The Best And Worst Low Carb Sweeteners
Most people that start a keto diet plan find that they have some intense cravings for sugar in the beginning, but will dissipate after a few weeks. Even the seasoned low carber will tell you that they have cravings every once in a while, sometimes burning inside them so deep they want to give up to temptation. That’s where sweeteners come in, where you can make or bake things you usually can’t eat. Of course, you will have to watch out because most things that say “carb free” actually still contain carbs. Make sure you take the net carbs of any impacting sweetener into consideration when tracking your macros. As a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to try to avoid sweeteners in the beginning. They’re well known to cause cravings and some may stall your progress with over-use. Stay strict and try to only occasionally consume sweet treats when you are on a low carb diet. Types of Sweeteners In general, there are a few classifications of sweeteners. There are natural sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and synthetic sweeteners (or artificial sweeteners). There are a few others that aren’t exactly classified in these categories (like glycerin based sweeteners) but they are quite uncommon and rarely used, so we’ll skip going over them. For a ketogenic diet, I personally suggest sticking with erythritol and stevia (or a blend) because they are both naturally occurring, don’t cause blood sugar or insulin spikes, and sweeten just perfectly. When used in combination, they seem to cancel out the aftertaste that each has, and work like a charm. When you purchase sweeteners, make sure to take a look at the ingredients on the packaging. You normally want the pure sweetener, rather than having fillers such as maltodextrin, dextrose, or polydextrose which can cause spik Continue reading >>
Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause An Insulin Spike?
178 Comments The notion that artificial sweeteners (and sweet tastes in general) might produce an insulin response is one of those murky memes that winds itself around the blogs, but it’s never stated one way or the other with any sort of confidence. I briefly mentioned the possibility of non-caloric sweeteners influencing satiety hormones in last week’s diet soda post, and a number of you guys mentioned the same thing. Still, I’ve never seen unequivocal evidence that this is the case. This whole idea first came to my attention some time ago when my dog Buddha got into a bottle of “alternative sleep assists” which contained, among other things, 5 HTP (version of l-tryptophan) and xylitol (sugar alcohol). Long story short, dogs can’t take xylitol because it causes a spike in insulin, which then severely depletes blood glucose. Buddha got past this with a trip to the vet’s at 10:30 Sunday night (thanks, Dr. Dean). But it occurred to me that the same effect might be seen in humans, which is why I pose the question today… Do artificial sweeteners induce insulin secretion (perhaps via cephalic phase insulin release, which is sort of the body’s preemptive strike against foods that will require insulin to deal with)? One of the reasons a definitive answer is rarely given is that the question is improperly framed. Artificial sweeteners is not a monolithic entity. There are multiple types of sweeteners, all of them chemically distinct from each other. A more useful question would be “What effect does [specific artificial sweetener goes here] have on insulin?” So let’s go around the circle and ask. Does aspartame (aka Equal and Nutrasweet) affect insulin? Aspartame is pretty gross stuff, what with its awful taste and hordes of people who get terrible react Continue reading >>
Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe For Ketosis?
Artificial sweeteners certainly have bad reputations among the health community. In the keto community only a few sweeteners have any love, and they are not labeled artificial sweeteners. However, we want to give you the facts and reasons for how artificial sweeteners affect ketosis so that you can make up your own mind. In our opinion at Keto Domain, artificial sweeteners are not a healthy option for people whether they are on the keto diet or not. But even though we don’t condone it, we understand that some people like diet coke (sweetened by artificial low or no calorie sweeteners) and they want to know if they can safely drink it on the keto diet. Artificial sweeteners are chemicals that have a sweet taste, usually much sweeter than regular sugar. They are not naturally found in foods. However, some artificial sweeteners do occur naturally in the body in their molecular form. You may be on the keto diet because you want to improve your health without additives or chemicals. If that is the case, you should not use aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-potassium or saccharin as a sweetener on the keto diet. But there are other reasons why you should not use artificial sweeteners when on the ketogenic diet. To examine the effects on ketosis, we look at the main artificial sweeteners in terms of changes in blood glucose and insulin levels, as well as caloric quantities. Aspartame Aspartame is a chemically derived sweetener. Aspartame is commonly found in foods like diet coke. It does contain 4 calories per gram, so it is not calorie free.[i] However, in one packet of Equal there is only 37 mg of aspartame which is 0.15 calories. A 12 oz can of diet coke contains about 200 mg of aspartame which is 0.8 calories. Aspartame has been found to be 180-200 times sweeter than sucro Continue reading >>
What Are The Side Effects Of Aspartame, Stevia, And Other Sugar Substitutes?
