Best Sweeteners on a Low-Carb Keto Diet (And 6 to Avoid)
Following a ketogenic diet involves cutting back on high-carb foods like starches, desserts and processed snacks.
This is essential to reaching a metabolic state called ketosis, which causes your body to begin breaking down fat stores instead of carbs to produce energy.
Ketosis also requires reducing sugar consumption, which can make it challenging to sweeten beverages, baked goods, sauces and dressings.
Fortunately, there are various low-carb sweeteners that you can enjoy.
Here are the 6 best sweeteners for a low-carb keto diet — plus 6 you should avoid.
Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant.
It’s considered a nonnutritive sweetener, which means that it contains little to no calories or carbs (1Trusted Source).
Unlike regular sugar, animal and human studies have shown that stevia may help lower blood sugar levels (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
Stevia is available in both liquid and powdered form and can be used to sweeten everything from drinks to desserts.
However, because it’s much sweeter than regular sugar, recipes require less stevia to achieve the same flavor.
For each cup (200 grams) of sugar, substitute only 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of powdered stevia.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is not metabolized, meaning it passes through your body undigested and thus doesn’t provide calories or carbs (4Trusted Source).
Splenda is the most common sucralose-based sweetener on the market and popular because it lacks the bitter taste found in many other artificial sweeteners (5Trusted Source).
While sucralose itself is calorie-free, Splenda contains maltodextrin and dextrose, two carbs that supply about 3 calories and 1 gram of carbs in each packet (6Trusted Source).
Unlike other types of sweeteners, sucralose is not a suitable substitute for sugar in recipes that require baking.
Some studies have found that sucralose could produce harmful compounds when exposed to high temperatures (7Trusted Source, ).
Instead, use sucralose as a low-carb way to sweeten drinks or foods like oatmeal and yogurt and stick to other sweeteners for baking.
Splenda can be substituted for sugar in a 1:1 ratio for most recipes.
However, pure sucralose is 600 times sweeter than regular sugar, so you’ll only need to use a tiny amount in place of sugar for your favorite foods
Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol — a class of naturally occurring compounds that stimulate the sweet taste receptors on your tongue to mimic the taste of sugar.
It’s up to 80% as sweet as regular sugar, yet it contains only 5% of the calories at just 0.2 calories per gram (10Trusted Source).
Additionally, though erythritol has 4 grams of carbs per teaspoon (4 grams), studies show that it may help lower blood sugar levels in your body (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
Moreover, due to its smaller molecular weight, it typically doesn’t cause the digestive issues associated with other types of sugar alcohols (14Trusted Source).
Erythritol is used in both baking and cooking and can be substituted for sugar in a wide variety of recipes.
Keep in mind that it tends to have a cooling mouthfeel and doesn’t dissolve as well as sugar, which can leave foods with a slightly gritty texture.
For best results, swap about 1 1/3 cups (267 grams) of erythritol for each cup (200 grams) of sugar.
Xylitol is another type of sugar alcohol commonly found in products like sugar-free gum, candies and mints.
It’s as sweet as sugar but contains just 3 calories per gram and 4 grams of carbs per teaspoon (4 grams) (4Trusted Source).
Yet, like other sugar alcohols, the carbs in xylitol don’t count as net carbs, as they don’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels to the extent sugar does (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
Xylitol can be easily added to tea, coffee, shakes or smoothies for a low-carb kick of flavor.
It also works well in baked goods but may require a bit of extra liquid in the recipe, as it tends to absorb moisture and increase dryness.
Because xylitol is as sweet as regular sugar, you can exchange it for sugar in a 1:1 ratio.
Note that xylitol has been associated with digestive problems when used in high doses, so scale back your intake if you notice any adverse effects
As its name implies, monk fruit sweetener is a natural sweetener extracted from the monk fruit, a plant native to southern China.
It contains natural sugars and compounds called mogrosides, which are antioxidants that account for much of the sweetness of the fruit (17Trusted Source).
Depending on the concentration of mogrosides, monk fruit sweetener can be anywhere between 100–250 times sweeter than regular sugar (18Trusted Source).
Monk fruit extract contains no calories and no carbs, making it a great option for a ketogenic diet.
The mogrosides may also stimulate the release of insulin, which can improve the transportation of sugar out of the bloodstream to help manage blood sugar levels (17Trusted Source).
Be sure to check the ingredients label when buying monk fruit sweetener, as monk fruit extract is sometimes mixed with sugar, molasses or other sweeteners that can alter the total calorie and carb content.
Monk fruit sweetener can be used anywhere you would use regular sugar.
The amount you use can vary between different brands based on what other ingredients may be included.
While some recommend substituting using an equal amount of monk fruit sweetener for sugar, others advise cutting the amount of sweetener in half.