Konscious Keto Guide to Sugar Alternatives and Conversions

The idea of avoiding sweet treats and pastries, alone, may be a powerful enough deterent to keep you from starting a ketogenic diet. Sugar is beloved by many and hard to eliminate for some.

Of course, we understand the trepidation: the most synonymous component of keto is ditching sugar. But one of the most exciting parts about learning more about the ketogenic diet is figuring out that we don't have to give up our favorite cakes, as long as we use keto-friendly sweeteners in our recipes!

Whether you prefer monk fruit, stevia, or any other keto-friendly sweetener, there is undoubtedly an option that will resemble sugar so much that you won't even miss the traditional sweet cane in your cakes, cookies, and other decadent low-carb baked goods.

We mainly hear about stevia when people speak of keto-friendly sweeteners, but many other blends are often combined to create stellar sugar-free sweeteners.

While there are many excellent sugar alternatives, the ubiquitous nature of sugar in the standard American diet requires that keto dieters remain vigilant to avoid unwittingly consuming unwanted sugar in their diet—the stuff is in everything!

Sometimes consuming sugar comes down to being unaware of the many names the commodity's called. Here are some of the names you may find on labels that are synonyms for types of sugar:

  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose
  • Dextran
  • Diatase
  • Glucose
  • Galactose
  • Fructose
  • Maltose
  • Ethyl Maltol
  • Lactose (yes, like that found in some milk)
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor syrup
  • Sorbitol
  • Sorghum Syrup
  • Agave Syrup

In addition to some of the buzzwords or food processing practices we advise to be wary of, here are some additional ways companies sneak sugar into our foods.

  1. Choose whole veggie products over packaged variations. It's a lot more likely that there are hidden sugars in processed and flavor-enhanced veggie crisps than an actual bowl of fresh cucumbers topped with keto-friendly Italian dressing.

  2. Discern between natural foods with a focus on sugar content. A ketogenic diet emphasizes eating dense nutrition and consuming healthy fats and proteins, but not all healthy foods are equal.

    For instance, agave and certain fruits are abundant in vitamins and nutrients. However, another commonality between the two touted healthy foods is their high sugar content, which is obviously no good on keto.

  3. Choose your fruit-filled food options wisely. Some may find this suggestion as a controversial suggestion, if fixated on the outdated Standard American Diet pyramid, virtually the antithesis of what we follow on keto.

    However, it is vital to select low-glycemic fruits like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries instead of pineapples or mangoes, to keep carbs low.
  1. Beware of store-bought yogurt. Creamy and fruit-infused yogurt is delicious, but you may be shocked to learn that many brands contain as much sugar as an equal serving of sugar-sweetened ice cream! Look for unsweetened plain Greek yogurts, like Fage 5% or brands like Two Good, which use stevia as a sweetener.

  2. Read condiment labels. Sure, a little ketchup here or a spoonful of tartar sauce with sugar-sweetened relish may seem harmless, but the carbs add up quickly.

    Condiments are notorious dietary landmines that can easily make a salad, or any other seemingly healthy food, a conduit for much more sugar or other unhealthy ingredients than you intended to eat.

  3. Pay attention when drinking calories. It is essential to remain hydrated on keto, but some drinks aren't the best options when the goal is keeping carbs low. Water is your best beverage option.


    However, if you want a flavored beverage, check labels to avoid added sugars or harmful artificial sweeteners.

    Try keto-friendly brands like Zevia, which is sweetened with stevia, or options made by companies like Hint sparkling, flavored water, or even use basic zero-carb seltzer water and flavor it with Water Drops to create your own soda creation.

    However, remain cautious of brands that sweeten their sugar-free sodas with dangerous artificial sweeteners, like aspartame or sucralose, that may actually stall your weight loss, increase sugar cravings, and may also lead to other long-term health issues.

  4. Select your cereal wisely. It's hard to deny that cereal is a significant part of our childhood, adolescent, and adult comfort-food choices. And the fantastic news is that we can still enjoy keto-friendly variations that mimic high-sugar versions without sacrificing taste or the nostalgic feelings that cozying up to a bowl of sweet cereal can evoke.

    Here are some of our favorite keto cereal brands to consider:
  • HighKey
  • The Cereal School
  • Magic Spoon
  • Catalina Crunch
  • ProMix Nutrition Unflavored Protein Puffs
  • Wildway Keto Hot Cereal Cups
  • Julian Bakery ProGranola
  • Vanilla Almond Cereal (Sola)
  1. Source sauces carefully. Similar to salad dressings, your choice of sauce can make or break your macro budget in minutes!

