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What Sweeteners Can Be Used On Keto?


  • What Sweeteners Can Be Used On Keto?

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    Which sweetener can be used on the keto diet. Information about sweeteners (both natural and artificial) is still controversial. So far, scientists have not made statements that sweetener is 100% harmful.

    At the same time, we often hear diplomatic excuses that in general, sweeteners carry some health risks. In early 2019, a German-French team of researchers decided to move the issue forward and conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 50 studies on how sweeteners affect the body. According to the results two news items were reported:
    • good: according to recent data, sweeteners are unlikely to provoke cancer and directly complicate the life of the heart and blood vessels;
    • bad: with its direct responsibilities – control of sugar in the blood and the expulsion of extra pounds – unfortunately, they don't do it.

    Click on the image to see Video: THE 9 BEST KETO DIET LOW CARB SWEETENERS

    Moreover, recently in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, the results of a recent study were published that sweeteners can provoke weight gain and blood sugar, but in comparison with sugar, very slightly.

    Simply put, a sweetener is always a story about “if you can't, but you really want to, then you can”. In any case, within the framework of keto, we consider the sweetener as a guilty pleasure.

    The question is which sweetener is the safest because each of them has a different effect on the body in terms of metabolism (for example, they can change the appetite, taste preferences, and gut microbiome).

    Click on the image to see Video: Can I Use Sugar Substitutes on My Keto Diet?

    Why do we need to know about the types of sweeteners?

    It may be a revelation to some, but you will not stop loving sweet things on a keto diet. It will take away the painful withdrawal that previously did not allow you to resist eclairs with custard.

    Most likely, you will calmly watch someone around you indulge in a cake. But you will not forget about your tender feelings for sweets (there are those who managed to do this, but there is a minority of them).

    The fact is that the craving for sweet, as well as for fat, is inherent in us by nature. Historically, those who refused food when they had the opportunity to eat did not survive.

    By the way, the very first food in our life – breast milk is sweet. So it is not surprising that in times of anxiety we want to console ourselves with chocolate chip ice cream or Nutella.

    However, there is a way out of the situation on the keto diet. After all, we do not exclude desserts from the menu, just prepare them from the appropriate ingredients. Sometimes we can please ourselves with ready-made keto sweets. The main thing is to understand what they are made of.


    Allowed sweeteners

    Safe for blood vessels, microbiota, do not affect blood glucose, have zero calories: erythritol, stevia, monk


    Stevia is a natural sugar substitute. It is considered safe for diabetics and anyone who adheres to a low-carb diet. Before processing, it is the dry leaves of a perennial shrub, rubbed into a powder. After processing, it is sold in the format of drops, powder, and tablets. According to research, stevia does not have a negative impact on health.

    In order to give the dish the desired taste, a couple of drops or a pinch of s will be enough. However, for dishes where sweetener is required not only for taste but also for volume, it is not suitable.


    Monk (monk's fruit, Luo Han Guo) is another plant sweetener obtained from the fruit growing in South-East Asia. This sweetener has been known for many centuries in Chinese medicine and there is no information about the side effects of using it in food.

    Monk is sold in the form of crystals and has zero calories, while 100-250 times sweeter than sugar. The sweetener is rich in vitamin C and is suitable for diabetics.

    Like stevia, monk is added to the product just a little.


    Erythritol (erythritol) – sugar alcohol. In fact, neither sugar nor alcohol – does not fog the mind and does not affect blood sugar at all. Ideal for baking, but dissolves worse than sugar, sometimes it is better to grind it in a coffee grinder. In nature, it is contained in melons, so manufacturers often write "melon sugar” – it sounds more familiar than” sugar alcohol".

    Erythritol is obtained from corn starch, it is natural, safe, but this is not a reason to get carried away with it. By the way, the abuse of erythritol can cause flatulence.


    Allulose is a natural monosaccharide found in some fruits. Less sweet and calorific than sugar, does not affect glucose. For some, it helps to lose weight and reduce the percentage of body fat. It is not processed by the body and has a pleasant taste. It is rather expensive.