One quick update: Two weeks ago I was interviewed by the great folks at A Sweet Life. Their site is a great resource, especially for folks with diabetes, but really for everyone (I had the most incredible appetizer on their recommendation this past Sunday). Here’s a link to the interview. Ok, on to the issue of the week. Once you realize how harmful sugar is (by sugar, of course, I mean sucrose and high fructose corn syrup or HFCS, primarily, but also the whole cast of characters out there like cane sugar, beet sugar, dextrose, corn syrup solids, and others that masquerade as sugar), you inevitably want to understand the impact of substituting non-sugar sweeteners for sugar, should you still desire a sweet taste. If you’re not yet convinced sugar is a toxin, it’s probably worth checking out my post, Sugar 101, and the accompanying lecture by Dr. Lustig. Sugar is, tragically, more prevalent in our diets today than we realize – our intake of sugar today is about 400% of what it was in 1970. And it’s not just in the “obvious” places, like candy bars and soda drinks, where sugar is showing up, either. It’s in salad dressings, pasta sauces, cereals, “healthy” sports bars and drinks, low-fat “healthy” yogurt, and most lunch meats, just to name a few places sugar sneaks into our diet. I know some people have an aversion to aspartame (i.e., Nutrasweet, Equal) over sucrose (i.e., table sugar, sucrose, or HFCS). In other words they think Coke is “better” that Diet Coke because it uses “real” sugar instead of “fake” sugar. If you find yourself in this camp, but you’re now realizing “real” sugar is a toxin, this poses a bit of a dilemma. There are two things I think about when considering the switch from sugar to non-sugar substitute sweete Continue reading >>
Ketosis & Aspartame
The allure of low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diets is that they pay off quickly with rapid weight loss and tangible progress. Giving up all those tasty carbs, however, is tough. Artificial, calorie-free sweeteners can lessen any feelings of deprivation by boosting the flavor of your food. Before you add another spoonful of aspartame to your coffee or chug another diet soda, however, consider aspartame's impact on diets that induce ketosis. Video of the Day Ketosis is a metabolic state of starvation that occurs when your body is deprived of glucose, its primary fuel, and forced to burn fat as an alternative fuel. Many dieters have succeeded on a ketogenic diet because it does not require a lot of exercise and allows you to eat processed meats and other fatty foods not normally allowed on conventional diets. Ketogenic diets have been used successfully to decrease the risk of seizures in epileptic patients,. While scientists have yet to identify the mechanisms by which ketosis reduces epileptic seizures, they have given us a large body of research on the ketogenic response in the human body. The Ketogenic Diet According to the Epilepsy Foundation, ketosis is begun by a period of relative fasting that burns up nearly all available glucose circulating in the blood and stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. Once glucose has been depleted, the body is forced to tap into fat stores for energy. In this state, ketones are formed in the liver and released into the bloodstream, putting you in a state of ketosis. In this state, appetite is suppressed, making a ketogenic diet relatively easy to adhere to once the state of ketosis is induced. Ketogenic diets are typically high in fat, deriving upward of 80 percent of calories from dietary fat. Aspartame is a calorie-free artificial Continue reading >>
Is Truvia Sweetener Ok For Low-carb Diets?
