While it is perfectly fine to follow a ketogenic lifestyle without consuming any keto-approved sweeteners it is good to know there are in fact options for preparing keto desserts or for baking keto bread and other keto baked goods.
As a general guideline ALL sugars need to be avoided on a keto diet. This includes:
- (raw) honey
- date syrup
- rice malt syrup
- maple syrup
- coconut palm sugar
- agave syrup
Sugar = sugar, even if it is labeled by manufacturers as a ‘healthy option’ or for example used in a Paleo diet. The list above only shows a small portion of known sugars, for a list of non-keto ingredients, including the many types of sugars, please go here.
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, maltitol, sacharine, acesulfame-K and all sweeteners with added dextrose or maltodextrin also need to be avoided. These are chemically processed and may cause cravings, weight gain, bloating, severe gastro-intestinal issues and migraines. In short, they are really bad for health and do not belong in a healthy lifestyle, keto or otherwise.
The following keto-approved sweeteners, provided they are clean brands, are generally safe to use:
- Luo han guo (monk fruit)
- Xylitol (be aware though it can be lethal for dogs)
- Inulin-based sweeteners
Preference for any of these sweeteners is based on its usage and on personal taste. You can find a very helpful guide to the different types of sweeteners here.
A general word of warning with regard to keto sweeteners:
It is a fact natural or keto sweeteners (or food products containing them) are very commonly used by many people living a keto lifestyle. The argument in favour of the use of these NNS (non-nutritive sweeteners) such as the earlier mentioned stevia, erythritol, monk fruit etc is based on the fact that it does not raise blood sugar. That last fact is correct for a lot of people (but please note: not all people) and can easily be tested at home. However, they can still raise insulin levels.
A common mistake people make is that if blood sugar does not go up from a specific food, neither will insulin. This fact is not correct: there are plenty of foods raising insulin levels through a completely separate pathway. This is also why food scientists work with two sets of indexes: glycemic load index and insulin index. Because it is not possible, unlike blood sugar, to test your insulin at home, there is no way of knowing how you would react.
Another thing to consider is the cephalic phase insulin response. This is the basic response of the pancreas to tasting/seeing/smelling/thinking about sweet foods: creating insulin because it expects incoming glucose. And any type of sweetener, whether natural or artificial, can cause this.
Lastly: natural sweeteners, much like artificial sweeteners, can cause gastro-intestinal issues for some people and sugar cravings with regular use and/or in large amounts.
It is always best to severely limit all natural sweeteners and preferably to not use them at all, especially when trying to overcome insulin resistance.