Vitality

5 Best Sweeteners For Keto Dieters

The foundation of the keto diet is based on the avoidance of carbohydrates and sugar to prevent food from converting to blood glucose. Extra weight is gained and stored as body fat in the process of eating too many carbs. But when carbs and sugar are restricted, the fat consumed and stored is automatically used to burn energy, resulting to weight loss. 

Proponents of the diet say it may sometimes be difficult to not flirt with the idea of having some 'cheat days'. So, a little leeway can be exercised by adding natural sweeteners to tea or coffee and desert. 

When this urge to indulge strikes, artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose) should not be confused with natural sweeteners because that could defeat the purpose of the keto diet. Though natural sweeteners are made from natural plant-based sources, it is important to check their glycemic index to ensure it is zero so it won't increase blood sugar. Here are some of the healthy natural sweeteners to consume on the keto diet. 

Stevia

Derived from the stevia plant’s leaves, stevia sweeteners are at level zero on the glycemic index scale, with five net carbs and 20 calories per 100 grams. The quantity consumed must be very little because stevia is 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar.  Nutritionists warn against using stevia while on blood pressure medication since adding it is known to lower blood pressure and can also interfere with medication. 

Even pregnant women and those trying to conceive need to inform their doctor if they are substituting sugar with stevia, since it can act as a contraceptive too. Consuming the pure extract is a safer option because there are chemically processed varieties out there. Some experts even suggest using it in liquid form. 

Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is another sweetener that easily complements the keto diet, which falls at zero on the glycemic index scale. It is derived from a plant native in China and Thailand. Monk fruit is a versatile ingredient that can be added to teas, smoothies, deserts and any recipe that needs sugar. 

Sometimes, monk fruit tends to be mixed with other kinds of sugars like dextrose or sucrose, hence Jessica Cording, a registered dietician, said that people should read the label on the products they purchase. 

Erythritol

Dr. Axe refers to erythritol as a natural sugar alcohol that holds 5 grams of net carbs for every 100 grams. Its got about 80 percent of the sweetness of traditional sugar, but only 5 percent of its calories. 

Erythritol can be sometimes used with added sweeteners, hence checking the label is mandatory to ensure it is not mixed with artificial sweeteners. It should be used in moderation with adding a little bit of stevia while on the keto diet. 

It can be used in place of sugar for baking and cooking although it can't be dissolved as much as regular sugar. Cording told Mind Body Green, “This one has about 4 grams of carbs per teaspoon, which can quickly cut into the allowable amount of carbs per day on a keto diet." 

Inulin

Inulin is said to be ten times less sweeter than table sugar. It is a versatile ingredient that can replace sugar and flour during baking since it can absorb water and acts as an emulsifier. About half a cup holds 150 calories, has zero GI and 1 net carb, hence it is an extremely healthy additive. Additionally, it feeds good bacteria in the gut. 

Yacon Syrup

Yacon syrup measures only 1 on the GI scale so it does not contribute to raising blood sugar levels. Nutritionists still advise consuming 1 teaspoon at the most or less. It can be purchased at the local grocery store and online, too. The natural sweetener is a product of yacon plant’s root and has a healthy amount of prebiotics that help the growth of good bacteria in the gut. 

Precautions

A few artificial sweeteners have many side effects such as kidney damage, weight gain and headaches. While, some natural sweeteners can disturb ketosis due to their carb content. 

A list provided by Dr. Axe of all the artificial and natural sweeteners to avoid are aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame, saccharin,  xylitol, maltodextrin, polydextrose, truvia, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, dates, blackstrap molasses and agave nectar. 

Artificial Sweeteners Certain natural sweeteners measuring zero on the hypoglycemic index scale with a few calories can be used to substitute sugar. Photo courtesy of Flickr, frankieleon

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