Sugar Substitutes: Low Carb Sugar Substitute Guide

Sugar Substitutes: Low Carb Sugar Substitute Guide

Their are a variety of sugar substitutes available in our low carb sugar substitute guide. Sugar substitutes are low carb sweeteners that can be used instead of regular sugar. Real sugar is pure carbohydrates (carbs). So, sugar is one of the main things avoided on a low carb diet. Instead, the goal is to get needed carbohydrates from low carb nuts, low carb vegetables, and low carb fruits.

Most sugar substitutes are intense sweeteners. So, often they provide a really sweet tasting low carb sugar substitute. So when swapping a sugar ingredient in a recipe, you may need to use much less of your sugar substitute.  Some low carb and keto diet recipes will combine one low carb sugar substitute with another to achieve the desired taste.

Sugar substitutes all have their own unique tastes and effects. Some sugar substitutes are plant-based while others are sugar alcohols. So, when choosing your low carb sugar substitute, you may notice that they all have their pros and cons. Because of this, I endeavor to use natural sugar substitutes when possible.

Low Carb Sugar Substitute

Stevia

Pure Stevia is an all natural plant-based low carb sugar substitute. So, it does not cause digestive issues like most sugar alcohols. Therefore, it is a first choice with regards to health and eliminating side effects. However, as a leaf extract, pure stevia can leave you with a bitter aftertaste. 

Erythritol

Erythritol is another low carb sugar substitute. It is a sugar alcohol with the least laxative effect. It is often sold in combination with other low carb sugar substitutes like Swerve (Confection and Granular). Interestingly, it is one of the sugar substitutes that gives only 3/4 the sweetness of real sugar. Another sugar substitute brand provides a nice Stevia-Erythritol Blend.

Sugar Alcohols Guide

Erythritol

Glycerol Isomalt

Lactitol

Maltitol

Mannitol

Polydextrose Sorbitol

Xylitol*

*Xylitol is toxic to animals.

Glycerol

Glyerol or glycerin is not really a sugar substitute. It is often used to add thickness, bulk, or moisture to baked goods and some ingredients. For example, it is often added to vanilla extracts. It has only a small amount of sweetness,  but it can still contribute to your carb intake and increase blood glucose levels.

Isomalt

This is another low carb sugar substitute that can benefit gut health. It has fiber and only half the sweetness and calories of sugar. Therefore,  it is often used in combination with other sugar substitutes. When used in large quantities, isomalt can cause diarrhea, cramping, gas, and bloating.

Lactitol

This sugar substitute is half the sweetness and half the calories of regular sugar. Therefore, you are basically back at square one with this. As a prebiotic, it can be more beneficial to your gut health. Nevertheless, it too can have a powerful laxative effect.

Maltitol

This low carb sugar substitute acts very similar to sugar. While it is better for your teeth, it still raises your blood sugar to a noticeable degree and cause mild digestive upset.

Mannitol

Mannitol is a powdered sugar low carb sugar substitute. It is found naturally in fruits and vegetables. It has a very low glycemic index! Sugar has a glycemic index of 65, while mannitol has a glycemic index of only 2 out of 100. It is an osmotic agent that is used medically to help with renal failure and cystic fibrosis. So, if you have health concerns, mannitol should be evaluated and used only under the care of a physician. It is not the best sugar substitute because it is not very sweet. Therefore, you must use more to achieve the desired sweetness. This results in more calories and the potential for gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Polydextrose

Polydextrose is a combination of sorbitol and dextrose. It has more fiber and bulk than some sugar substitutes. As a fiber,  it can slow down sugar absorption into the blood stream and improve colon health. However, if eaten in excess it can result in a laxative effect.

Sorbitol

Sorbitol is one of the oldest low carb sugar substitutes. While it does not raise your blood sugar levels, it can have a powerful laxative effect in relatively small amounts. Sorbitol is a nice tasting sugar substitute for fruit flavored candies, so it can be easy to eat the whole bag which can result in a “digestive episode.” So, if you are new to sugar substitutes, please proceed with caution until you know your level of tolerance.

Xylitol

Xylitol is a really popular low carb sugar substitute. It is good for your dental health and can prevent cavities. It is commonly used in sugar-free gum and mints. This is my favorite sugar-free gum and they are a real bargain online! Some studies suggest that xylitol is a good prebiotic fiber that can benefit gut health. However, some cons are that it can have a mild laxative effect when consumed in really large amounts. With regards to animals, xylitol is toxic to animals and can cause death if eaten by animals. Therefore, if you have pets, you may want to choose a different low carb sugar substitute.

Conclusion

As you can see, sugar substitutes are available! So, take time to find a low carb sugar substitute that works best for you! I am a sugar snob, so I would rather eat a bland tasting cookie than deal with an really off-tasting one. Therefore, I will let you know when I have made a sugar-snob recipe, so you can add your preferred sugar substitute. However, you too may be interested in learning more about authentically natural low carb sugar substitutes.

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