Also, in addition to following some good practices when choosing sweeteners based on the products they contain, beware that some foods notoriously include hidden sugars or unhealthy sugar alternatives. Here are some of the common culprits:

  • Ketchup
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Peanut Butter
  • Sports Drinks
  • Protein and Energy Bars
  • Yogurt
  • Granola
  • Tomato Soup
  • Soda
  • Salad Dressing
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Milk
  • Canned Soup
  • Cured Meats

Check labels to ensure that your sauces are low in sugar and contain as few ingredients as possible. Also, as a general rule, the fewer ingredients that you can pronounce on packaged foods, the better.

Here are some of our favorite keto-friendly sauces:

  • Rao’s Sauces
  • Primal Kitchen Sauces
  • Yo Mama’s Keto Sauce
  • Hollandaise Sauce
  • Alfredo Sauce (no added sugar)
  • Keto Cheese Sauce (no added sugar)
  • Bearnaise Sauce
  • Ranch Dressing (no added sugar)

Long-term side effects of consuming excessive sugar

Although the taste of cane sugar is enticing, as we mentioned, there are some significant side effects of its long-term and excessive consumption.

From an increase in the risk of heart disease to an enhanced chance of overweight or obesity, high blood pressure, or inflammation in the body, sugar can prove quite unhealthy.

Fortunately, the ketogenic diet and how it balances sugar in the body allows it to function correctly and avoid glucose spikes and drops throughout the day.

With that said, those with a sweet tooth are likely to think twice about going keto if they feel they have to eliminate sweets altogether. Fortunately, many of the sugar alternatives we’ve mentioned work amazingly in low-carb confections—some are even undetectable in recipes.

Here are the base ingredients of virtually any keto-friendly sweetener and how they often affect the digestive system:

  • Erythritol
  • Xylitol
  • Stevia: (many brands enhance the flavor of their stevia products, eliminating the sweetener's notoriuosly bitter aftertaste.
  • Monk Fruit
  • Allulose
  • Chicory Root
  • Mitosweet (Bulletproof)
  • Natvia (stevia and erythritol blend)

Here are some of our favorite keto-friendly sweetener brands:

  • Stevia (liquid or granulated) | SweetLeaf, 365 Brand, Wholesome Organic, etc.)
  • Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener
  • Swerve
  • Sukrin
  • ChocZero
  • Pyure
  • Bochasweet
  • Isomalt

We're very fortunate to have access to many sugar-free sweeteners, and there are also some sugar alternatives that we advise avoiding. Here are the options to skip on a ketogenic diet:

  • Coconut Sugar
  • Honey
  • Palm Sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Maltitol
  • Sucralose
  • Splenda (contains dextrose and maltodextrin)
  • Agave Syrup
  • Cane Sugar (table sugar)
  • Dates
  • Dextrose
  • Maltodextrin

Now that you know the many sugar alternatives available on keto, your question may be, do all sugar alternatives measure 1:1 in recipes? Great question, and one that can make or break your efforts at successful keto-friendly baking.

We'll share the keto sweetener conversions related to the amount of sugar called for in recipes below as a guide to get you baking, sugar-free, with confidence.

Sugar Substitute Conversion Chart

Sugar

1 tsp

1 Tbsp

¼ cup

cup

½ cup

1 cup

Erythritol

1 ¼ tsp

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp

⅓ cup

⅓ cup + 2 Tbsp

⅔ cup

1 + ⅓ cup

Xylitol

1 tsp

1 Tbsp

¼ cup

⅓ cup

½ cup

1 cup

Swerve

1 tsp

1 Tbsp

¼ cup

⅓ cup

½ cup

1 cup

NuNaturals New Stevia (liquid)

⅛ tsp

⅜ tsp

1 + ½ tsp

2 tsp

3 tsp

2 Tbsp

Sukrin 1:1

1 tsp

1 Tbsp

¼ cup

⅓ cup

½ cup

1 cup

THM Gentle Sweet

⅓ tsp

1 tsp

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp

2 Tbsp

3 Tbsp + 2 tsp

6 Tbsp

Pyure All-purpose Blend

½ tsp

1 + ½ tsp

2 Tbsp

2 Tbsp + 2 tsp

¼ cup

½ cup

Natural Mate All-purpose Blend

⅜ tsp

1 + ⅛ tsp

1 Tbsp + 1 ½ tsp

2 Tbsp

3 Tbsp

6 Tbsp

Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener

1 tsp

1 Tbsp

¼ cup

⅓ cup

½ cup

1 cup

MonkSweet Plus

½ tsp

1 + ½ tsp

2 Tbsp

2 Tbsp + 2 tsp

¼ cup

½ cup

Just Like Sugar
Table Top

1 tsp

1 Tbsp

¼ cup

⅓ cup

½ cup

1 cup

Besti Monk Fruit Allulose Blend

1 tsp

1 Tbsp

¼ cup

⅓ cup

½ cup

1 cup

Besti Monk Fruit Erythritol Blend

1 tsp

1 Tbsp

¼ cup

⅓ cup

½ cup

1 cup

Erythritol
(any brand)