    Sweeteners that should be treated with caution

    Safe for blood vessels and microbiota, but can affect the level of blood sugar (slightly) or have a non-zero caloric content: xylitol, inulin, tagalose


    Xylitol is another sugar alcohol. A natural sweetener found in berries and fruits. Unlike erythritol, it affects the level of glucose in the blood, however, less than normal sugar. It has antimicrobial properties for the oral cavity and therefore is often found in the composition of chewing gum. It is good for caries prevention, so it is useful to cook on it for children. But for pets, it will be deadly.


    Inulin (sometimes referred to as chicory root) – another natural and even somewhere useful sweetener - is liked by the gut microbiota. It is still not worth eating with spoons, it may cause flatulence. And with strong heating, it can even transform into fructose.


    Tagaloa – a relative of cellulose. The calorie content of the sweetener, of course, is not zero, but the glycemic index is only 3.


    Isomalt - sugar alcohol, which is often found in products on the shelves “for diabetics". Its caloric content is small, as well as GI. It has a laxative effect. We can't say that it is definitely harmful. Rather, we need to collect more data on it. In rare cases, it is possible to turn a blind eye to it in keto desserts, but we do not recommend cooking on it.

    Sweeteners that should be avoided

    Affect blood sugar, calories, harm the microbiota:
    maltitol, sorbitol, lactitol, glycerol, maltodextrin, sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, glucose, dextrose, honey, coconut sugar, isomaltooligosaccharide

    All participants in this list cause sugar spikes, with maltodextrin the most. Aspartame and sucralose will also have a side effect on the gut microbiota.

    In some medications, you can turn a blind eye to sorbitol, if this is justified. But not in keto desserts.


    Fructose is a wolf in sheepskin. Yes, it does not affect blood sugar, so it is recommended for diabetics. But not everything is so clear. The whole burden of fructose falls on the liver – only it can deal with it. It is easy to guess that constant fructose attacks do not pass without a trace: fat grows over the liver itself, and the space around it.

    And all the “healthy” sweets with “natural” syrup – it is only a loading dose of fructose.

    The ubiquity of fructose is a relic of the ' 80s. When fat was finally recognized as an enemy, bland and tasteless foods were added sugar, and then fructose. It is sweeter than sugar and even cheaper. In addition, " fructose is natural” and “healthier than sugar”.

    After all, it does not affect the level of blood glucose and insulin, which means that it is possible for diabetics and those who want to lose weight. What a fairy tale! Or not?

    Fruit does contain fructose. The fruit is natural, but so is the poison of toadstools? Fruit, of course, is not poisonous. But their usefulness and naturalness are greatly exaggerated.

    Products usually use fructose in powder or fructose syrup (fructose-glucose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup). These are toxic ingredients and should always be avoided.

    What is fructose?

    It is a monosaccharide that does not break down into simpler components, the simplest source of carbohydrate energy.

    The formula of fructose coincides with the formula of glucose – C6H12O6. These are isomers, that is, compounds with the same atomic composition, but different in structure and arrangement of atoms in space. Because of this, they behave differently in the body.

    Glucose and fructose: what is the difference

    Glucose gives a sense of satiety and energy, increases blood sugar, and, accordingly, insulin (in healthy people), injures blood vessels, nerve cells, increases inflammation in the body. 1 g of glucose contains 3.4 kcal.

    Fructose does not affect blood sugar and does not pull insulin, gives products a sweet taste – sweeter than glucose. The calorie content of fructose is 3.96 g.

    What is dangerous about fructose?

    "On fructose” - the label of the product for diabetics joyfully informs us. Fructose will not have an insulin response, so it is considered a safe sweetener for those who need to monitor their blood sugar levels. And what then can be the harm of fructose?

    If all cells of the body can use glucose, then only the liver deals with fructose. This organ can use very small amounts of fructose. Everything else it puts off until the best (or rather, the worst, when energy is urgently needed) times.

    With excessive consumption of fructose, hepatosis develops – liver obesity. In the future – cirrhosis. Just like alcoholics, but a little faster.

    When a person consumes a lot of fructose, triglycerides in the blood increase (more than from glucose). Visceral fat begins to grow – the fat that surrounds the internal organs. A person with this type of obesity may be thin but look a little (or slightly) pregnant.

