Naturally occurring or naturally derived sweeteners has a much better ring to it than artificial or chemically made sweeteners, right? We agree. When you are wanting to improve your health with ketosis, there's not a good reason to use chemicals or additives.
We are not fans of adding sweeteners to foods just to keep them sweet. But sometimes you need a dessert on the keto diet! And you're definitely not going to ruin your ketosis by splurging on a sugar filled dessert.
Instead you can use natural sweeteners in keto dessert recipes that are even reasonably healthy. This will quench those sugar cravings AND save your ketosis.
Naturally occurring sweeteners are those found in nature or plants and the sweet part is extracted. It is usually not chemically altered. Stevia and chicory root fiber are two popular natural sweeteners for the keto diet - let's talk about why...
In this article we are not mentioning sugar alcohols, although they technically are naturally occurring.
All Natural Sweeteners Approved for the Keto Diet
Stevia for Keto
Stevia is found naturally in plants and then extracted. There are multiple forms of stevia, Rebaudioside A being the most popular. Rebaudioside A is the sweetest with the least bitter aftertaste. It will also be more expensive - if you find a cheap brand, check if it has a different rebaudioside.
Stevia is 200-400 times sweeter than sucrose.
Does stevia affect ketosis?
Stevia has not shown to have effects on blood glucose or insulin levels.[i] Stevia contains no calories and therefore is okay for ketosis.
Note that some stevia products contain fillers like maltodextrin to enhance the products. Maltodextrin has a higher glycemic index than sugar and will ruin your ketosis. Maltodextrin beware and always read the nutrition labels, it is not okay for ketosis! Stevia products with maltodextrin will also probably be cheaper.
Stevia Side Effects
There are no known side effects of stevia.
However, when purchasing a product containing stevia, be sure that it has not been mixed with artificial sweeteners or other chemicals that could produce side effects.
For example, truvia contains erythritol which in large doses can cause digestive issues.
Stevia has been approved by the FDA in 4 mg/kg bodyweight per day. This would equate to only 9 packets of stevia.
Certain types of stevia have been known to have bitter aftertastes.
Recommended Stevia Product
It can be difficult to find a stevia with no added or artificial ingredients, but this 365 Whole Foods Brand stevia does it! This stevia has no added ingredients. It comes in a liquid form and will only require a few drops per serving depending on the recipe.
Chicory Root Fiber for Keto
Chicory root fiber, which is also called inulin in some products, is becoming more and more common for health foods. It's in my favorite low-carb ice creams from the store (Halo Top and SO no sugar-added coconut milk ice creams).
Chicory root fiber is actually half as sweet as sucrose. It is not typically used as a sweetener by itself since it is not as sweet as sugar. It is usually combined with other stronger sweeteners like stevia or erythritol. For a complete run-down on chicory root fiber, read our post about it here.
Does chicory root fiber affect ketosis?
Because chicory root fiber is a fiber, it does not count toward net carbohydrates. The sweetening effects are awesome and incorporated in the fiber, without being metabolized as sugar in the bloodstream and affecting your ketosis.
It actually may have beneficial effects on hemoglobin a1c which has effects on blood sugar control.[ii]
Chicory Root Fiber Side Effects
Chicory root fiber used in moderation actually has a lot of health benefits for your gut as a prebiotic.
However, eating too much fiber can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Remember, the total recommended daily amount of fiber is 25 grams.
Recommended Chicory Root Fiber Product
This is the chicory root fiber product that we use. It is affordable and is pure chicory root fiber (inulin). Inulin is naturally fibrous and therefore fluffy. We like to use it in recipes calling for powdered sugar, mixed with a few drops of stevia to match powdered sugar sweetness.
Monk Fruit Extract for Keto
Monk Fruit Extract has really hit the ground running as a natural sweetener.
Monk fruit extract is actually 300x as sweet as sugar, making it a great sweetener to combine with less sweet sweeteners like erythritol and chicory root fiber. However, similar to stevia, because monk fruit extract is so sweet some manufacturers will combine it with weaker sweeteners that can affect blood glucose.
Does Monk Fruit Extract affect ketosis?
Monk fruit extract does not, on it's own, affect blood glucose levels. However, it is the possible combination with maltodextrin that can cause increases in blood glucose. The affect on insulin is a little more complicated - but to quickly summarize, it could actually help normalize the insulin response in insulin resistant persons.
For a complete run-down on monk fruit extract, read our post about it here.
Monk Fruit Extract Side Effects
Monk fruit historically has been used to aid in treating ailments. It has also been found in research studies to help with disease: it could help fight cancer, diabetes and inflammation.
Recommended Monk Fruit Extract
This is the monk fruit extract we recommend. It is pure monk fruit extract, as opposed to several products that are combined with a different sweetener. Use sparingly, as it is much stronger than sugar.
Adding stevia, monk fruit extract and/or chicory root fiber are safe for the keto diet.
They will not affect your ketosis, especially if used sparingly. If stevia, monk fruit extract or chicory root fiber have long term side effects they have not yet been discovered or are inconclusive.
Note that the keto diet decreases your cravings for sugar. If you are eating a lot of sweeteners just because we say it's okay, you are not getting the full benefits of reduced cravings of the keto diet.
In our opinion, desserts using keto-approved sweeteners should be eaten sparingly. Try going without the sweeteners for a few days! 🙂
[i] Stephen D.Anton, Corby K. Martin, Hongmei Han, Sandra Coulon, William T. Cefalu, Paula Geiselman, Donald A. Williamson. "Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels"
[ii] Mie Nishimura, Tatsuya Ohkawara, Toshiyuki Kanayama, Kazuya Kitagawa, Hiroyuki Nishimura, and Jun Nishihira. "Effects of the extract from roasted chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) root containing inulin-type fructans on blood glucose, lipid metabolism, and fecal properties"