Sugar Substitutes: Can I Still Eat Sweets On A Low Carb Diet?
When discussing diet foods, the last thing that comes to people’s minds is cake and candy. However, if you’re on a diet, especially a low-carb one, you know how difficult it can be to kick the sugar cravings. Fortunately, there are many sugar substitutes available that can make the transition a little easier. That being said, some sugar substitutes can still affect your blood sugar levels, even though they’re not made of sugar.
Stevia has been in the spotlight for quite a while now. It’s been a popular sugar substitute since the 80s and comes in all forms from white granulated, to brown, and even liquid. Most people find stevia much sweeter than normal table sugar, which means you’ll want to use less of it. In addition to being sweeter, it’s also 0 calories and 0 carbs, making it ideal for people following low-carb diets. Additionally, unlike some artificial sweeteners, stevia doesn’t affect blood glucose levels, making it a great substitute for diabetics or others with insulin resistance. We highly recommend stevia – comes from a South American plant Stevia Rebaudiana.
Xylitol is technically categorized as a “sugar alcohol”, which is the short way of saying that this sweetener carries properties of both sugar and alcohol molecules which allow it to trick your tongue and brain into believing it’s sweet. Some foods like cauliflower, raspberries, and strawberries all contain a small amount of xylitol. Even our metabolisms produce a tiny bit naturally. Unlike some of the others on this list, xylitol still contains calories, but only about 40% as much as regular table sugar. Because xylitol is technically a carb, we can’t call it carb-free, but it’s a popular sweetener in sugar-free gums and candies. It also doesn’t elevate your blood sugar levels, making it a popular choice for those needing to keep a close eye on their blood sugar.
Saccharine is a truly artificial sweetener. It’s a man-made chemical compound designed to act and taste like sugar and is often added to other sugar-substitute products. It’s one of the oldest sweeteners and is mixed with other products because it has a rather long shelf life. You’ll find this sweetener commonly in carbonated diet drinks, or low-calorie snacks. Saccharine can sometimes have a slightly bitter aftertaste, and while it has been a popular no-calorie sugar substitute amongst diabetics and insulin-resistant individuals, recent studies have shown that saccharine actually raises your blood sugar. When possible, we recommend avoiding saccharine. Go for one of the more natural substitutes in this list.
Erythritol is another sweetener found in nature. Fruits like grapes, pears, and watermelon all contain erythritol. However, companies have been making it artificially since the 90s. Like saccharine, manufacturers often add erythritol to other sweaters to amp up their sweet flavors. It’s another 0 calorie product but is technically a carb, so you’ll want to make sure you’re not consuming heaping spoonfuls of the stuff. Erythritol is very popular amongst people who struggle with insulin resistance as it doesn’t elevate blood sugar like other sugars and sweeteners.
Monk Fruit is one of our favorite sweeteners on this list. Monk Fruit sweetener comes from a small round fruit native to southern China called (you guessed it) a monk fruit. The sweetener is created from the juice of the fruit after the seeds and skin are removed. It’s 0 calories and acts as a 1:1 sugar substitute which means you can use it in the same portions as you would regular sugar in your favorite recipes. It has 0 carbs and doesn’t have any known negative side effects, meaning it works great for people following a low-carb diet or watching their blood sugar. Like stevia, it comes in white granulated, brown sugar, and liquid forms and one study suggests that it can even reduce stress!
In recent years, aspartame has become a controversial sweetener. However, it’s the most popular artificial sweetener on the market and is consumed at an alarming rate. In fact, you are likely to know someone who has eaten or slurped down a beverage containing aspartame within the last few hours. There have been extensive studies conducted over the last few years to determine whether or not aspartame can have a long-term negative effect on your health, though most have been inconclusive. That being said, we don’t actually recommend aspartame because it has been linked to increased risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, poor kidney function, depression, and more.
A Note About Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners can really help some individuals kick the sugar habit. However, it’s important to take any of these sugar substitutes in moderation. Some sweeteners can actually contribute to weight gain, and others can cause stomach upset in large amounts.
MealMD Knows the Way!
At MealMD, we create satisfying, nutritious meals packed with all of the ingredients you need to fuel your body. Select from over 75 delicious meals and be ready to focus more on your day and less on your food. Our fresh, never frozen, heat and serve meals are perfect for people following low-carb diets or for those who just want to eat healthier and feel better! Reach out today and find your perfect prescription for health!