The Best Keto Sweeteners That Are Low on the Glycemic Index
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Here’s what you need to know about the glycemic index and the best keto sweeteners.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food causes your blood sugar level to rise. Foods with a high GI number are quickly digested and absorbed causing a rapid rise in blood sugar. Often, but not always, foods with a high GI have highly processed carbohydrates and refined sugars.
Foods are ranked on a scale from 0 to 100. For example, a saltine cracker has a GI of 72, whereas a skinless baked potato has a 94! Foods with a low GI are digested and absorbed at a slower rate and result in a minimal or less of a rise in blood sugar levels. Low GI foods are typically higher in fiber, protein, and/or fat.
Finally, foods with very few to no carbohydrates (meats, fish, eggs, and avocados) do not have a GI value. This means that they do not cause a rise in blood sugars. These are best for the keto diet!
In other words, no carbohydrates = no GI = no effect on blood sugar, insulin, and ketosis.
Choosing low glycemic index sweeteners–or just low GI foods in general–will help you stay on track with your keto diet. Low GI foods can make it easier to keep blood sugars stable, lose weight, and feel full.
Some of the benefits of low-GI diets include:
- Improves insulin resistance. Some studies have shown that nutrition & lifestyle choices which incorporate a low GI diet are effective in managing Type 2 Diabetes.
- Lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Despite the common myth that high-fat diets increase bad cholesterol, several studies have found that it actually improves cardiovascular disease risk.
- Helps ease the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Some studies have demonstrated a connection between a low-GI diet and a reduction of metabolic syndrome symptoms including hypertension and abdominal obesity.
Here’s why it’s important to use the keto sweeteners that are low on the glycemic index.
Low-carb, high-fat diets like the ketogenic diet are centered around foods with a very low GI. But one particular food type that continually raises eyebrows is alternative sweeteners. Although the majority of these types of sweeteners have a very low GI, they are by no means all created equal (pun intended 😉).
Generally, there are three classifications of sweeteners: natural, sugar alcohols, and synthetic (a.k.a. artificial).
Below is a breakdown of common sweeteners and where they fall on the GI. Note that similar to honey and agave, popular keto sweeteners like erythritol and stevia are also found in nature.
That said, even though honey, agave, and maple are natural sweeteners, they will elevate your blood sugar level, insulin, and kick you out of ketosis. All three have pretty high GI numbers.
Keto-Friendly Sweeteners Chart
What should you look for on keto sweetener labels?
When you purchase a keto sweetener, aim for the pure form rather than one with fillers. Avoid being swayed by the product name, like Splenda and Stevia in the Raw. Always check the ingredients on the packaging for sneaky carbs.
If you see fillers like maltodextrin or dextrose, put the sweetener back on the shelf! Maltodextrin and dextrose are hidden carbohydrates that will spike your blood sugar and potentially could kick you out of ketosis!
Which keto sweeteners will prevent blood sugar spikes?
By a long shot, my favorite keto-friendly sweeteners are Erythritol, monk fruit, and Stevia. These sweeteners are all naturally derived, have little to no effect on blood sugar levels and insulin. They also have minimal gastrointestinal or laxative side effects (which can be experienced with some sugar alcohols).
Craving candy? Check out which keto gummy bears are safe and which ones to avoid unless you want some unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects. 🥴
Allulose is also at the top of the list of keto sweeteners. Some small studies have shown that Allulose may help lower blood sugars when it’s consumed with high GI foods.
In addition, these natural keto sweeteners do not affect the good bacteria in the gut, which is a concern with synthetic or artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners can potentially have negative impacts on your health.
Is it okay to use sweeteners on the keto diet?
Most people on keto actually find that the craving for sweets goes away. In fact, many don’t use any sweeteners at all! However, if you do use sweeteners, choose natural ones with the lowest GI, and avoid (or limit) artificial sweeteners as much as possible.
Luckily, we use a lot of low glycemic index-friendly keto sweeteners in our keto dessert recipes! You don’t have to go without when you really get a craving. 🙌
If your goal is weight loss, even natural, zero-carb sweeteners may impair your progress. They can lead to cravings and overeating. If you find that you’re having trouble staying on track, try eliminating all sweeteners for a couple of weeks and see if this helps.
Otherwise, choose your keto sweeteners wisely and keep rockin’ that keto lifestyle!