Working out which sugars are keto friendly and sugars to avoid on keto can be difficult, even for seasoned keto eaters. To make life easier for you, we have created this guide to the best and worst keto sugars to help you on your journey.
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Just because you are enjoying a keto diet does not mean that you have to miss out on some of your favorite sweet foods.
It may be that you just need to look for options with keto-approved sugars or learn how to make some of your favorite keto desserts with keto-friendly sugars. Either way, you do not have to miss out.
Before we get into which sugars are and are not keto-friendly, let’s have a quick recap on what keto is and what it is trying to achieve in your body.
This way we will be able to understand why some sugars affect our bodies in different ways to better understand which will support a keto lifestyle and which will hinder your efforts.
A Quick Keto Recap
If you’re new to keto and want a bit more information, check out our keto beginners guide. As a quick summary, if you need it, the keto (also known as the ketogenic diet) is a low-carb, high-fat diet.
The whole concept of the keto diet is that your body transitions from burning glucose, in simple terms, sugars or carbohydrates, to burning fat as its primary fuel source. For a keto diet, people will restrict their macros to eating;
- 70% of their calories are from fat
- 25% from protein
- 5% from carbohydrates
Sticking to these macros for a period of time will put your body into a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is when your body has transitioned from burning carbohydrates as its primary fuel source to burning fat for fuel. It is at this point that you will start to see and feel the benefits of the keto diet.
There are a lot of new terms and abbreviations that you may come across, sometimes it can feel like a new language that you need to learn.
Some people can be put off the keto diet because of the side effects, however, these are only short-lived and the health benefits of keto far outweigh the side effects.
One of the main benefits which attract people to the keto diet is that it can cause significant reductions in insulin levels (by up to 75%) and blood sugar levels, which can be attractive to those that struggle with diabetes, amongst other health complaints.
In order to use the keto diet in such a way, it is essential that we understand which sugars are, and are not, keto-friendly, but more importantly, why.
Getting your keto sugar substitutes right will help you on your keto journey.
This will mean that you can still enjoy keto friendly sweet treats and still be able to achieve your keto goals.
Let’s get into it now….which sugars are, and which sugars are not keto friendly?
What Are The Different Types Of Sugars?
Sugars can roughly be broken down into the following categories;
- Modified Sugar
- Natural Sugar
- Sugar Extract
- Sugar Alcohols
- Natural Sweetener
Let’s look at these sugars in a bit more detail below to better understand which are appropriate to use on the keto diet and not.
What Is A Modified Sugar?
A modified sugar is a sweetener that has been processed into a powder form.
The process of modifying sugars makes them easier to use in baking and cooking. Some commonly modified sugars include brown rice syrup, maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, molasses, and barley malt syrup.
What Is A Natural Sugar?
A natural sugar is any sugar that comes from plants or animals. The main types of natural sugars include sucrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and galactose.
- Sucrose is found naturally in fruits like apples, pears, bananas, and strawberries. Fructose is found naturally in fruit juices, honey, and maple syrup.
- Glucose is found naturally in vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, beets, and corn.
- Lactose is found naturally in milk and dairy products.
- Maltose is found naturally in barley, oats, wheat, and rye.
- Galactose is found naturally only in certain plants, such as legumes.
What Is A Sugar Extract?
A sugar extract is a concentrated form of natural sweetener extracted from sugarcane.
The process of extracting sugar from sugar cane is called “refining”. Refined sugar has a higher concentration of sucrose (sugar), which makes it sweeter.
This is why refined sugar is used for baking, cooking, and other food preparation.
What Are Sugar Alcohols?
Sugar alcohols are artificial sweeteners made from sugar.
These sweeteners are used in foods and beverages for their sweetness, low-calorie properties, and other attributes.
A lot of these are a number of times sweeter than regular white sugar (aka table sugar).
What Are Natural Sweeteners?
Natural sweeteners are sugar substitutes made from natural ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and other plants.
They are healthier alternatives to refined sugars, which contain high amounts of calories and artificial additives. Sore natural sugars are also sugar alcohols.
The best natural sweeteners include;
Which Sweeteners Are The Best For Keto?
Are you looking for the best sweetener for keto? If yes, then you’ve come to the right place.
There are many types of sweeteners that can be used in keto recipes to replace regular sugar.
Some of the most popular keto approved sweeteners are;
As you will see, there are plenty of keto-friendly sweeteners available. This means that you do not have to miss out on any of your sweet treats when you are on a keto diet.
We have many keto-friendly dessert recipes on our site, but a quick Google search reveals thousands of amazing recipes for you to choose from.
Which Sweeteners Should Be Avoided On A Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet has become popular for weight loss, but some sweeteners may be harmful when used on a keto diet.
Below is a list of sweeteners that should be avoided on a keto diet;
- Acesulfame K
- Agave Syrup
- Barley Malt Syrup
- Blackstrap Molasses
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Cane Juice
- Coconut Palm Sugar
- Fructose (aka Fructose Coen Syrup)
- Golden Syrup
- Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates [HSH]
- Inverted Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Refiners Syrup
- Sorghum Syrup
- Yacon Syrup
Coconut sugar has a GI score of 35 and contains 100g grams of carbs per 100 grams of coconut sugar, which is too high a carb count for a keto diet as it is likely to severely impact on blood sugar levels.
However, as you will see, there are plenty of sugar alternatives available for those of us that are wanting to eat a keto or low-carb diet.
Do I Have To Quit Sugar On Keto?
The answer is yes. If you want to lose weight on keto, you must cut out all forms of sugar.
This includes natural sugars like those found in fruit, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc., artificial sweeteners (like Splenda), and anything else made from refined white flour.
What Happens When I Quit Sugar?
When you quit sugar, you lose weight, feel better, and live longer.
Sugar is one of the main causes of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
However, as with withdrawing from any addictive substance, you may have some slight side effects in the early days, these can include headaches, a lack of energy and generally feeling unfocused.
It is likely that you will have sugar cravings as your body has suddenly been deprived of what it is used to.
Check out this article for more on the side effects of the keto diet.
Over the first couple of weeks, these side effects will soon go away and you will be left feeling healthy, focused, and feeling full of energy on a consistent basis.
This is because your blood sugar spikes will be stabilized as you will not be eating sugary foods, which will spike your blood sugar, followed by the sugar crash after and that feeling of hunger.
Keto Approved Sugars
There you have it, the ultimate guide to keto friendly sugars as well as which sugars to avoid on a keto diet. Bookmark this article or print out our list of keto-friendly sweeteners and non-keto-friendly sugars to avoid.
What are your favorite keto sweeteners for what?