If you’re trying to stay on a healthy diet low on carbs, you’re probably trying to limit sweeteners as much as possible. But, it’s not always easy to avoid something sweet when those cravings hit, especially when you’re trying to enjoy some coffee.
So, when you feel the need for a sweetener, just take care to choose one that will fit in your diet and not cause you discomfort. Doing this could take a bit of research, and we may be able to help you with this. Here are some of the best sugar-free sweeteners below and some information about each one.
Sugar alcohols are some of the most common sugar-free sweeteners out there. So, naturally, when you are looking for a low-carb option, you will find these. However, these sweeteners are carbohydrates, but your body often does not absorb these the same way as other carbs, so let’s take a look at some of them.
Erythritol is found naturally in some fruits and vegetables as well as fermented foods. This is a sugar alcohol that has five carbohydrates per teaspoon and zero calories. This is a sugar alcohol with no effect on blood glucose and a glycemic index of zero.
Though well tolerated by the body, high doses can cause stomach discomfort, so daily doses are recommended to be limited to one gram for every kilogram of body weight. Unfortunately, you will have to use more erythritol than sugar as it is only about 70% as sweet. This sweetener is a keto-friendly coffee sweetener.
Xylitol is a little sweeter than sugar and is a sugar alcohol that is sourced from the fibers of certain plants. This natural sweetener tastes much like sugar but with no calories and very few nutrients. This sweetener does possess some use for dental treatment and osteoporosis, as well as being used in some cosmetics and some medicines.
Though an excellent sweetener, xylitol should be used in moderation as high doses above 65 grams are associated with diarrhea. Though some may suffer from as low as 40 grams, so lower the dosage if it seems to be bothering you. Often it simply takes a few weeks for the body to adjust to the consumption of xylitol.
Xylitol will not significantly affect blood glucose with moderate consumption with a glucose index of 13 and only three calories in a gram. This makes xylitol a very keto-friendly option for a good cup of coffee
Mannitol is a natural sugar alcohol sweetener often found in products made for those with diabetes. However, this sweetener can be hard to find on the store shelves on its own. But, if you do, it is a great keto-friendly sweetener.
Mannitol has only 1.5 calories to the gram and a glycemic index of only two, so it is unlikely to cause a significant increase in blood glucose. However, at 50% of the sweetness, it is not a particularly low-calorie option. So, if you can find it, mannitol is a good choice for your low-carb coffee, but not necessarily low-calorie.
There are some other varieties of sugar alcohol called sorbitol, lactitol, and maltitol. Unfortunately, each of these affects blood sugar levels, and caution is needed with many low-carb and zero-carb products that contain them. A lot of these products contain maltitol but exclude it from the total net carbs.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that is over 200 times sweeter than sugar. It’s an extract from an herb called stevia glycosides. Stevia is a non-nutritive sweetener, so it contains no calories, carbohydrates, or nutrients. Also, it will not raise your blood pressure.
However, it shouldn’t be used by anyone taking medication for high blood pressure or diabetes. It can also cause stomach discomfort for some people. However, for most people, it still remains one of the best sugar-free sweeteners out there and has been shown by the World Health Organization to contain no harmful effects and has been approved for use in the EU as a calorie-free sweetener for years.
The sweetener comes in liquid or powder form, but sometimes the powdered form contains other sweeteners, such as dextrose or maltodextrin. These sweeteners can have calories and hidden carbs, so it’s best to avoid the powdered form of this sweetener when possible.
Finally, is Stevia a good option? Yes! Stevia is a great keto-friendly coffee sweetener.
Yacon Syrup is a natural sweetener from the tuberous roots of the yacon plant native to the Andes in South America. This root has a history of use as a medicine stretching back centuries. To turn the Yacon root into a sweetener, the roots are pulverized to release the juice, which is then evaporated until it becomes a thick, dark sweet-tasting syrup with a consistency similar to maple syrup.