Truvia is a granulated sugar substitute. I have tried many sweetener brands, but finally settled on Truvia as my preferred option. I now use it in all of my low-carb recipes. Lately, I’ve been getting lots of questions and comments about Truvia. There seems to be some confusion on whether it is suitable for low-carb dieters. Why some of us are confused about Truvia Truvia have several products in their range. Some are great for low-carb dieters, but some aren’t. All Truvia products are sold under the same brand name, and have similar looking packaging. So it is potentially confusing for us. Double check product names and nutritional information on the labels before buying. Here’s what you need to look out for. YES – Truvia Calorie-Free Sweetener Zero net carbs, PERFECT for low-carb diets This product comes in sachets, in a spoonable plastic pack, and in a pouch. It doesn’t contain any digestible carbs, and its net carb count is zero. So we can safely use it as part of a low-carb diet. The nutritional label does show some carbs, due to FDA regulations. However, these all come from erythritol and are not digestible (otherwise it wouldn’t be marked up as zero-calorie). The exact product name varies in different markets – I have seen it called “Calorie-Free Sweetener”, “Natural Zero Calorie Sweetener”, “Nature’s Calorie-Free Sweetener” etc. The keyword to look for is “calorie-free”. There is also a “zero calories” stamp on the packaging. NO – Truvia Nectar, Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, Truvia Baking Blend Contain sugar, NOT SUITABLE for low-carb diets Truvia range also includes products that contain Stevia blended with sugar – Truvia Brown Sugar Blend and Truvia Baking Blend, and with honey – Truvia Nectar. The sugar content is clearly Continue reading >>
For low carbers, artificial sweeteners often mean the difference between blowing your carb limit for the day, or safely satisfying a sweet craving. However, most powdered forms of fake sweeteners contain some sort of sugar based bulking agent, such as maltodextrin, or dextrose. This adds carbs, so if you use a packet, count it as one carb. Liquid artificial sweeteners are becoming more popular, as no bulking agent is needed. I don't particularly like to use artificial anything, but I've come to the conclusion that for my health and wellbeing, a little fake sweetener is better than a lot of sugar. If the idea of a chemical sweetener doesn't sit well, you may want to look into the category of sugar alcohol sweeteners. These do have calories and carbs, though the amounts are much smaller, and there is much reduced effect on blood sugars because they are absorbed slowly. Below is a list of some artificial sweeteners that can be used on a low carb diet. Be aware there is a great deal of controversy around these products, so you'll have to decide for yourself whether you want to use them. I've put together a list of the "pros and cons" for each. I am referring to the powdered version unless otherwise stated . Acesulfame Potassium Acesulfame Potassium, or Acesulfame K, is marketed under the brand names of Sunett or SweetOne. It's commonly used in soft drinks and commercial low sugar products, many times in conjunction with aspartame. It's 180 times sweeter than sugar, has zero calories, and has no effect on tooth enamel. Pros: Acesulfame K is stable under heat, and in moderately acidic or basic conditions, and it can be used in baking, and acidic liquids. It is also used as a flavor enhancer in non-food products such as gum and soft antacids. Cons: Some studies with rats have Continue reading >>
Diet Soda On A Keto Diet
Throughout the years, I have gotten so many questions regarding diet soda on a Keto diet. Is it okay to drink since it’s 0 grams of carbohydrates (thanks to sugar alcohols and sweeteners)? The short answer is… it depends. Some people can drink diet sodas all day long, lose weight and feel great. I wish I were one of these people. Personally, I find that I can indulge every so often and be symptom free, but it comes with risks. I just have to be extremely careful and mindful of my intake. So what are the draw backs, you say? Stalls in weight loss When people tell me that they are following the Keto diet properly by tracking macros and are still unable to lose weight, one of my first suggestions will always be to cut out diet sodas. These have infamously caused stalls in the low carb community for years. Triggers insulin response Despite most sweeteners being carbohydrate-free, these sweet beverages can still cause an insulin response in the body. One of the foundations of the Keto diet is to keep our blood sugar levels as stable as possible. Constant elevated insulin levels can correlate with weight gain. Did you know that sugar substitutes and sweeteners are usually much sweeter than sugar itself? That seems crazy to me! Increased cravings for sweets This is probably the biggest kicker for me. When I do have diet soda on a low carb, Keto diet, I almost always want to finish an entire 2 litre bottle. For me, this stems backs to my old days of being helplessly addicted to Coca Cola. The sheer quantity of what I used to consume is dangerous and disgusting. This may even attribute to eating disorders like BED (binge eating disorder). Questionable long-term effects of sugar substitutes The verdict on sweeteners long-term — no one really knows. Some people claim that ar Continue reading >>
Complete Guide To Sweeteners On A Low-carb Ketogenic Diet
Most people on low-carb find that once they get used to the diet, the cravings for sugar go away. Many even claim not to use any sweeteners at all. However, you may find it hard to give up sweets, especially at the beginning. I've been researching for natural low-carb sweeteners as well as other healthy alternatives to sugar. As always, there are many sweeteners you should avoid. I personally avoid using sweeteners regularly and only use them for occasional treats. In fact, most of my recipes in KetoDiet, KetoDiet Basic and my new cookbook don't include any sweeteners at all. If your target is weight loss, sweeteners may impair your progress, as even so-called "zero-carb" sweeteners may cause cravings. If your weight is stalling, avoiding sweeteners or joining my 30-Day Clean Eating Challenge is a good way to break the weight loss plateau. You can download a print-friendly version of this guide here! Best Natural Low-carb Sweeteners Following is an overview of healthy sweeteners you could use provided your net carbs limit allows for it. People with very low net carbs limit should avoid using anything other than "zero-carb" sweeteners, like Stevia, Monk fruit sweetener or Erythritol. 1. Stevia Stevia is an herb, which is commonly known as "sugar leaf". The extract from this herb is used as a sweetener and sugar substitute. Based on the USDA database, Stevia belongs to a group of non-nutritive sweeteners. This means there are no calories, vitamins or any other nutrients. The availability of Stevia can vary from country to country. Nowadays, it is commonly used in the US and was approved for use in the EU in 2011. The health effects of Stevia have been questioned for the past few decades. However, based on recent studies of the WHO (World Health Organization), Stevia extra Continue reading >>
Stevia For Ketogenic Diet?
