The Most Comprehensive Guide to Natural Sugar-Free Low Carb Keto Sweeteners! You will learn all about natural sugar free sweeteners, which sweeteners to use for your baking needs, how to replace the different sweeteners, best sweeteners conversion chart including Stevia, Erythritol, Monk Fruit & Allulose as well as sugar substitutes to avoid.
NATURAL SUGAR FREE SWEETENERS
There are many sugar-free sweeteners on the market today: figuring out which is the best to use for one purpose or another can be quite confusing. Unfortunately, the product labels can be misleading, and not all sugar-free sweeteners are created equal.
When I first went sugar-free in 2004, I didn't know any sugar-free sweeteners beyond aspartame, Splenda and stevia. I tried several artificial sweeteners, and after two years sugar-free, my sugar cravings were still just as bad, if not worse.
That was when I decided to start creating recipes with natural sugar-free sweeteners and nothing artificial. The most natural sugar free sweeteners are stevia, Monk fruit, erythritol, xylitol and Allulose, but there are some big differences when it comes to using these in your recipes. Please be sure to read below all about the low carb sweeteners for all your baking needs.
SUGAR FREE SWEETENERS VERSUS UNREFINED SUGARS
When I first started in my sugar free journey, I believed I could still include unrefined sugars like honey and maple syrup because they weren't as refined as white table sugar.
There are more differences that I wasn't aware of when I was just starting sugar free life, and was not low carb. Once I learned the difference between sugar free and low carb, it made sense to stay the course of a low carb lifestyle, to keep my sugar cravings from attacking. I did have my sugar cravings under control but cravings continued for potato chips. I knew I had to try something else, so in 2015 I went keto. Switching from low carb to keto, did the trick for me and I never have cravings for anything with sugar or refined carbs.
Anything that is a true form of sugar, like coconut sugar, honey, dates, maple syrup, is still sugar. It doesn't really matter if it is less refined than white table sugar, it can and will spike your blood glucose. When glucose is spiked from eating high carb foods, especially sugar, your insulin spikes. When insulin is high, fat is not going to be lost. Insulin causes you to store and hold on to your body fat. Those looking to balance blood sugar and lose weight, should avoid anything that spikes your blood sugar which is recommended to lose body fat.
ALL NATURAL SUGAR FREE KETO SWEETENERS
All these natural sweeteners are wonderful whether you are just looking to be sugar free or eat low carb or keto. None of these will spike your blood sugar. There are some differences though in their sweetness levels and applications in baking. Some below are plant based sweeteners and some are sugar alcohol sweeteners.
- Monk Fruit
- Yacon syrup
SUGAR ALCOHOL SWEETENERS
WHAT IS ERYTHRITOL?
- It's pronounced, (a-rith-ri-tall).
- Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in small quantities in fruits and fungi like grapes, melons and mushrooms. It is only partially absorbed and digested by the intestinal tract.
- It is NOT an artificial sweetener like aspartame or Splenda. It is naturally occurring in plants and fruits and vegetables like grapes, melons and mushrooms.
- It is a sugar alcohol most often used in chewing gums, mouthwash, cough drops and mints.
- It has no calories and does not spike blood sugar. Zero on glycemic index. It is Non- GMO.
- Not to be confused with xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol which can cause gas, bloating and laxative effects.
- It measures cup for cup for sugar, but is only about 70% as sweet as table sugar. ( This is why combining it with stevia which is 300 times sweeter than sugar is a great choice).
WHAT IS XYLITOL?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some plants. Though it looks and tastes like sugar, it has 40% fewer calories. It can slightly raise blood sugar or insulin, but not nearly as much as white sugar would do. It can cause digestive issues in some people. Dog owners beware, that if your dog were to accidentally ingest xylitol, it could be fatal. It measures cup for cup like sugar and is fairly easy to bake with. I have a dog so you won't see any recipes of mine using xylitol.
Sugar Free Plant Sweetners
- Monk fruit
- Yacon syrup
What is Monk Fruit?
Monk fruit extract comes from the monk fruit, luo han guo, a cousin of the cucumber and melon that's native to China and Thailand. Monk fruit is rarely used fresh but more often is dried and used as a sweetener. It is 300% sweeter than sugar, but is calorie-free and does not raise blood sugar levels. It is sold as a pure liquid concentrate and also can be found combined with erythritol to swap cup for cup with sugar. I love the Lakanto brand Monk fruit.
What is Stevia?
I wrote my first post about the different kinds of stevia, powdered, liquid, blends and even created a conversion chart back in 2014. I also wrote my favorite Top 3 Best Stevia I liked. These posts needed some updates since so many new products for stevia and other sweeteners have developed over the years.
Stevia comes from the stevia plant, typically grown in Paraguay. Its leaves are boiled down to produce the liquid form on the market today. Stevia leaves are also dried and sold as pure concentrated extract with no added fillers. A calorie-free option, it is 300 times sweeter than sugar and does not cause digestive issues, does not raise blood sugar or spike insulin.