Yacon syrup is composed of fiber inulin and fructooligosaccharides, which give the syrup its sweetness. Unfortunately, its high fiber content does mean consumption should be limited to only a few teaspoons in a day to avoid an upset stomach.
Yacon syrup has long been recognized as a great sugar substitute for those living with diabetes. It has a very low glycemic index of one and does not cause blood glucose spikes. Also, yacon syrup is thought to possibly lower insulin resistance.
Yacon helps the absorption of some minerals such as calcium and contains antioxidant properties. Also, the syrup is thought to support a healthy gut biome as well as contain potassium which is great if you are dealing with the “Keto-flu.”
Unfortunately, yacon syrup does contain six grams per tablespoon of sugar carbs, so it may be best to consider it as a treat instead of as your only sugar substitute. So, read on for some more keto-friendly options.
Monk fruit, or Luo Han Guo, is a fruit originating from China and northern Thailand. This fruit has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for obesity. The monk fruit contains compounds that are called mogrosides, and these are several hundred times sweeter than sugar.
However, these mogrosides are calorie-free as well as carb-free and isolated from the fruit to make sweeteners. These monk fruit sweeteners contain no calories by themselves but check the product ingredients carefully. Some of these products are made with other sweeteners as well that do have some calories, such as inulin.
This means to avoid any sweeteners that contain dextrose or maltodextrin, as well as other miscellaneous additives and sweeteners. So you know you have a good product, try to choose one that contains only monk fruit and ingredients you know, such as if you’re okay with only a few calories of inulin. A few good sweeteners containing monk fruit are Purisure Monk Fruit Extract (100% monk fruit), NuNaturals Organic Plant-Based Sugar-Free, Stevia & Monk Fruit Sweetener (monk fruit and stevia), NOW Foods Monk Fruit Liquid Organic (monk fruit and 11% organic alcohol).
With no carbs or calories and a glycemic index of zero, monk fruit sweetener is one of the best keto-friendly, natural coffee sweeteners out there.
Inulin is a natural fiber that comes from numerous fruits and vegetables, but the most common source is chicory root. This is a great choice for a keto sweetener, even though it is all carb. Specifically, inulin is a prebiotic fiber, so it isn’t digested before it gets to the colon. Also, the prebiotic means it’s good for gut health.
Unfortunately, though keto-friendly and low on calories with only 1.4 calories to the gram, inulin has only 10% the sweetness of sugar. For a little sweetness, a glycemic index of zero, and some added health benefits, inulin is a good keto-friendly choice for your coffee.
Tagatose is a common monosaccharide or simple sugar found in many products. It is nearly as sweet as sugar, 92% specifically, and has similar characteristics. Unfortunately, a relatively high carb content compared to many other options is one of them.
Tagatose has 35 carbs and 150 calories for every 100 grams and a glycemic index of three. It is not the worst option for a low-carb sweetener, but it is not the best keto-friendly option for your coffee either.
Berries are some of the lowest carb fruits there are, and fortunately, they are also packed with vitamins and minerals. Given this fact, there are actually a variety of freeze-dried berry powders on the market that are a great option for sweetening and adding a delicious fruity flavor to all of your beverages.
Keep in mind that not all berries are born equal; blueberries contain more carbs per gram than many other berries. Generally, you will not have to use much powder to achieve a sweet brew, so whichever berries you do like will probably be a great, natural keto-friendly sweetener.
Lucuma powder, often known as the egg fruit, is derived from a fruit native to South America. Rich in many vitamins and nutrients, it is often used as a natural sweetener and flavoring in healthy smoothies and other beverages.
However, it is not very keto-friendly, with about four grams of carbs for every tablespoon of lucuma powder. Plus, sweetening a beverage like coffee suffers from a relatively weak sweetness compared to sugar.
This sounds like a great-tasting natural option, but you have to be careful about what dark chocolate you choose. Most dark chocolate is made with some amount of sugar, and some are made with sugar alcohols. Avoid products with sorbitol, maltitol, or others that raise blood glucose levels.