Is stevia suitable for a ketogenic diet (30 grams of carbs per day maximum)? Does it cause the body to "burn" stevia's sugars and "kick" the body out of ketosis? For argument's sake, let's say I somehow manage to never eat more 30gr of carbs per day, and my body kicks out of ketosis at 31 gr/day of carbs. If I eat 1 teaspoon of stevia (e.g. on tea during the day), will I get out of ketosis? Can the body burn it, or it just goes through me like water? Is stevia really safe to use on a ketogenic diet? Continue reading >>
The Unbiased Truth About Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners continue to be a controversial public health issue, and the research keeps coming. In fact, a new study on artificial sweeteners and weight loss was just published on Monday, and the FDA approved a new artificial sweetener (advantame) last Wednesday. On one hand, many people are adamantly opposed to the use of artificial sweeteners because of the purported link with increased risk for cancer and other diseases. But on the other hand, artificial sweeteners are becoming increasingly popular as people try to reduce calorie consumption and lose weight. There’s too much research out there to cover comprehensively in a blog article, but I’ll try to cover the basics: will artificial sweeteners give you cancer or other diseases? Do they actually help with weight loss, or do they hurt? And ultimately, should you be eating them? Find out if artificial sweeteners are helpful, harmless, or toxic in this in-depth article by @ChrisKresser. Cancer Artificial sweeteners were first tied to cancer risk in the 1970’s after a study showed that a combination of saccharin and cyclamate (another early artificial sweetener) caused bladder cancer in lab rats. The mechanism behind these effects was later found to be specific to rats and not generalizable to other animals or humans (in these rats, comparable doses of vitamin C can also cause bladder cancer), and further studies demonstrated that neither sweetener is carcinogenic. (1, 2) However, this study cast a shadow of doubt over artificial sweeteners, and thanks in part to the media’s penchant for blowing things way out of proportion, the reputation of artificial sweeteners has never recovered. A later study suggested a link between aspartame consumption and brain tumors. The authors based this hypothesis on the Continue reading >>
Erythritol, The Sweet Ketogenic Diet Ingredient
Erythritol, the sweet ketogenic diet ingredient, is a sugar alcohol (polyol) that is approximately 60-80% as sweet as sucrose (table sugar). It is naturally found in minor amounts in some fruits like watermelon, pear, and grape. There’s some even in mushrooms and fermented foods like wine, beer, and soy sauce. In Japan, erythritol has been consumed as a food ingredient since 1990. Thus, there’s been plenty of research conducted by Japanese scientists on how safe erythritol is, what are its side effects, etc. Erythritol has been approved in USA since 2001. It has been used as a white or brown sugar substitute, as well as powdered sugar substitute. Erythritol, just like sugar, can either be granulated or powdered. It has a low glycemic index and is therefore suitable for diabetics. It is soluble in water, and it starts melting at approximately 145°F (119°C). This might be a handy information for cooking purposes. Its caloric value is less than 0.2 kcal/g for daily intakes not exceeding 25 g/day (which is slightly less than an ounce a day). There are two methods of fermentation for erythritol production. Both methods include yeast-like fungi to ferment wheat or corn starch. The fermentation broth is then heated to kill the production organism, and dead cells are removed by filtering. Erythritol further on undergoes various purification procedures, so that the final product is at least 99% pure. The fermentation method obviously differs from synthetic manufacturing of artificial sweeteners like sucralose. Splenda is the famous sucralose brand name. Erythritol, accompanied by steviol glycoside, is an ingredient of Truvia. If you want to use solely erythritol, Sukrin is one of the most known brands you can find pretty much worldwide. Animal studies of erythritol Animal Continue reading >>
Best Low Carb Sweetener:the Best Sweeteners & How To Choose Them
