What’s the Best Sweetener for the Keto Diet?

Here’s a question I’m often asked: What’s the Best Sweetener for the Keto Diet?  Everyone is looking for the best zero calorie, low-carb, keto sweetener.

Healthy Sweeteners for Keto Dessert Recipes

Most Keto Diet recipes call for sugar alcohols like xylitol or erythritol (that’s what Swerve and Lakanto are made of) to sweeten low-carb desserts. Those types of sugar alcohols are not an option for me as I can’t digest them. If you can tolerate sugar alcohols that’s great. However, if you have an autoimmune disorder (MS, celiac disease, Hashimoto’s, diabetes, etc) or any type of gut issue I would be incredibly careful using sweeteners like Swerve and Lakanto. For those with autoimmune issues, minding your microbiome is a top priority. Research shows that a healthy gut is the key to a healthy immune system.1

Sugar Alcohols and Gut Health

Why are sugar alcohols so disruptive to gut health? The reason is two-fold. First, these zero-calorie sweeteners are polyols (4-carbon sugar alcohols). They can be very difficult for some people to break down, disrupting digestion and causing severe gut dysbiosis, Second, this type of sweetener contains corn.

Swerve and Lakanto Contain Corn

Xylitol is a zero-calorie sweetener made from birch. However, the majority of keto sweeteners, like Swerve and Lakanto are made from corn, a food that is highly allergenic and incredibly hard on my system. I think it’s interesting that so many folks who used to be on a grain-free Paleo Diet, have now switched over to the Keto Diet and are now consuming desserts made with large amounts of corn-based sweeteners. If you’re one of those people I’d love to hear from you about this change and if it was positive or negative for you.

What’s the Best Sweetener for the Keto Diet?

The best sweetener for the Keto Diet is stevia. I’ve found that stevia doesn’t cause digestive distress when I use a pure form that does not contain corn, erythritol, and other ingredients that are highly processed, difficult to digest, and allergenic for people with autoimmune disorders.

Keto Diet Recipes Sweetened with Stevia

I use stevia in very small amounts. A little goes a long way! The main issue with stevia is that some people find it has a bitter aftertaste. When I pair it with strong flavors like coffee, chocolate, or citrus I can mask that aftertaste very effectively.

Sugar-Free Keto Brownies Recipe

My Sugar-Free Keto Brownies recipe is a total labor of love for my readers on low-carb high-fat (LCHF) Keto Diets. If your digestion is at all compromised, be careful because the recipe contains erythritol. Sadly, because of the sweetener, they are not something I can eat, but Mr. Pantry loves them! My Keto Nut-Free Zucchini Bread recipe is another one of those recipes that I’ve created for those of you on a sugar-free diet, but that I myself don’t eat.

Sugar-Free Keto Dessert Recipes with Stevia

There you have it! The best sugar-free, low-carb sweetener is stevia. If you have an autoimmune disorder, it’s perfect for you. Here are some of my healthy low-carb recipes sweetened with stevia!

My Favorite Keto Sweeteners

You are one of the first websites I check when I have questions!


62 responses to “What’s the Best Sweetener for the Keto Diet?”

  1. Dear Elana, I am your follower for years now and on many occasions your advice and recipes saved the day.
    I too always about sweeteners. I use pure honey, coconut blossom nectar or birch tree xylitol which is quite expensive but I have severe allergic reaction after digesting corn, gluten or soya. Stevia unfortunately makes my stomach turn. I wonder what’s your opinion about Finnish Xylitol from Birch tree.
    I still get allergic reaction time to time which takes days to clear but I am unable to pin it.

    • Petra, thanks for your comment and question! When you use stevia is it in the pure liquid form? Or the powdered type that is in a base of corn? Per xylitol, not really some I can digest but works for some folks :-)

  2. I’ve just discovered your recipes and site, Elana. I thought Lakanto would be great for hubbs, newly diagnosed with diabetes and more. I had no idea it spiked blood sugar and could cause digestive issues. It seemed too good to be true, that it’s basically “free sugar” (I’m dairy and refined sugar intolerant, and need to do low-fat.) Now I’ll have to hunt for monkfish powder. I look forward to trying your recipes and I appreciate your insights. Thank you.

