The cardinal rule of the keto diet is to avoid simple sugars at all costs.
Even the smallest amount of sugar in the diet can spike blood sugar levels, forcing you to work hard to get back into ketosis in order to revert to burning body fat for fuel.
Instead of gorging on donuts and cookies, treating yourself with a sugar substitutes keeps your blood sugar levels checked.
Having a treat now and again can help keep sugar cravings at bay.
That’s why there are so many sugar substitutes out there that provide the same level of sweetness without the calories or carbs.
You can still bake all of your favorite treats without piling on the carbs and getting kicked out of ketosis.
One of the sugar substitutes available is acesulfame potassium. But what is this substance? And is it good or bad for the keto diet?
Let’s have a closer look at this sugar substitute to determine whether or not it’s something that you should either consider adding to your diet to sweeten things up, or if it’s something to be avoided.
What is Acesulfame Potassium?
Acesulfame potassium is an artificial sweetener that is approximately 200 times sweeter than table sugar.
It’s often used to sweeten food and beverages without adding any calories or carbs.
For this reason, keto dieters might seek it out as a substitute for sugar while still getting a taste of something sweet.
You can find this compound combined with other sweeteners, such as aspartame, in an effort to prevent bitter aftertaste that artificial sweeteners often come with.
Also known as “acesulfame K” or “ace K,” acesulfame potassium passes through the body through the urine without actually being broken down and metabolized.
What Foods Contain Acesulfame Potassium?
Many foods and beverages that people expect to taste sweet may contain acesulfame potassium.
In fact, this sugar substitute can be found in a variety of food and drink products in order to boost their level of sweetness without any added sugar.
Further, acesulfame potassium is often found in baked goods, unlike other sweeteners that are unable to be heated.
Because it is stable when heated, it can be cooked and baked with. As such, you’ll find this sweetener in a variety of baked goods.
Here are some examples of foods and beverages that might contain this potassium compound:
- Diet soda, soft drinks
- Ice cream
- Salad dressing
Of course, you’ll always want to check labels on food products to not only see what the carb content is, but also what other ingredients have been added.
And acesulfame potassium is one of them.
But if you’re looking specifically for the presence of this sugar substitute, you’ll also want to look for its other names, such as acesulfame K and ace-K.
How Does Acesulfame Potassium Work?
The biggest aspect about artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes when it comes to the ketogenic diet is how they affect blood sugar levels.
And based on research, sweeteners hardly cause any changes in blood sugar levels, which is a big reason why keto dieters – as well as others who are looking to maintain a low-sugar and low-carb diet – turn to sugar substitutes.
That said, there is some speculation that artificial sweeteners like acesulfame potassium may actually increase the amount of sugar that the cells of the gut absorb.
Not only that, but it may even stimulate the release of large amounts of insulin.
However, the science isn’t entirely solid on these speculations. Science does not exactly rank it among nonnutritive sweeteners.
Regardless, dieters may want to proceed with caution, as the jury is still out when it comes to the long-term effects of this sugar substitute.
Pros and Cons of Acesulfame Potassium
The advantages of acesulfame potassium are obvious: you can still enjoy sweet treats and drinks without cramming your body full of sugar.
Sweeteners like these can also help you keep calorie levels low that would otherwise be much higher if sugar was a part of your diet.
But we really don’t know the full effects of a sweetener like acesulfame potassium.
As already mentioned, there may be the possibility that it may increase how much sugar is absorbed by cells in the gut.
But more research is still needed to refute or confirm this hypothesis.
Artificial sweeteners may also be linked to other issues.
For starters, it may impede appetite regulation and body weight.
While artificial sweeteners may help to keep calories down and minimize the amount of sugar that a person consumes, it might actually stimulate the appetite, causing a dieter to want to eat more.
This is completely the opposite of what any dieter wants to do.
Some side effects include:
- Mood swings
- Muscle spasms
- Heart palpitations
- Sleep issues
There are even claims that acesulfame potassium may be linked to the development of cancer, as artificial sweeteners in general have been tied to.
But studies have been conducted on the sweetener’s tie to cancer development, and so far no findings have suggested that the two are related.
In fact, the FDA has approved acesulfame potassium as a safe sweetener to be consumed by humans, which is why it is approved to be added to various food products.
Is Acesulfame Potassium Good For Ketogenic Diet?
While there might be some advantages to substituting sugar with acesulfame potassium, there are many other natural sweeteners that can be used instead.
They’re not associated with any negative side effects and are deemed safe for use without causing any spikes in blood sugar levels.
Here are just a few you may want to try instead of acesulfame potassium:
Stevia – This natural sweetener is derived from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant. It’s hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and has no calories. It may even be associated with certain health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity.
Erythritol – This low-calorie sweetener is a sugar alcohol that’s naturally found in certain fruit. It has about 80% of the sweetness of sugar with barely any calories at all. Like stevia, erythritol does not increase blood sugar levels, which makes it a safe and effective sweetener without the potential side effects of artificial sweeteners.
Xylitol – Another sugar alcohol that is often used as a sugar substitute is xylitol, which has 2.4 calories per gram. It also does not increase blood sugar levels, but it has been linked to digestive issues when taken in large amounts. Also, xylitol can be deadly for dogs that consume it, so it needs to be kept out of reach from your furry friends.
If you’re looking for something to substitute for sugar, acesulfame potassium might be an adequate alternative. But it is certainly not the best choice when on low carb keto diet.
With a variety of natural sweeteners available that don’t have many calories and have zero net carbs, you might be better off opting for these alternatives to sweeten your treats without the sugar spike.