But even the most delicious keto-approved meals can be heightened by the promise of a sweet dessert after. And if you’re a coffee drinker, you might find it much easier to start keto if you don’t have to switch to drinking black coffee.
This is when having a keto sweetener on hand can help you stick to your diet. You’ll be able to stay in ketosis and satisfy your sweet tooth.
What Makes A Keto Sweetener?Keto-approved sweeteners add sweetness to food or drink without knocking you out of ketosis.
Sugar and some artificial sweeteners elevate blood sugar and trigger the release of the hormone insulin. This prevents you from reaching ketosis, a natural state where your body uses ketones to burn fat as a primary fuel source.
Eating too much sugar leads to obesity, reduced insulin sensitivity, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases[*]. The research on excessive sugar consumption is one of the main reasons low-carb diets like keto have become popular in the last 15 years.
However, one hang-up of low-carb diets like keto is some people feel restricted by their food options. After all, lots of foods—and not just junk food—contain sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Low-carb sweeteners allow you to occasionally enjoy sweet stuff without starting over.
Can I Use Sugar-Free Sweeteners Every Day?The answer to this depends on the sweetener.
Sugar alcohols, like maltitol and xylitol, often cause bloating and indigestion, so while you technically could consume them every day, it’s probably not a great idea, as you’ll likely not feel your best.
Natural keto sweeteners, like the ones listed below, are generally easier on the digestive system and more acceptable.
Build your keto diet around healthy, wholesome foods and save the sweet stuff for special occasions.
The 4 Best Sugar-Free Keto SweetenersThere are advantages and disadvantages to every sugar-free sweetener. While all of them have zero or barely any calories in them, there are differences worth noting.
Below, we look at the benefits, side-effects, and most likely ways you’d use a sugar-free sweetener while losing weight on keto.
1. SteviaOur guess is that if you’ve heard of one keto sweetener, it’s stevia. Stevia, or stevia rebaudiana, is a whole-leaf sweetener found in most coffee shops and grocery stores.
The reason you may have heard of stevia is that it’s a non-nutritive sweetener, meaning it has nearly zero calories. It was one of the first calorie-free sweeteners on the scene and grew in popularity quickly.
Benefits of SteviaThe major benefit of stevia is that it has basically no calories and does not raise blood glucose, meaning it can help you lose weight.
(Although you should track both macros and calories if you’re trying to lose weight).
While it has no calories, one study did find stevia helps people feel full longer[*]. The ketogenic diet is known for the same thing, so at least you won’t be hungry while you’re on your diet.
One other study found that stevia may help reduce cholesterol[*].
Side Effects of SteviaThe purest form of stevia is considered safe, but there are different forms of stevia on the market.
While stevia was first on the scene, it has changed a lot over the years.
Today, stevia products on the shelves at grocery stores vary and are often blends of more than one sugar-free sweetener (sometimes erythritol, also on this list, and sometimes less healthy ones).
Keep this in mind—and read the labels carefully—when grocery shopping.
When Would I Use Stevia on Keto?Stevia products go well in coffee, smoothies, and full-fat yogurt on keto. You might be able to replace it for sugar in baked goods, but not as a one-to-one substitute. Check out our keto dessert recipes for ideas.
2. Monk FruitMonk fruit sweetener is a sugar alternative made from dried monk fruit extract. Like stevia, it has zero calories and carbs and does not raise blood glucose, making it perfect for a keto dieter[*].
Benefits of Monk FruitOf the four sweeteners on this list, monk fruit is easily the most natural sugar-free sweetener.
The extract comes from real fruit indigenous to China and Thailand and actually gets its sweetness from antioxidants inside the fruit[*].
Side Effects of Monk FruitMonk fruit is still a relatively new sweetener. You can buy it online, but may not be able to find it in your local grocery store. And even if you find it online, it’ll be more expensive because of how difficult it is to grow and harvest.
There are no known side effects to using monk fruit sweetener, besides common things like bloating or gas. Basically, if you can find it, go for it.
When Would I Use Monk Fruit on Keto?Of the options on this list, monk fruit is probably the most versatile sugar-free sweetener you’ll find. You can bake with it, use it in your coffee, or use it in sauces and dips that normally call for sugar.
Your body doesn’t technically digest sugar alcohols but passes them through where they are then digested by bacteria.
Benefits of ErythritolLike stevia and monk fruit sweetener, this sugar alcohol is considered an excellent sugar-free alternative for people trying to lose weight or manage diabetes.
As a sugar alcohol, erythritol only contains 6 percent of the calories that regular sugar does. What’s even more interesting is it maintains up to 70 percent of the sweetness.
And it’s one of only a handful of sugar-free sweeteners that have been extensively tested in studies and shown to have few, if any, harmful side effects.
Side Effects of ErythritolErythritol, like other sugar-free sweeteners, may cause indigestion and bloating if consumed in excess.
Be sure to read labels carefully because erythritol is commonly mixed with other less healthy, artificial sweeteners.
When Would I Use Erythritol on Keto?Put it in your coffee or tea. People have had mixed experiences with using it for baked goods—stick with xylitol, our next keto sweetener, instead.
4. XylitolThe final option on this list is another sugar alcohol called xylitol. Like erythritol, the chemical structure of xylitol is similar to sugar but has almost no calories and does not raise blood glucose.
Still, because your taste receptors recognize the chemical structure, you taste sweetness when you add it to foods and drinks.
Benefits of XylitolXylitol technically comes from natural sources, like birch trees or a plant called xylan[*].
Actually, xylitol is considered one of the only sweeteners that actually comes with health benefits. Studies have shown xylitol improves dental health, which is one reason you might see it listed on the ingredients in a pack of sugar-free gum[*].
Side Effects of XylitolLike the others on this list, xylitol might cause stomach bloating or gas.
Pet lovers should be very careful about keeping this sugar alcohol in the house. Xylitol may be okay for humans but is highly toxic to dogs. Don’t go sharing your keto sweet treats with your pup if there’s xylitol in them.
When Would I Use Xylitol on Keto?Xylitol makes replacing sugar in your favorite recipes easy because it can be exchanged one-for-one with sugar. Put it in your coffee, tea, or keto desserts.
Ready For Something Sweet?Sugar-free sweeteners help you stick to your diet without spiking blood sugar or packing on extra calories. You probably shouldn’t use them all the time, but they’re there when you need them.
If these sugar-free sweeteners have you thinking about low-carb desserts, head over to KetoLogic’s dessert recipes section. From keto chocolate to keto smoothies, to keto-friendly holiday desserts, we’ve got something to satisfy your sweet tooth and help you stick to your diet.