The type of stevia I use the most in my recipes is the liquid form from the brand Sweetleaf. depending on the extraction process used, some brands may be sweeter or more bitter than others.
Liquid Monk Fruit can be equally swapped with Liquid Stevia as they have the same level of sweetness.
What is Stevia Glycerite?
Stevia glycerite is a plant based sweetener just like liquid stevia. The difference is in the extraction process. Dried stevia leaves are extracted and processed using glycerin instead of alcohol. Many people prefer this over regular liquid stevias saying it has no after taste. I've tried it and like it just as much as my flavored liquid stevias. It is much thicker and you don't need as much as standard liquid stevia. My favorite brand is Now Foods Stevia Glycerite.
What is Yacon Syrup?
Yacon syrup is extracted from the yacon plant found in Peru and Brazil. It looks and taste much like molasses. It does contain some fructose, but when used in very small amounts, it should not raise blood sugar levels. Perfect for adding a molasses flavor for recipes like caramel sauce or BBQ sauce.
What is Allulose?
Allulose occurs naturally in only a few foods, such as wheat, raisins, and figs. The body isn’t able to metabolize allulose. Instead, nearly all of it passes into the urine without being absorbed, thereby contributing negligible carbs and calories. It works wonderfully in ice creams to keep the texture smooth and soft rather than hard after freezing.
Artificial Sweeteners to avoid
I wrote a post back in 2014 all about 3 Splenda Myths Busted. I got a lot of complaints for those who truly have no issues with artificial sweeteners, but I stand by that post and still believe they are just as addictive as sugar in my opinion and experience.
Artificial sweeteners and brands like Aspartame, Splenda, Sweet-n-Low, Equal, Saccharine, Dextrose, Sucralose, etc contain carbs even if they say they are calorie free. They cause your blood sugar to spike and raise your insulin. Steer clear and don't be fooled by these misleading sweeteners.
Sweetness levels in Sugar Free Sweeteners
- Stevia is 300 times sweeter than white sugar
- Monk fruit is 300 times sweeter than white sugar
- Erythritol is 70% as sweet as white sugar.
- Allulose is 70% as sweet as white sugar.
- Xylitol is just as sweet as white sugar.
How to Reduce Aftertaste
I've learned over all these years of perfecting my sweet sugar free recipes, that in order to reduce an aftertaste effect, using two kinds of sugar free sweeteners helps balance each other better avoiding any aftertastes. Often in my recipes you will find the bulk I use to replace sugar, is using erythritol and to avoid that cooling effect, I only use a small amount, but to bring up the sweetness I add liquid stevia.
It works well to cancel out any aftertaste of either sweetener and get the right sweetness level for my low carb and keto desserts.
Favorite New Low Carb Sweetener by Sweetleaf
Better than Sugar is a new product created by the brand Sweetleaf which makes all the flavored liquid stevias that I love. I've been doing it for years in my recipes combining both erythritol and stevia to make the perfect combination and they've created it as well. They have a confectioners as well as a granulated. The reason I like it is that it balances the bulk needed as well as the perfect amount of sweetness. It's a good match one to one for white sugar.
Best Sugar Free Sweetener for making:
Cookies- Granulated Sweeteners work best to give a nice crunch in the cookie.
Muffins, Cupcakes or Cakes- Confectioners sweeteners with liquid sweeteners to mask any aftertastes.
No Bake Recipes, Mousse or cheesecakes- Liquid sweeteners so there won't be any grainy texture.
Breads- A small amount of granulated sweetener to balance the savory flavors.
Drinks- Always use liquid sweeteners to easily dissolve in your beverage.
The Best Sugar Free Keto Sweetener Conversion Chart
I've been creating sugar free recipes for the last 15 years using many different sweeteners. My conversion chart below is written from my vast experience with experimenting with all these sweeteners. You may see many of these conversion charts online, but they are not all the same and some I've seen I greatly disagree with. You can trust my keto sweetener conversion chart as the most accurate and precise sugar free sweetener conversion chart and the last one you will ever need for all your keto baking.
Thank you so very much for this comprehensive information. I am new to sweetener swapping and made some very inedible mistake. I really appreciate your hard work on this.
I have never tried to learn Keto, until I found your fb page. You make everything so easy to learn and make!! Thanks Brenda!!
The sweetener chart is very helpful. Thanks.
Noticed errors/typos on the erythritol row. You said to use twice as much erythritol as sugar, so 1/2 sugar = 1 c erythritol. But the first three columns are off. I think you accidentally used "tablespoon" when you meant to use "teaspoon" in the first two columns. The third column shows 1T sugar = 1/4 c erythritol when it should be 2T or 1/8 cups.
Can't wait to try your recipes.