The keto diet is known for benefits such as weight-loss, increased energy, and better mental clarity, but it is not easy to stick to it. One of the essential factors of success on the keto diet is having the right foods around you, and sweeteners can be a helpful tool.

Glycemic Index of a Sweetener

  • A keto friendly sweetener has minimal to no effect on blood glucose levels. The glycemic index (GI) is the potential of a sweetener to increase blood glucose levels. Sweeteners containing carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion have high GI while those that break down slowly and release glucose slowly in the bloodstream have low GI. The glycemic index is a relative measure because it is relative to pure glucose, which is taken as 100. Sweeteners are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100. When 50g of a sweetener is compared to 50g of glucose, a GI > 70 is high, a GI of 56 - 69 is medium, and a GI < 55 is low. 

 

  • From the University of Sidney Glycemic Index database, medium to high GI sweeteners include table sugar (sucrose) with a GI of 67, honey has 44 to 78, and coconut sugar has a 54. Polyols have a low GI (lactitol = 3, xylitol = 7, maltitol = 26, sorbitol = 9) as they are not completely absorbed. Erythritol and soluble fibers (inulin, fructooligosaccharides) are not broken down or digested into glucose in the small intestine, but are fermented by gut microbiota in the large intestine. As a result they do not affect blood glucose level and trigger a minimal glycemic response. Their GI is almost 0. Rare sugars such as tagatose and allulose have GI of 3 and almost 0, respectively.

 

  • The GI does not tell you how high your blood sugar could go when you actually eat the sweetener. To understand a sweetener's complete effect on blood sugar, you need to know both how quickly it makes glucose enter the bloodstream and how much glucose per serving it can deliver. Another measure called the glycemic load (GL) does both. It gives you a more accurate picture of a sweetener's real-life impact on your blood sugar. For one serving of a sweetener, a GL > 20 is considered high, a GL of 11–19 is medium, and a GL < 10 is low. Table sugar, for example, has a high glycemic index (67). But a serving of table sugar (one teaspoon) has such a low carbohydrate (4g) content that its glycemic load is only 3. Ten teaspoons of sugar have a GL = 26.

Low-Carb not the Same as Low-GI

  • The GI and GL can be used as guidelines to help you find a keto friendly sweetener, but they make it more complicated to choose what to eat. Keto is a very low-carbohydrate diet with fewer than 50 grams of carbohydrates intake per day. And it can be as low as 20 grams. The total amount of carbohydrate and the serving size in a sweetener, rather than the GI and GL, can be an easier predictor if a sweetener is keto friendly or not (unless it contains polyols, allulose, and soluble fibers)

 

  • The term "low carb" is widely used but is not defined by law and may not be used in food labels. Low carb is about the quantity of carbohydrate, meaning a serving of the sweetener does not contain much carbohydrate at all. Splenda (maltodextrin + sucralose) is low carb, even though the filler (maltodextrin is a carbohydrate with a short chain of glucose) has a high GI (100). Sucralose has a GI of zero, zero calories, and no carbs. One serving (1 teaspoon) of Splenda has about 0.5g of carbohydrates, which is rounded to zero on the nutrition facts label.  

 

  • Stevia in the Raw (glucose + stevia leaf extract) is a low carb sweetener even though the filler glucose is high GI. One serving of this sweetener is a packet and it has less than one gram of carbohydrates. Like Splenda and Stevia in the Raw, most sweeteners available to you in stores are blends of a variety of ingredients but even if you pay attention to the labels, read the ingredients list, serving size, and total carbohydrates, it is not easy to be sure a sweetener is keto friendly or not. For your convenience, I sorted out keto-friendly sweeteners by spending hundreds of hours researching them so you don't have to. Hope that helps!

Net Carbs of Sweeteners

Some sweeteners are not sugar-free nor carbohydrate-free but are promoted as having zero "net carbs". The terminology net carbs does not have a legal definition, but it is not prohibited under federal law and is in fact often used by manufacturers to promote their sweeteners. If you are tracking your carbohydrate intake and their impact on blood sugar level - such as in the the keto diet - it is useful to know it.

  • Net carbs are the total amount of digestible carbohydrates in a serving of a sweetener. There are several types of carbohydrates and our body digests them differently. They may be completely, partially or not digested at all. So the total amount of carbohydrates is not always the same as the net carb. Sweeteners act in one the following ways: (1) affect blood glucose dramatically; (2) low or minimal effect on blood sugar levels, or (3) no impact on blood sugar. Sugars (table sugar, honey, maple syrup) have a high glycemic response. Sugars alcohols (except erythritol) are slow-digestible or low-digestible carbs and so, are low glycemic sweeteners. Erythritolallulose, and dietary fibers are non-digestible carbohydrates and have no glycemic response. 

 

  • Net carbs are also referred as "available carbohydrates" or "counting carbohydrates". The net carbs of a sweetener are calculated by subtracting carbohydrates that have a low glycemic response from the total carbohydrates listed on the nutrition label. See image below for the formula.

  • Note that sugar alcohols are not completely subtracted, with the exception of erythritol. Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol that the body cannot digest into glucose at all (learn why here) so you subtract the total amount.

 

  • Keep in mind that a meaningful net carbs value may only be obtained in the actual food your consume with the sweetener and calculating the glycemic response in accordance with the actual serving size of the food.     

 

  • Example: Sola brand of sweeteners is promoted as having "0 grams of net carbs" but contains three sweet carbohydrates. Two are sugar alcohols (erythritol and maltitol) and one is a rare sugar called tagatose. Erythritol (2.5g) is not metabolized into glucose and, as a result, has a GI of zero. Maltitol (0.5g) does impact blood glucose levels but not dramatically.  Tagatose (1g) is a rare sugar that is not completely metabolized (provides 1.5 calories per gram; versus 4 calories per gram of regular sugars). Tagatose minimally affects the glycemic level. Therefore, Sola contains 4 g of carbs (1g of tagatose + 2.5g erythritol + 0.25g maltitol) but almost zero net carbs. Net carbs = 4 - (1+2.75) = 0.25 grams, which is rounded to zero by the manufacturer. 

SWEETENERS TO AVOID


 

I list below sweeteners that are not keto-friendly:

  • Sugars, also known as simple carbohydrates, are the smallest and simplest type of carbohydrates. They are easily digestible and absorbed by your body, and even though some have a low GI (fructose = 19), they are NOT keto friendly:  

 

Sugars (also known as Caloric Sweeteners)

Blends with Less Sugar (Reduced-Sugar Sweeteners)

  • Be aware of zero calorie sweeteners with fillers such as maltodextrin or glucose. They contain minimal amount of carbohydrates per serving but they are NOT keto friendly if you are having too much of it. 

Stevia with Maltodextrin and/or Sugars

Monk Fruit with Maltodextrin and/or Sugars 

Aspartame with Maltodextrin and/or Glucose 

Saccharin with Maltodextrin and/or Glucose

Sucralose with Maltodextrin and/or Glucose

Copyright © 2020  WhatSugar Blog by Adriane Campos 

Everywhere in the USA | Based in Richmond,VA | Email me at info@whatsugar.com

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