    In diabetes, the body does not produce (or produces very little) insulin, the hormone that is supposed to send glucose to cells. Diabetics have to inject insulin to keep their blood sugar levels normal.

    Unfortunately, instead of advice to avoid carbohydrates, diabetics are taught to calculate the amount of insulin for a sweet meal, and fructose is offered as a healthy alternative to sugar. But this only makes their problems worse.

    Many people with diabetes cannot lose weight for years, and they often have cardiovascular diseases.

    Then which is better sugar or fructose?

    Nothing. Ideally, give up both. Sugar consists of glucose and fructose 50/50, so it seems to have double harm, but there are nuances. For example, choosing between fructose-based chocolate and chocolate from 80% cocoa, but with sugar, it is better to choose the second.

    The question of which is more useful, sugar or fructose is meaningless, both are harmful. But sometimes the " classic” doesn't need to be replaced with an alternative.

    What foods contain fructose?

    Even if you pass by obscurantism in the diabetic department of the nearest supermarket, there is a chance to eat more fructose than our liver can handle. Fructose is found in:
    • Sugar
    • Syrups (agave, maple, corn, Jerusalem artichoke, date)
    • Honey
    • Starchy vegetables and root vegetables
    • Fruits
    • Industrial sweets
    • Many "healthy”, “sugar-free”, “fitness” and "diet" products contain "natural" fructose.

    Please note that manufacturers of "healthy sweets" are very fond of this " natural sugar” (as we remember, it is cheap).

    Therefore, fructose can often be found in " healthy desserts” not for diabetics. And usually, the packaging will be written in large letters “without sugar”, "natural”," on stevia”, and harmful fructose in the composition will only be detected by a sharp eye.

    If fructose in desserts is common (remember, it is cheap and sweet), then you hardly expect to find it in your cat's food (Yes, it is also not useful for animals), and even more so in children's products.

    Is fructose dangerous in fruit?

    Fruit on the keto diet is a stumbling block. Someone says goodbye to them forever, someone does not think of summer without watermelons.

    In fact, it all depends on the source data. If you do not have an impressive excess weight, exercise, and are generally active, then an apple (one of the record holders for fructose) will not ruin you. The main thing is to limit yourself to this one apple and not every day.

    Those who came to keto with serious visceral obesity, insulin resistance, or non-alcoholic liver hepatosis should be more careful with fruit.

    Fruits are natural candies. Are they natural? Depends on what we mean by that. The modern store-bought apple differs from the wild very much. They were available only in the season, for residents of our region, this means in late summer and early autumn.

    It's a great time to eat some fat, which will save you from hunger and cold in winter. Today we are dealing with much sweeter fruits, and the need to make winter supplies more or less disappeared.

    Our favorite sweeteners are stevia and erythritol. They do not cause an increase in blood sugar and there are no studies yet proving their harm. Their disadvantages: stevia is bitter, erythritol has a cold taste, and still - it can cause diarrhea if you eat a lot. They are sold as a mix, together they complement each other and are more similar to sugar in taste.

    At the same time, stevia needs just a little bit to give it sweetness. But it is difficult to use it in those recipes where you need volume, for example, in baking.

    Here erythritol comes to the rescue. But it does not dissolve well (in some cases, it is better to grind it into powder), you can not do “caramelization” with it.

    Another question is that very soon on keto you will feel sweetness even in coconut shavings, and almond flour buns will not require any sweeteners. This is the advantage of keto-life.

    Do synthetic sweeteners provoke prediabetes?

    Published in the journal Nature, a study conducted at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel shows that synthetic sweeteners are not as harmless as was commonly believed, and their regular use can lead to immunity of the body's tissues to insulin – a condition that precedes diabetes.

    The authors tested three popular artificial sweeteners: saccharin, sucralose, and asparate. The latter is the most popular synthetic sweetener in the world, and people consume it in particularly large amounts since it is part of most carbonated drinks labeled Light, Diet, and “zero calories”.

    Different groups of mice were given water for a week with the addition of one of the sweeteners, glucose, ordinary sugar, or without any additives.

    Measurements showed that mice treated with pure water or even water with sugar did not have noticeable metabolic changes, and those who drank a solution of saccharin, sucralose, or asparatam, developed a noticeable intolerance to glucose, or insulin resistance. In fact, they showed signs of beginning diabetes.

