My husband and I started this Keto journey about 2 years ago now and I’m not lying when I say it’s changed our lives for the better. Keto was a drastic change to our lifestyles but a much-needed one that turned our health around for the better and allowed us to enjoy activities like running and hiking that our previous physical condition made difficult. However, it wasn’t without it’s learning curve. Starting Keto can be confusing, not only because there are different types of keto with vastly different rules but because all of us are different and what works for one person might not work for another. Keto is very much a personal journey and figuring out which keto sweeteners to use along the way is no different.
Keto Sweeteners, What’s the Best One to Use?
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Figuring out which of the many keto sweeteners available is the best one to use can be confusing. If you ask on one of the many Keto facebook groups it’s likely that you will get a variety of answers ranging from ‘give them up completely’ to ‘anything but sugar’. You will have people who swear by one sweetener and another person who says it tastes terrible. Since a lot of Keto sweeteners can be somewhat expensive to buy this can be challenging for those following a keto lifestyle on a budget.
So how do you go about choosing? While there is no perfect way to pick, there are a few ways to figure out where to start. This means that you can figure out which keto sweetener is best for you with (hopefully) the least amount of fuss. Here are a few questions to ask yourself!
What type of Keto are you following?
If you are following a truly strict keto diet then most people suggest sticking with Erythritol, Stevia or Monkfruit. These sweeteners rank the lowest on the glycemic index which means that they won’t spike your insulin levels and are widely considered to be the least likely to create a stall or affect weight gain.
Many people following a strict keto diet, however, also advocate against using any sweeteners at all. If you find that you can live without sweetened food or that sweeteners affect your ability to withstand cravings for carb-heavy foods then this might be the road you choose to take.
If you are following a more laid back version of Keto then products such as Splenda, Sweet’n’low and Stevia in the Raw might be worth trying. These products typically contain some carbs (usually in the form of fillers) and will affect your blood sugar to some degree. Some people also suggest that it affects their weight loss but this seems to be a very individual effect.
Are You Particularly Sensitive to After Tastes?
It’s generally accepted by most people that Stevia, although being one of the top keto-friendly sweeteners tastes terrible. Some people don’t mind the after taste and others suggest that the after taste is directly linked to the quality of the stevia. Stevia is one of the easiest keto sweeteners to find so it’s worth giving it a try if you’re not typically a picky person. If you are picky and can’t find other options to try then it might be worthwhile to explore liquid stevia drops or higher quality stevia to see if that suits you.
Erythritol is also a sweetener that some clam to have an after taste. Unlike stevia, however, this is generally described as more of a ‘cooling’ sensation and seems to be directly related to how much you need to use. I have found that while using erythritol it is best to use less then a recipe calls for in order to avoid this sensation. If a recipe tells you to use 1 cup of sweetener then try using 2/3 or 3/4 of a cup instead. Better yet! Taste as you go if possible and use the least amount of erythritol you can get away with!
I have also found that granular erythritol suffers from this effect more than the powdered form. The granular form can also cause a grainy sensation in some baking recipes. If you are having trouble getting erythritol to work for you and can’t stand stevia then you might try working with powdered erythritol like Swerve Confectioners.
Try a Mix!
Weirdly enough many people claim that using a mixture of erythritol and stevia makes the aftertaste from both disappear! Having tried this while using Splenda Stevia Naturals in our Strawberry Rhubarb Pie I can honestly say that it does seem to work!
Many ketoers who have problems dealing with Stevia and Erythritol swear by monk fruit. I have personally only tried monk fruit in my coffee and was not overly thrilled, but, it’s a suitable option to explore should the others not work out.
What About Maltitol and Xylitol?
While some people can consume these sweeteners with little problems these are the ones most people complain about when they talk about digestive upset. Maltitol, in particular, is often the culprit when people complain about the results of eating too much sugar-free candy. It’s also worth noting that Xylitol is also highly toxic to dogs and other pets so should be avoided if you have furry companions.
Most people agree that these two sweeteners should be avoided on the keto diet. They do contain some carbs and can add up quickly when you’re trying to stay under 20g! However, provided that you are one of the lucky types who don’t suffer any distress from eating them they can be eaten in small quantities without completely messing with your diet.
What Sweeteners Do You Use Personally?
This highly depends on what I’m making! My absolute favorite for baking is Swerve Confectioners. I use it in everything from Creme Brulee to Chocolate chip cookies. I love that the confectioner’s version dissolves easily, caramelizes well and doesn’t leave a grainy texture. As mentioned above I also find that this version of erythritol doesn’t have as much aftertaste as the granular product.
If I absolutely must use a granular product I have recently found that the Splenda Stevia Naturals product which is a mixture of stevia and erythritol, works best.
For sweetening drinks like our Keto Hot Chocolate I have found that Swerve Confectioners works fairly well but I’ll be honest, when it comes to my coffee nothing will do but Splenda. I am aware that many keto people frown on this but my coffee is my one daily indulgence and I’m not ruining it! A few packs of Splenda a day has not seemed to affect my weight loss or maintenance and it’s definitely better than regular sugar.
The Bottom Line
Like many keto decisions, the sweetener you use is a highly personal choice. Some people react badly to artificial sweeteners and others do not. Some people are capable of living their life without using any sweeteners at all and others view that as completely unstainable long term. Most of us live somewhere in the middle and despite popular opinion, none of us are wrong.
If you find a route that works for you without problems, if you are happy with your progress and current lifestyle and feel like you can sustain it long term then you’re doing it right. Even if a few of your choices are considered to be bad choices by others, it’s your journey and your happiness that matters!