Sugar substitutes for keto and low carb diets

Sugar substitutes for keto and low carb diets

Jack Roizman

What are the ideal sugar substitutes for keto and low carb diets?

The cornerstone of any low carb or ketogenic diet is restricting carbohydrates and that means limiting the sugars one consumes. Unless you have an iron will, reducing or eliminating sugars altogether can be a monumental challenge. Some people have described it as one of the most difficult things they have done, constantly being plagued with cravings brought on by the sites and smells of everyday life.

For many beginning the low carb journey, sugar substitutes can be a lifeline and the difference between pushing ahead with this way of eating or throwing in the towel. But not all sweeteners are created equal and choosing the right one for you can have just as big an impact on your staying on course or falling back into a carb rich diet.

 Let’s examine some good options and see how they can broaden your meal options.

Sugar substitutes suitable on a low carb or ketogenic diet include: 

  • Erythritol
  • Xylitol
  • Stevia
  • Monk fruit sweetener (extract)
  • Allulose

 

Erythritol 

Erythritol is a naturally occurring sweetener that is extracted from certain plants. It is classified as a sugar alcohol, although the term may be confusing as it is not alcohol. It is low calorie and has a zero glycaemic index making it a very popular sugar substitute for people looking for a low carb and keto sweetener. It’s about as 70% as sweet as sugar which means that you would use about 1.4 times as much erythritol as you would sugar. Erythritol is commonly used in cooking and baking and is found in a range of commercially made chocolates, baking mixes and condiments. We do love erythritol but like to mix it with some stevia to balance out any “cooling” effects/sensations. While it’s a great sweetener, if you eat too much erythritol it may give you a laxative effect. See the links below to some of our most popular erythritol-based sweeteners. 

Xylitol 

Xylitol is quite commonly found in keto friendly foods in Australia including chocolates, jams and sauces. Like erythritol, xylitol is a sugar alcohol, occurs naturally and is usually extracted from birch trees or corn (the xylitol sweetener we range is extracted from the birch tree and is certified non-GMO). Xylitol has a low glycaemic index, has about 40% less calories than sugar and is on par in sweetness to sugar so you can use it in a 1:1 ratio. As an ingredient it bakes well and mixes will into condiments without an aftertaste. We love xylitol, but beware not to overdo it so you don’t get an upset tummy and be sure to keep it away from pets as it is very toxic to dogs and cats. See the links below to some of our most popular xylitol-based sweeteners. 

Stevia 

Stevia is a natural sweetener that is extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. Being a natural extract, stevia actually consists of multiple active compounds - you may see some nutritional labels mentioning “steviol glycosides” which is the catch name for these compounds. Depending on the extract stevia can be at least 30 times sweeter than sugar (often many times more than that), making a little go a really long way. Keep in mind that while it is sweet, stevia doesn’t taste exactly like sugar and people describe its taste to be bitter or liquorice like. Stevia is therefore usually mixed with other sweeteners (we commonly see it blended with erythritol) to balance out its taste. Overall, we like stevia and especially using flavoured stevia products as a secondary sweetener. See the links below to some of our most popular stevia-based sweeteners.

Monk fruit sweetener 

Monk Fruit (also known as Luo han guo) is a sweet fruit native to southern China and northern Thailand. Monk fruit sweeteners use an extract from the fruit and can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar (so a very small amount goes a very long way). Monk fruit sweetener is great as it has zero carbs, zero calories and zero glycaemic index. Monk fruit is expensive but, as you only use a small amount, we think it’s totally worth it. We can’t wait for an amazing line up of new products coming out soon with monk fruit in Australia – so stay tuned. See the links below to some of our most popular monk fruit sweeteners.

Allulose 

Sadly, Allulose is not approved as a food in Australia and cannot be sold here. It is available in the US and is used in a number of commercially available low carb and keto-friendly products.

 

Remember that if you regularly check your ketones, sugar or insulin, it is recommended to continue to do so if you’re considering changing or trying new sweeteners. 

 

Frequently asked questions about sugar substitutes

What is the difference between xylitol and erythritol? 

Xylitol and erythritol are both naturally occurring sugar alcohols (not actually alcohol) extracted from plants. Here are some key differences for xylitol vs erythritol:

  • Xylitol is sweeter than erythritol – you can use xylitol in a 1:1 ratio as a sugar replacement vs 1.4:1 erythritol to sugar (i.e.: erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar)
  • Erythritol has a zero glycaemic index where as xylitol has a low glycaemic index
  • Some people find erythritol produces a cooling effect and like to balance it with a secondary sweetener such as stevia

What is the difference between stevia and erythritol? 

While stevia and erythritol are often used together as sweeteners, here are some key differences of stevia vs erythritol:

  • Stevia consists of a mixture of natural compounds called stevia glycosides naturally extracted from the leaves of a stevia plant while erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol
  • Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar while stevia is very potent and is at least 30 time the sweetness of sugar
  • Erythritol is a lot closer in taste to sugar whereas stevia is described as having a bitter taste

What is the difference between stevia and xylitol? 

While stevia and xylitol are both naturally occurring sweeteners, here are some key differences of stevia vs xylitol:

  • Stevia consists of a mixture of natural compounds called stevia glycosides naturally extracted from the leaves of a stevia plant while xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol
  • Xylitol is on par in sweetness to sugar so you can substitute it in a ratio of 1:1 but stevia is a lot sweeter (at least 30 time the sweetness of sugar) so a little goes a long way
  • Xylitol is a lot closer in taste to sugar whereas stevia is described as having a bitter taste

What is the difference between stevia and monk fruit? 

While both stevia and monk fruit sweetener are natural sweeteners extracted from, plants, here are a few key differences between stevia vs monk fruit sweetener:

  • Stevia is a natural sweetener that is extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant and consists of multiple active compounds called steviol glycosides, while monk fruit sweetener is extracted from the Luo han guo plant
  • Both are very sweet with stevia being at least 30 times the sweetness of sugar and monk fruit sweetener (in the concentrated form) being 300 times the sweetness of sugar

Where can I buy erythritol? 

You can buy erythritol in Australia and New Zealand from Low Carb Emporium

Where can I buy xylitol? 

You can buy xylitol in Australia and New Zealand from Low Carb Emporium

Where can I buy stevia? 

You can buy stevia in Australia and New Zealand from Low Carb Emporium

Where can I buy monk fruit sweetener? 

You can buy monk fruit sweetener in Australia and New Zealand from Low Carb Emporium

 

Our most popular sweeteners by ingredient 

Erythritol 

 Xylitol 

Stevia 

Monk fruit sweetener