(I often get asked, “What is the best sweetener for a low carb diet? I hope that my previous article about the difference between low carb sweeteners and this article answer that question for you.) In my last article, Low Carb Sweeteners: Choose What’s Best For You, I talked about the differences between artificial sweeteners, natural low carb sugar alternatives, and natural sugar substitutes. I also listed the pros and cons of each, summing up with the statement that “choosing the best sweetener for you depends on your goals and what you are most comfortable with.” I’ve done a lot of low carb baking over the years, and have tried almost every sweetener on the market. I discovered early on that mixing several sweeteners together produces the best “sugar taste” while minimizing the negatives of any one sweetener. I still mix my sweeteners, preferring to use natural low carb sugar alternatives in lieu of artificial. Why? Well, it’s MY personal preference and what I feel most comfortable doing – especially with kids in the house. But I don’t judge, use what you want. My two Favorite Low Carb Sweeteners? Erythritol and Stevia Now let me just quickly say that my very favorite sweetener is Xylitol. It has a clean sweet flavor most like sugar, but it has three strikes against it… it is lethal to dogs It has calories & the tendency to spike blood sugar in some individuals It can cause stomach upset in some individuals So, I have come to rely on the dynamic duo of Erythritol and Stevia What is erythritol? Simply put, erythritol is a sugar alcohol, named so because it’s chemical structure looks more like that of an alcohol rather than a sugar. It comes in crystalline form (looking like sugar), has 60% the sweetness of sugar, and produces a cooling effect a Continue reading >>
Best Sugar Substitute For Keto? [infographic]
We’re going to be breaking these sweeteners down into 3 distinct categories in order to choose the best sugar substitute for a keto diet. Those categories are Artificial Sweeteners, Sugar Alcohols, and Natural Sweeteners. Check out our video where we touch on everything covered in this blog post and give our recommendations for the best sugar substitute for keto. Artificial Sweeteners These tend to known as intense sweeteners because they are much sweeter than regular sugar. Based on this fact, you only need a fraction of the amount you would normally use with regular sugar. This is seen as a benefit by many. They contain synthetic chemicals that stimulate the sweet taste receptors on your tongue. So, let us break down the different types of artificial sweeteners: Aspartame You might not recognize the name, but if you’ve ever used Equal, you’ve been using aspartame. Aspartame is a low calorie sweetener that is approximately 180 times sweeter than regular sugar. The components that make up this artificial sweetener are amino acid, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, which are not only broken down completely by your body, but found in larger quantities in a great deal of foods, such as meat and vegetables. Aspartame is 0 calories and 0 gylcemic index. When combined with dextrose and maltodextrin to form Equal brand sweetener the calories and glycemic index are increased based on the added ingredients. Pros: Essentially Zero calorie additive Zero glycemic index Cons: Often mixed with high glycemic bulking agents Highly controversial/opposing studies on safety Acesulfame K This artificial sweetener is used in a variety of foods and is approximately 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. It is often found in a blend with other sweeteners, such as aspartame. Blending the tw Continue reading >>
The Top Four Sweeteners For A Low-carb Keto Diet
Sugar is basically off limits on a ketogenic diet, but not all hope is lost — you CAN still enjoy sweetness while eating keto. All it takes is some education on the right types of sweeteners to use. Read on to find the top four sweeteners you can use for a low-carb keto diet and why we recommend them. What Defines a Keto-Friendly Sweetener? First, let’s start with what each of these top keto sweeteners have in common and how they follow our guidelines: Low Glycemic The glycemic index (GI) refers to how much a food raises blood sugar. It runs from zero to 100, zero representing no raise in blood sugar and insulin levels. The goal with the ketogenic diet is to remain in ketosis, so staying as close as possible to zero GI for sweeteners is the best choice. Sugar Free Obviously, avoiding added sugars is a necessity on keto. We’re training the body to burn fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates; therefore, carb intake should be kept very low. Even fruit should be severely limited, preferably eliminated, so it makes sense that anything with added sugars are a no-go. Low Carb Another obvious guideline when you’re keto: low- or no-carb sweeteners are a must if you want to stay in ketosis. Top 4 Low-Carb Keto Diet Sweeteners Now that we’ve established some guidelines, here are our top four recommendations for sweeteners on a low-carb ketogenic diet: #1 Stevia Stevia is from the extract of the herb Stevia rebaudiana. In its pure form, stevia contains no calories, no carbs and is zero on the glycemic index. Additionally, It is typically 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar, meaning you only need to use a little to get a sweet taste in foods. Benefits and Using Stevia: Besides not affecting blood sugar or contributing carbs or calories, stevia has also been shown to actu Continue reading >>