1 + ¼ tsp

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp

⅓ cup

⅓ cup + 2 Tbsp

⅔ cup

1 + ⅓ cup

Allulose (any brand)

1 + ¼ tsp

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp

⅓ cup

⅓ cup + 2 Tbsp

⅔ cup

1 + ⅓ cup

Xylitol (any brand)

1 tsp

1 Tbsp

¼ cup

⅓ cup

½ cup

1 cup

Now that we’ve covered some common sweetener conversions, let’s get to some of the delicious recipes we can make with these keto-friendly gems. Here are some delicious and sweet-tooth worthy keto recipes we recommend trying to stay satisfied and on track on a low-carb, high-fat diet:

Our noted recipes are snippets of the plethora of keto-friendly sweets that we can achieve with any of the sugar alternatives mentioned. Plus, Pinterest, Google, and YouTube are excellent sources to locate virtually any dessert you may desire while keeping carbs low.

Sugar Alcohols and Gastrointestinal Health

Although there are many commonly-used sugar alternatives, some affect certain people differently than others. The effects of some sugar alternatives may agitate the digestive system if used in excess.

We dedicated an article concentrated on the various keto-friendly sweeteners and their common side effects, which you can read here to help you discern which options may be best for you, along with an article about the differences among sugar alcohols and their impact on the body which you can read here.

Besides the desserts mentioned, we also offer customized dessert recipes via our personalized meal plans that are tasty and low in carbs.

Simply take our 30-second quiz to access your tailored weight loss meal plan, including mind-blowing desserts, to start losing weight by eating delicious keto recipes.

Is it possible to overdo sugar alternatives and compromise ketosis?

Consuming large amounts of keto-friendly sweeteners won't likely compromise ketosis, but doing so may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, so proceed with caution as you try new options to identify your tolerance level.

Plus, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention our delicious and dessert-like KetoSlim Shake—a fantastic addition to any keto plan. We offer our premium whey-based shake in banana creme brûlée, creamy chocolate, and strawberry cheesecake. Our shake is a tasty meal replacement that tastes like a sinful ice cream chake, yum!

Summary

While sugar is undoubtedly off limits on a ketogenic diet, we're so fortunate that we exist when there are so many healthy sugar-free, healthy options to choose to fulfill our desire for sweets while remaining in ketosis.

Some sweeteners will work better in different applications, and that is something to consider as you choose which to use in a given recipe. Icings usually call for confectioners sweetener, while brown sugar and sugar-free syrups are typically called for when topping pancakes or baking some ooey-gooey keto cinnamon rolls.

Experiment and explore the abundant options in-store and online and you’ll likely be amazed by the wide array of choices that perfectly suit your baking and other sweetener needs; the options available will amaze and satisfy any sugar craving you may have and then some.

Sources

  • Cock, P. D. (2012). Erythritol. Sweeteners and Sugar Alternatives in Food Technology, 213-241. doi:10.1002/9781118373941.ch10
  • Milgrom, P. (2013). Xylitol Clinical Studies for Prevention - Xylitol Dose Study (Gum 1). Http://isrctn.org/. doi:10.1186/isrctn73818624
  • Stevia. (2017). Natural Food Flavors and Colorants, 340-342. doi:10.1002/9781119114796.ch93
  • Servant, G., & Rosenberg, G. (2012). New Developments in Sweeteners. Sweeteners and Sugar Alternatives in Food Technology, 383-396. doi:10.1002/9781118373941.ch17
  • Artificial Sweetener. (2020). Definitions. doi:10.32388/es01ah
  • Acute Effects of the Two Alternative Sweeteners D-allulose and Erythritol on Metabolism. (2019). Case Medical Research. doi:10.31525/ct1-nct04027283
  • Acute Effects of the Two Alternative Sweeteners D-allulose and Erythritol on Metabolism. (2019). Case Medical Research. doi:10.31525/ct1-nct04027283

konsciousketo Admin

At Konscious, we channel our passion for elevated living to create the highest quality and best tasting ketogenic products available. Our mission is to empower you to reach your full potential, so you can look and feel your best, every moment of the day. Konscious is a homecoming: a homecoming to you, to the way your body is built to exist.


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