    But this is not all: after the insulin-resistant mice received a shock dose of antibiotics that destroyed almost all intestinal bacteria, the signs of glucose intolerance disappeared.

    It seems that the causes of metabolic disorders lay precisely in the intestinal microflora, which was affected by sugar substitutes in some bad way.

    To test this assumption, scientists transplanted the bacteria of insulin-resistant mice into the intestines of sterile mice (with pre-removed microflora) and got the same effect – the mice developed a prediabetic condition.

    The same result was achieved by transplanting microflora grown in a test tube with the addition of artificial sweeteners to mice.

    Scientists do not yet have an answer to the question why three different chemicals caused similar metabolic changes.

    Studies conducted on humans give a similar, but much less certain result. After analyzing the information in the database Personalized Nutrition Project ( – the world's largest study of the impact of nutrition on the microflora - Israeli scientists have found a correlation between the consumption of synthetic sweeteners and signs of glucose intolerance.

    Besides, a small study was conducted, which involved seven volunteers who usually do not use artificial sublayers.

    After a week, four out of seven, i.e. a little more than half, but not all, showed signs of glucose intolerance. Most likely, the undesirable metabolic effect is not universal and depends on a number of individual factors, such as the composition of the population of intestinal microflora.

    During the study, scientists identified two types of bacteria – those that under the influence of artificial sweeteners provoke glucose intolerance, and those that do not.

    One of the researchers - Dr. Eran Elinav - explains that this is most likely the result of the fact that under the influence of sugar substitutes, some bacteria secrete a secret similar to that produced by an overdose of sugar.

    This secret can cause inflammatory processes and impair the body's ability to perceive glucose. Another author of the study, Professor Eran Segal, says that the individual reaction of the body to sugar substitutes can be predicted by analyzing the microflora.

    This discovery, among other things, points to the prospects of treating insulin resistance with probiotics – i.e., drugs containing a live bacterial culture.

    Many scientists, including Professor Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health, consider the results of the study to be interesting but not sufficiently definite and question the conclusions of Israeli scientists.

    First of all, because the human study was too limited – both in the number of participants and in the time of observation.

    But this is not the first time that research has found problems caused by artificial sweeteners – for example, a 2013 paper published showed that regular consumption of sucralose by obese people can increase their response to regular sugar and lead to a 20% increase in blood glucose and insulin levels.

    In addition, a study conducted at the University of Iowa showed a clear association between older women's consumption of “diet” sweet sodas and an increased risk of heart disease.

    Perhaps the Israeli study provides an answer to the question of why some obese people can not lose weight by giving up sugar in favor of its synthetic analogues. But we can hardly expect an immediate review of official recommendations in the field of artificial sweeteners.

    After all, their official status as safe products for consumption is also confirmed by many scientific papers and clinical trials.

    But at least this work sets a new and very promising direction for further research – if until now the main properties of sweeteners were described by their caloric content (preferably zero) and glycemic indices (the lower the better), now the key factor may be their impact on the intestinal microflora.

    And in this area, many questions have yet to be answered: for example, are there safe doses to avoid undesirable metabolic effects, are there ways to protect the microflora from harmful effects, and do all sweeteners behave the same?

    The published study concerned only synthetic products that do not exist in nature. And what happens to the microflora when consuming more and more popular natural sweeteners based on stevia, tagatose and so-called sugar alcohols, or polyols – for example, xylitol and erythritol?

    In this context, erythritol looks like a particularly interesting alternative to sugar, since its metabolism is very different from that of other sugar alcohols and sweeteners.

    90% of the consumed erythritol is absorbed in the small intestine and leaves the body with urine in an unchanged form.

    That is, no more than 10% of the consumed product reaches the main habitat of the intestinal microflora – the colon, but even this part has minimal impact on the microflora and according to a study conducted in 2005, it is not fermented by intestinal bacteria.

    Scientists from the Weizmann Institute are going to continue studying the metabolic effects of consuming various sweeteners and stevia is part of their immediate plans. Based on what they've already discovered, it's better to give up carbonated drinks labeled Light, Diet, and “zero calories” right now.

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