“Can you use artificial sweeteners on keto?” is a question I see getting asked a lot in online health groups.
Natural ones, such as honey, have carbs in them, which is obviously not good if you follow a keto diet. In addition, some of the low-carb ones have fillers that could add to the carb count. Others can also trigger digestive problems.
People tend to gravitate to artificial sweeteners instead but are they good or bad for your low carb diet? Let’s find out.
Artificial Sweeteners on Keto?
What Are Artificial Sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners, also known as sugar substitutes, are chemicals used to sweeten certain foods and beverages. These sweeteners mimic the taste of sugar although they are not actually sugar.
Related reading: No Added Sugar Diet For Immense Health Benefits
A lot of products that we encounter every day have artificial sweeteners in them. These include diet sodas, candies, chewing gum, and even toothpaste.
While some sweeteners have calories in them, the amount required for them to sweeten a food or beverage is very small. You will end up consuming almost nothing at all.
As stated by Dr. Christopher Gardner, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University,
“While they are not magic bullets, smart use of non-nutritive sweeteners could help you reduce added sugars in your diet, therefore lowering the number of calories you eat. Reducing calories could help you attain and maintain healthy body weight, and thereby lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.”
Since the sweeteners have low-calorie content, people who are trying to lose weight often use these sweeteners in favor of sugar. But is using artificial sweeteners on keto a good thing?
Artificial Sweeteners Could Lead to Cravings
Recently, more and more health professionals are discovering that artificial sweeteners can actually have negative effects on health. In one study, it was found that these sweeteners could actually cause some people to gain weight.
This comes as a surprise to a lot of people as it’s hard to figure out how a sweetener that supposedly has no calories can lead to weight gain.
But a new study at Yale’s School of Medicine has found that artificial sweeteners do not actually fool the brain into thinking that they are sugar. Instead, these sweeteners will make the brain crave high-calorie foods, which is why some people ended up gaining weight.
After conducting experiments on mice, scientists have found that consuming sweeteners could trigger a change in the brain. This change leaves the animals intensely craving for real sugar, which may be the same for humans.
From this, we can say that adding artificial sweeteners on keto diet is not a good idea. Instead of helping you lose weight, it might just make you crave more high-calorie foods that will not be helpful for your diet.
Related reading: 5 Healthy Snacks That Kill Sugar Cravings
May Affect Good Gut Bacteria
One of the recent discoveries about artificial sweeteners is that it may have the tendency to disrupt the balance of good bacteria in our gut.
As you may already know, the bacteria in your gut play an important role in your body’s overall processes. They protect you from infection and produce nutrients that are beneficial for your immune system.
When you consume artificial sweeteners, they will travel undigested into your digestive system. Therefore, they will pass out of your body with no changes at all.
Before, scientists thought that these sweeteners would have no effects on the body. However, recent studies reveal that these sweeteners could actually change the balance of good bacteria in our gut.
Related reading: Is A Low Carb Diet Bad For Your Gut Bacteria?
After feeding artificial sweeteners to animals, scientists discovered some changes in their gut bacteria. They have particularly used Splenda for this study, one of the most popular artificial sweeteners used in some low carb and keto recipes.
In another study, scientists have found that when a mouse consumed saccharin, a type of sweetener, the number of beneficial bacteria in its gut has reduced.
The researchers also discovered that people who are fond of adding artificial sweeteners to their food have a different profile in their gut bacteria compared to those who don’t.
Best Low Carb Sweeteners For Keto
Despite the negative effects of artificial sweeteners on the body, there are a few low carb sweeteners that you can still enjoy on your keto diet. Here are some of them.
· Stevia – Stevia is derived from a plant called the Stevia rebaudiana. It’s a non-nutritive sweetener and this means it has an extremely small amount of calories and carbs. In fact, some studies show that stevia may help lower blood sugar.
· Erythritol – Erythritol is a naturally occurring compound that works by stimulating the sweet receptors in your tongue in order to imitate the taste of sugar. This sweetener is about 80% as sweet as the real sugar but contains only 5% of calories and 4 g of carbs per teaspoon. Therefore, it’s one of the best artificial sweeteners on keto diet.
· Allulose – Allulose is similar to fructose, a type of sugar that naturally occurs on sweet fruits. This low-calorie sweetener contains only 0.4 calories in every gram. In addition, when the body absorbs allulose, it will not covert it to glucose. Therefore, this sweetener is virtually calorie-free.
· Monk Fruit Sweetener – this sweetener is derived from monk fruit, thus the name. Depending on its concentration, the monk fruit sweetener can be 100 to 250 times as sweet as sugar. But the best thing about this sweetener is that it has no carbs or calories, which makes it a great option for your keto diet.
You can see from the information above that using chemical artificial sweeteners on Keto is not a good idea.
Following a keto diet requires limiting your intake of carbs in order to maintain ketosis. Therefore you have to be very mindful of the type of sweeteners you use.
Just because they are advertised as low carb does not really mean they are good for your diet. The zero carb or low carb sweeteners listed above are the safest option for keto.
However, they must be used in moderation and be added to a healthy and balanced diet in order to achieve your goals of losing weight.