Everyone who’s following the keto diet knows that sugar should be completely avoided.
Going over your maximum carb level can easily throw you out of ketosis, and even the slightest bit of sugar can tip you over the edge.
But when those sugar cravings kick in, it can be tough to fight them.
Luckily, there are several sugar substitutes that keto dieters can reach for that are almost entirely void of carbs and calories, and that includes sucralose.
But what is sucralose, exactly? And is it appropriate for the keto diet?
Let’s find out…
What is Sucralose?
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is used to substitute sugar.
That said, it’s actually made from real sugar – or “sucrose” – that has had its three hydrogen-oxygen groups replaced by chlorine atoms.
It’s calorie- and carb-free and is about 600 times sweeter than table sugar.
Sucralose passes through the body nearly entirely undigested because it lacks digestibility properties that sugar possesses.
More specifically, about 85% of sucralose is not absorbed by the body.
Because sucralose is made from actual sugar, many people might think that’s a natural sugar substitute, though it’s not.
Foods That Contain Sucralose
If you ever go to a coffee shop or restaurant, you’ll likely see a container of different sugar packets.
Some are real sugar, while others might be something called “Splenda,” which is a popular brand name for sucralose.
In addition to being widely available to add to coffee and any other type of beverage, sucralose is also found in many food and beverage products, including:
- Diet soda
- Frozen desserts
- Gelatin products
You can even bake with sucralose instead of sugar thanks to sucralose’s heat-stable properties.
Many sugar substitutes are not able to be baked with because they lack this particular trait.
Because of how much sweeter sucralose is than sugar, however, you’ll need to make adjustments with the quantities used in recipes.
Is Sucralose Keto-Friendly?
Since sucralose is free of calories and carbs, it would seem that it is indeed keto-friendly.
By swapping real sugar for sucralose, you can effectively reduce the number of carbs and calories that you consume every day.
This, in turn, can help you stay in a state of ketosis.
But the brand that you buy matters. For example, even though Splenda is a popular brand name for sucralose, there are other sugars in this particular product.
More specifically, Splenda is made up of a combination of sucralose, dextrose and maltodextrin.
Maltodextrin has 4 calories per gram, which is the same amount of calories as regular table sugar.
But what’s worse is that it also has a high Glycaemic Index (GI) from anywhere between 106 to 136, which is similar to table sugar.
This could be a problem for the keto dieter because foods that are high in GI can cause a sharp increase in blood sugar levels.
The dextrose in Splenda is also problematic, as it has a GI of more than 90.
Having said all that, sucralose on its own doesn’t appear to have an effect on blood glucose levels.
But, there are some better low-carb sugar alternatives aside from sucralose that may be better suited for the keto diet, which we’ll get into later.
Side Effects of Sucralose
Since sucralose is an artificial sweetener, it makes sense to consider whether or not it is safe to consume.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sucralose is safe. The organization approved the use of sucralose for human consumption in 1998 after having over 100 studies conducted on its safety.
That said, sucralose might not necessarily be void of any side effects.
In fact, some studies suggest that sucralose should not be recommended as a sugar substitute. Although most of this product is not digested and absorbed in the body, a small portion is.
And it’s this part that can cause some adverse health effects.
Some studies have shown that sucralose can be associated with obesity, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, heart problems, diabetes, unhealthy blood insulin levels, and gut inflammation.
It may also negatively affect gut microbiota.
Sucralose Alternatives For Keto Diet
Sucralose might be free of carbs, but because of its artificial nature, it might be best to look for alternatives that are more natural, including the following.
Erythritol – Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that has only 0.24 calories per gram and tastes nearly identical to sugar. Most of the erythritol consumed is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and excreted without being digested, so it doesn’t have the same negative effects that table sugar does.
Erythritol not only has virtually no carbs or calories, but it also doesn’t raise blood sugar levels or insulin.
Xylitol – Xylitol is also a sugar alcohol that comes from corn or birch wood. It has 2.4 calories per gram, which is almost half of regular sugar. It also does not increase blood sugar or insulin levels like sugar does.
Xylitol may actually have some positive effects on health, including helping the body better absorb calcium and even fighting cavities and tooth decay. Just make sure to keep it away from dogs as it is highly toxic to them.
Monk fruit – One teaspoon of monk fruit sweetener only has 0.4 grams of carbs, making it a great sugar substitute. Monk fruit sweetener – also known as ‘luo han guo’ – comes from the monk fruit and contains natural sugars. It gets its sweetness from antioxidants called “mogrosides” and is anywhere from 100 to 250 times greater than table sugar.
Stevia – This sweetener comes from a natural plant source and contains zero calories. There are no known adverse health effects, and it does not cause spikes in blood sugar levels. In fact, it may actually be linked to a reduction in blood pressure and may even help fight diabetes. Stevia comes in powder or liquid form and can be added to baked goods.
Sucralose is definitely a potentially effective sugar substitute for the keto dieter.
It’s got no calories or carbs, so satisfying your sweet tooth without indulging in sugar and spiking your blood sugar levels is certainly made easy with sucralose.
But because it’s an artificial sweetener that may be partially absorbed into the body, it could pose certain negative side effects, even though the FDA has deemed it to be safe for consumption.
The good news is that there are plenty of other sugar substitutes that keto dieters have at their fingertips.
These other sweeteners are natural and are void of carbs and calories, making them great candidates as sugar substitutes for the keto diet.