    • Mary, thanks for your comment and welcome aboard! The problem with Lakanto is that while it claims to be monk fruit it is primarily made of corn-based erythritol. Unfortunately many products that claim to be made of monk fruit consist of mostly erythritol which is very hard on the gut. LMK if you have any questions about this or other things :-)

  3. Elana, thank you so much for the site and recipes I’ve come to love following you! I wholly agree about Erythritol on my system. Unfortunately I also cannot tolerate stevia. Do you have a conversion you recommend for your recipes for monk fruit?

    • Danielle, so glad to be on this healing path with you! I haven’t used monk fruit, if you do beware and make sure it is pure and does not contain erythritol :-)

      • I use pure monk fruit powder in my baking and 1 teaspoon is equal to 1 cup sugar (be sure to whisk in well with almond flour etc.).
        I wish I had seen this post prior to shopping yesterday – I recently switched from paleo to keto and thought I would try Lakanto monk fruit.; I used a little then read the back of packet – only 1% monk fruit (darn!).

  4. Hi Elana, thank you for all your valid info. I find I am very sensitive to sugar alcohols Like Erythritol . Would Steviol glycosides be considered the same as this is in many products . Thanks

    • Vanessa, great question! Since stevia is so very strong and you can only use around 1/2 teaspoon of stevia per recipe I don’t think it’s an issue. The concern for me is eating cups of corn, which I see in so many keto dessert recipes in the form of erythritol that folks claim is monkfruit and such. I see many people very confused about these products and wish they would be clearly labeled as the corn that they are.

  5. I found this article while searching for corn free keto sugar substitute. I have celiac and corn allergy. I’ve been doing Paleo for years and feel great and my healthy weight hasn’t changed. But my hubby who eats junk food packed on some pounds recently. Not wanting to buy a new wardrobe for the guy, said I would do keto with him. The first month I felt great even better than Paleo. Lots of energy and even better clarity. Then I thought I’ve done so good. I’ll add in some keto baked goods. Not knowing what I did. I was sicker than sick for 2 weeks. My husband thought it has to be something other than the food. Nothing’s changed. Doing keto but still avoiding dairy. Oh my goodness the erythritol was the thing. Stopped all of that and now back to my healthy self. Hope my story helps someone else. Also to note. I’ve done keto for 6 weeks and haven’t really lost any weight, even being in ketosis. So don’t know what that means, but just an FYI

    • Amy, thanks SO much for sharing about your experience with erythritol. It is very toxic for those of us with gut issues. Glad you figured it out and have recovered :-)

      • As mentioned in an other post I recently switched from paleo to keto (purely for weight loss – I did lose 10kgs in the first two weeks and think it was primarily due to not eating desserts or snacks of any kind (did Diet Doctor 2-week trial). I found that adding desserts (keto recipes) stopped the loss immediately. I also did not eat dairy (subbed coconut cream and goat cheese where applicable).

        • Liz, I know a lot of people who use keto sweeteners like erythritol and report that they spike blood sugar and promote weight gain :-(

    • Hi, Amy. I don’t know if it’s ok to mention other sites, but I’m finding a lot of great info from Dr. Eric Berg. He has several videos on why you might not see weight loss, even in ketosis. The Intermittent Fasting piece has been important for me, in addition to keto, to help reverse insulin resistance, reduce fatty liver, then lose fat elsewhere. For me, keto was awful, until I learned additional information from Dr. Berg. There’s so much more to it than high fat, low carb, for me, anyway.

      I always cross-reference his info with Elana’s, as I have developed a trust with Elana’s site. The recipes and nutrition info have been on target for me for a couple of years now. Thanks, Elana.

  6. Thanks so much Elana, for speaking about Erythritol in the Keto world. I follow a few Keto recipe blogs and shocked by the hundreds of recipes and commenters who enjoy them, all made with Erythritol. I felt like the only ‘wierdo’ (I’m diagnosed Celiac in 2007) who can’t have any Erythritol. Major gut issues instantly. Thanks for admitting, you can’t digest. Good to know it’s a corn product, also a histamine-producer for me.
    Monkfruit: yes, one more vote for Monkfruit. We have a GF/Keto commercial baker who sells incredible pastry at San Diego Farmer’s Markets, and she primarily uses monkfruit, never Erythritol. I get some monkfruit powder from Amazon, it is from China, but I figure I use so little, only sporadically.

    • QueenJellyBean, I love all of your comments! Thanks for being a longtime reader on this healthy path with me. Appreciate your thoughts on erythritol, I know so many people with autoimmune issues and gut issues who have used it for years, unknowingly suffering. Let’s keep spreading the word about this :-)

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