If you choose to try dark chocolate as a coffee sweetener, stick to 80% or higher dark chocolate with minimal added sugar. This will be a little bitter, but it will still add a delicious flavor to your coffee and just a little keto-friendly sweetness.
Fruit juices are a sweet and an obvious natural alternative for sugar in many cases, but you probably are already aware fresh fruits are high in carbs. Unfortunately, fruit juices are as well. This does not mean you need to avoid them completely, but as a daily coffee sweetener, it may not be a keto-friendly choice.
A few sources recommend dried fruit as a natural sweetener to use as an alternative to sugar. Unfortunately, though dried figs and dates are sometimes recommended for paleo diets due to their relatively low calories, these dried fruits are high in carbs. So, if you are trying to keep a low-carb diet, these are best avoided.
Rice malt syrup is natural and nearly fructose-free, but it is still not a good choice for someone on a low-carb diet. It contains eight grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. Rice malt syrup is also not low calorie at 60-75 calories per tablespoon. This sweetener is not good for a low-carb or keto diet.
Raw honey is a very nutritious natural sweetener, but it is 40% fructose. In addition to this, it is not uncommon for honey to have added sugar. Honey is not ideal for low-carb diets as it is high in carbohydrates at 17 grams per tablespoon. It is not low calorie either; it has 64 calories per tablespoon. Raw honey is healthier than sugar, but it is too high in carbohydrates to be keto-friendly.
Coconut palm sugar is natural and high in zinc, magnesium, and calcium. However, the sugar contains mainly sucrose. This is a sugar made up of half glucose and half fructose.
Therefore, coconut palm sugar is not really low carb or keto-friendly. It is a natural sugar, but it has the same number of carbohydrates and calories as table sugar, which are too high for low carb or keto diets.
Maple syrup is a healthy, natural sweetener, being high in calcium and vitamins A and B while containing less net carbohydrates than coconut palm sugar or honey. It can be used on a low-carb diet, but be careful how much you use, especially if you have a 20-30 gram carb limit. It contains 55 calories and 13.5 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. Maple syrup is not considered keto-friendly because it is basically sugar, so not a low-carb coffee sweetener option.
Date syrup works as a substitute for sugar and does have the advantage of containing minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, and iron. It has 21 calories and six grams of carbohydrates in a teaspoon. Although date syrup is a natural sweetener, it is not a good choice for those on a keto diet because it will raise your blood sugar level.
Molasses is a nutritive sweetener that is quite high in nutrients. It is a healthy alternative to refined sugar. It contains potassium, B vitamins, calcium, copper, and iron. Molasses is obtained during the sugar refining process as a by-product and tastes sweet but also bitter. If you use this sweetener, make sure it is unrefined and organic.
Molasses has 47 calories and 12.2 carbohydrates per tablespoon. There are other sweeteners that are better on a low carb, low calorie, or keto diet, but blackstrap molasses is acceptable in small amounts. So for the occasional cup of coffee, go ahead, but not an everyday coffee sweetener.
Though often considered natural, high fructose corn syrup is not good for anyone on a low carb or keto diet. It is one of the worst sweeteners you could use. It has 14.4 grams of carbohydrates and 53 calories in a tablespoon. So, if you have even a little bit, it would be hard to maintain ketosis. High fructose corn syrup is also linked to a number of diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. This is most definitely not ket-friendly!
Agave syrup has become a rather popular natural sweetener and is easy to use in place of sugar, especially in coffee where it is easy to mix in. but, it is not actually a good choice for people on keto, sugar-free, or low carb diets. It has one and a half times the calories of sugar and is 90% fructose. So, it is not good for your metabolism or keto diet.
There are a lot of ways to sweeten your coffee, so if you are looking for a low-carb option, don’t worry. There are a number of great-tasting keto-friendly ways to sweeten that morning brew. So, start experimenting and see what suits your tastes.