Keto sweeteners fall into several different categories, with some options being healthier than others. Several objectives go into selecting the right sugar replacement, including avoiding blood sugar spikes, getting the right taste and texture, and keep the cost low.
Fortunately, several sugar alternatives are suitable for a keto diet, with low to no calories or net carbs. When you get into keto baking, you may find that combining sweeteners will help to achieve the desired flavor and texture. As far as cost goes, I usually use a homemade “Truvia” recipe – stevia extract added to erythritol granules.
The three basic categories of keto sweeteners are:
- Sugar alcohols (includes xylitol and erythritol)
- Natural sugars (includes stevia, allulose and monk fruit)
- Artificial sweeteners (includes sucralose and saccharin)
Here’s a quick rundown of each:
Erythritol: This sugar alcohol is 70% as sweet as sugar. Erythritol is typically combined with other low carb sweeteners to achieve the same level of sweetness as table sugar. While there is generally no aftertaste, there is a slight cooling sensation in the mouth when erythritol is used alone.
Erythritol can cause gastrointestinal distress if consumed in large quantities, but is generally considered safe. Click here to learn more about the pros and cons of using erythritol.
Xylitol: Like erythritol, xylitol is a sugar alcohol, which can mean digestive upset when consumed in large amounts. Unlike erythritol, xylitol does contain some calories – about 1/2 as many as sugar – and is just as sweet as table sugar. NOTE: Keep xylitol away from pets; for them, this sweetener is toxic and it can even be fatal to dogs.
Stevia: Stevia is the sweetener that is most frequently combined with erythritol, especially for baking. Top rated pure stevia powder are available from brands like Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value and Stevia Select. These powdered extracts come in 1 oz. bottles and are 200-400 times sweeter than sugar; a little goes a long way. Stevia packets (like SweetLeaf) and liquid drops (like NOW Foods Better Stevia Glycerite (contains glycerine and is less bitter)), are available and are primarily used in hot or cold beverages or to be sprinkled on foods.
No matter the form, check the label of stevia products to determine if other ingredients have been added. Labels will also typically have conversion and/or equivalency charts.
Monk Fruit Extract: A relatively new sweetener which has become popular for keto baking is luo han guo, better known as monk fruit. The extract contains chemical compounds called mogrosides, which make the fruit 100-250 times sweeter than sugar. Although you can find 100% monk fruit extract, it is usually added to erythritol and sold under brand names like Lakanto. The combination contains zero calories and zero net carbs. Make sure to read the label before you buy to make sure that there are no unexpected additives. Monk fruit, either alone or combined, can leave a bit of an aftertaste. Click to learn more about monk fruit extract.
Sucralose (Splenda): Highly touted by Dr. Atkins in the 1970’s, Splenda was a much safer alternative to the other sugar substitutes available at the time, which included saccharin and aspartame. Perfect for a keto diet, Splenda does not raise your blood sugar. Splenda is 600 times as sweet as sugar.
Swerve, Truvia and ZSweet: These zero-calorie sweetener blends have added intense extracts like stevia and monk fruit to erythritol (e.g. Truvia and Lakanto, respectively) in order to produce the same level of sweetness found in sugar. Swerve, mentioned above, also contains oligosaccharides (prebiotic fibers from non-GMO corn and starchy root vegetables) and natural citrus flavor. Buy Swerve in granular, powered and brown “sugar” varieties. All of these brands are easily found online and are widely available in stores.
Homemade Truvia Recipe
Simply add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of powdered stevia extract (depending on your sweet tooth), to one cup of erythritol. Put in a large jar with a tight lid and shake well to distribute. That’s all there is to it. I use Trader Joe’s Organic Stevia Extract with Anthony’s Erythritol. Another good option is Now Better Stevia Organic Sweetener.
Hopefully, this brief primer served as a good introduction to keto sweetener options. Check out this video from ruled.me for a more in-depth look at the best and worst keto sweeteners.
Have you tried any of these best-selling low carb or keto sweeteners? Click the links to rate and comment.
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Stevia Extract Powder
- Anthony’s Natural Erythritol Sweetener
- Anthony’s Xylitol Sweetener – Made from Birch
- Health Garden Monk Fruit Sweetener, Classic
- It’s Just – 100% Monkfruit Extract Powder
- Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener, 1:1 Sugar Substitute
- Monk Zero – Monk Fruit Sweetener
- Now Better Stevia Organic Sweetener
- NOW Foods Better Stevia Liquid Glycerite
- NOW Foods Xylitol – Pure with No Added Ingredients
- Splenda No Calorie Sweetener
- Stevia Select 100% Organic Powder
- SweetLeaf Natural Stevia Sweetener
- SweetLeaf Organic Stevia Extract
- Swerve Sweetener – Granular, Confectioners and Brown
- Trader Joe’s Organic Stevia Extract
- Truvia Natural Stevia Sweetener