If you’re on a keto diet, giving up sugar may be one of the hardest things to do. Sugar is deceptively addictive and let’s face it, a little bit of sweetness makes a lot of things better. This is true for coffee as well, where many coffee lovers need at least one or two teaspoons (or more!) to make their morning coffee more palatable. Does this mean you need to give up your coffee on a keto diet? Absolutely not! Black coffee is one of the best beverages for a keto diet, as long as you skip the milk, creamer, and sugar.
If you just can’t do without some sweetness, here are some keto sugar substitutes that will make your coffee taste great while not affecting your diet.
The Best Low Carb Sweeteners
The OG artificial keto sweetener has to be Stevia. Derived from the Stevia plant from which it gets its name, this is truly a low carb sweetener with zero calories. Stevia is one of the best sugar substitutes for keto diet since it’s easy to find, can be either liquid or powder, and you need a small amount. Stevia is much sweeter than normal sugar so you only need to use very little.
The major advantages of Stevia are that it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, is easy to use, and has no calories. However, there are a few disadvantages such as a reported bitter aftertaste for some people, you may accidentally use too much, and there are no long-term studies on Stevia as of now. Stevia is very popular and some may consider it the best keto sweetener.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol derived from plants and is commonly used to sweeten desserts, candies, sugar-free gum, and mouthwash. This isn’t a completely carb-free option but it’s incredibly low in carbohydrates (4g per teaspoon) and calories (3 calories per teaspoon). Xylitol isn’t completely absorbed by the gut so it won’t affect your net carb intake or your blood sugar levels. It’s exactly as sweet as sugar so substituting it in your coffee is very simple.
However, excessive use of xylitol has been linked to gut issues like an upset stomach, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Keep an eye on your xylitol intake and stop immediately if you notice any adverse effects. Also note that xylitol is lethal to dogs and cats, even in small doses, so keep it stored carefully if you have furry friends running about.
This is another sugar alcohol, made from fermented cornstarch or corn. Erythritol is 80% as sweet as sugar but has negligible calories or carbohydrate content. Unlike the aforementioned xylitol, erythritol doesn’t cause digestive issues thanks to its low molecular weight.
Erythritol won’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels and it can easily be used as a substitute for sugar in cooking, baking, and making your coffee. You’d be surprised to know that while erythritol looks and acts like sugar, it has a strange mouthfeel (a cooling effect) that some may not like. It’s also slow to dissolve so it can become gritty in your cup. All things considered, this is a good option for a low carb sweetener that is easy to use and can actually lower your blood glucose levels.
4. Monk Fruit
Monk fruit sweetener is derived from the monk fruit plant which is native to southern China. Natively known as Luo Han Guo, monk fruit sweetener is relatively new to the western world but has been used in its dried form for centuries in soups, teas, and broths across Asia. In its natural form, monk fruit contains natural sugars (sucrose and fructose) and antioxidant compounds called mogrosides, which account for much of its sweetness. Dried or processed monk fruit sweetener is mostly mogrosides which makes it carb-free and with zero calories. Depending on the concentration of mogrosides, monk fruit sweetener can be anywhere between 100-250 times sweeter than regular sugar.
As a natural sugar substitute used for centuries, monk fruit is safe to use for food and beverages and it leaves a very mild aftertaste. It doesn’t cause stomach issues like sugar alcohols and it’s not as harshly flavored as stevia. However, monk fruit is a pricier option than others on the list. Also, note that monk fruit is sometimes adulterated with fillers so always examine the pack before buying.
5. Yakon Syrup
Another natural substitute for sugar, yakon syrup is derived from the roots of the yakon plant, which is a tuber native to South America. Yakon syrup is rich in simple sugars and indigestible fiber. This means it won’t be completely absorbed by the digestive system so it becomes a low calorie and low carb sweetener. While it does have 11g of carbohydrate per teaspoon, your body doesn’t process this the same way as other carbohydrates so this is still an option for a keto diet. This may not be the best sugar substitute for keto diet, but it gets the job done in a pinch.
You cannot use yakon syrup for cooking or baking, since heat breaks down the indigestible fiber and it will no longer be a keto-friendly option.
Coming back to the artificial sweeteners, Sucralose is 200-700 times sweeter than sugar and is commonly found in Splenda. This is one of the most popular low carb sweeteners and some will say the best keto sweetener since it’s easy to find, easy to use, and effective. Sucralose cannot be metabolized by the body so it passes through your digestive system unaffected and unabsorbed, making it zero calories and zero carbs.
Before you go crazy with Splenda, keep in mind that Splenda is sucralose along with dextrose and maltodextrin, which contribute a minuscule amount of carbohydrates (1g per packet). Pure sucralose is many times sweeter than sugar, so be wary with substitution. Splenda can be replaced 1:1 with sugar. Sucralose degrades at high temperatures so avoid using it for cooking or baking, and save it for your coffee and oatmeal instead.
Last but not least, we have allulose which is one of the newer low carb sweeteners. Allulose is not artificial and can be naturally found in small quantities in maple syrup, raisins, dry figs, molasses, etc. It’s chemically similar to cane sugar but is manufactured by enzymatically processing fructose. The resulting allulose isn’t processed the same way as sugar and so it’s a zero carb, zero calories keto sweetener.
You can often find allulose paired with other low carb sweeteners like monk fruit. As a new sugar substitute, there aren’t many long-term studies on allulose and its effects but so far it has proven to be safe and effective for many.
Sweeteners To Avoid on a Keto Diet
Now that you know which low carb sweeteners will work for you, here are some sweeteners that you should avoid on a keto diet:
While this is a natural and popular substitute for sugar, honey is high in calories and carbohydrates which makes it unsuitable for a keto diet. Honey is a great source of antioxidants and nutrients but it’s not the best keto sweetener.
Agave syrup, produced from the agave plant, is a great vegan substitute for sugar but unfortunately, it’s not ideal for a keto diet. Agave syrup is mostly fructose (up to 85%) which will affect both your blood glucose levels and your overall metabolism and insulin resistance.
Another natural sweetener, maple syrup is delicious but sadly not keto-friendly. Maple syrup is essentially pure sugar and carbohydrates. The only way to make this work for a keto diet is to switch to sugar-free maple syrup. Anyway, maple syrup is not the best sweetener for coffee so try out the other options on this list.
Maltodextrin is derived from processed starchy plants like rice, wheat, potato, and corn. Maltodextrin is easy to produce and so can be found in many processed foods including canned food, processed meat, pasta, sauces, instant noodles, etc. However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Maltodextrin contains as much carbohydrate as normal sugar, and it can have adverse effects on the body so skip this sweetener while on a keto diet.
Dates are a great sweet snack but not on a keto diet. Both dates and date syrup are high in sugar, calories, and carbohydrates. While it also contains some nutrients, the high sugar and carb content makes this unsuitable for a keto diet.
If you’re on a keto diet, let us know your favorite low carb sugar substitutes. Do you prefer the artificial or natural option? Perhaps you have your own solutions? Whatever you choose, rest assured you have plenty of keto sweeteners at your disposal so you don’t have to give up your regular coffee.