Getting and staying in ketosis is hard work – let’s not sugar coat the facts. As humans, we are hard-wired for sweetness. In other words, we love sugar! And we live in a world that panders to that desire.
Sugar is everywhere. Yet it is the primary thing that you need to avoid if your goal is to get into the state of ketosis. Fortunately, there are alternatives to sugar that can allow us to somewhat satisfy our sweet tooth without suffering the sugary consequences. These substances are zero calorie and very low in sugar but they give you the sweetness that you desire.
One of the most popular sugar substitutes is erythritol.
What is Erythritol?
Erythritol is not an artificial sweetener. Rather it is a naturally occurring zero calorie sweetener that is found in some fruits as well as some fermented foods.
Erythritol has been discovered by many followers of the keto diet. It is very popular as a sugar substitute and is used in many recipes. It is about 75 percent as sweet as sugar, which means that you will have to use a little more than the equal measure of sugar when substituting in recipes. However, Erythritol contains just 5 net grams of carbs per hundred grams.
This sugar alcohol is commonly used in low carb versions of chewing gum, ice cream and cookies. Apart from its zero calories and low carb content, the other great benefit of Erythritol is that it will virtually pass through your body without being metabolized. Almost 90 percent of the Erythritol that you put into your body will beg excreted with your urine.
Erythritol is classified as a sugar alcohol. It has been approved as a food additive in the United States.
Benefits for Keto
Erythritol is calorie free. This makes it a very safe food additive for people who are trying to lose weight. With it there is no fear of ‘calorie creep’ which could see you going into a caloric surplus.
As mentioned, Erythritol is not metabolized by the body in the way that most foods are. It will not cause the insulin spike or cause fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. As a result, it won’t contribute to your weight gain.
Erythritol is especially beneficial to diabetics. This is because it will not cause the dangerous insulin level spikes that you get with regular sugar. As a result, it can help diabetics to eat a more normal, and tasty, diet.
In addition, Erythritol has been shown to be a powerful antioxidant. As well as fighting off destructive free radicals, it will help to make blood vessels stronger. The blood vessel damage that is normally associated with high sugar intake will be reduced, which makes it very beneficial for Type 2 Diabetics.
Research also shows that Erythritol has the ability to improve our dental health. They can prevent browning and plaque, while improving overall oral hygiene. Researchers believe that a large contributing factor is the ability that this sugar alcohol has to retain moisture and control tooth destroying bacteria.
Are There Any Side Effects?
As mentioned previously, Erythritol is a completely natural compound. It does not carry any serious side effects however some people may experience some minor discomfort when using it as a sugar substitute.
There have been reports that people have experienced the following minor digestive issues when taking Erythritol . . .
- Stomach rumbling
These effects are only evidenced when Erythritol is used in large amounts. The amounts required in sugar substitution recipes should not cause these problems.
All sugar alcohols will cause an increase in the amount of water in the intestines, and Erythritol is no exception. If there is too much water in the intestines, this can cause diarrhea. However, you will have to take excessive amounts of Erythritol for this to occur.
It should be noted, however, the combination of Erythritol and fructose has led to diarrhea. Fructose is fruit sugar, so you should avoid taking an Erythritol containing food in conjunction with fruit.
We should also note that many foods that contain Erythritol as a sugar substitute also contain high levels of fat and trans-fat. So, you should be especially careful about making sure that your food choices are healthy when looking for foods that use Erythritol.
Because Erythritol is only about three quarters the sweetness of regular sugar, it is sometimes combined with other sweeteners. However, this is not a good idea. When combined with such sweeteners as aspartame, most of the benefits of using Erythritol are reversed.
Some people have claimed that, due to the fact that the body does not digest Erythritol, it can lead to weight gain because the body will think that you are still hungry after having eaten the Erythritol containing food. However, the body doesn’t process nonalcoholic sugar alcohols the same way that it does other sugars. The result of this is that when you take Erythritol into your body, you will not trigger the release of the hormones that affect appetite.
The reality is that your body does not register that you have consumed any food when Erythritol passes through your body.
In summary, Erythritol is very safe in the vast majority of the population. You will have to consume more than 35 grams of it for any negative effects to evidence themselves.
So, Is It Safe for Keto?
When it comes to sweet foods, Keto enthusiasts either have to keep a wide berth or substitute the sugar component with a substitute. Erythritol is a smart choice because it is natural, low carb and zero calories. Some other sugar substitutes, such as sucrose, contain more calories than Erythritol.
You don’t need to worry about the sugar alcohol designation of Erythritol. It does not contain any ethanol, so there is no danger of it getting your tipsy! Sugar alcohols only have that title because their structure is similar to alcohol.
The bottom line is that Erythritol is a preferred sugar substitute for followers of the keto lifestyle.
Guidelines for Use
Because Erythritol is not as sweet as regular sugar, you will need to experiment a little with the exact amount that you use when substituting it in recipes.
You should not consume more than 18 grams of Erythritol in a day.
Erythritol is available in powder and granulated form. You’ll find that the granulated option delivers a crunchier end product than the powder. You’ll want to experiment with the two types to see which you prefer.
Erythritol will burn faster than other sweeteners, or than regular sugar. This may affect your cooking time, so be aware of it.
Erythritol is one of the best sugar substitutes that you can reach for. It is very low in carbs, zero calorie, sweet and, in moderate amounts, side effect free. It is also completely natural. It also doesn’t produce the type of after taste that comes from such sweeteners as stevia.
We wholeheartedly endorse the use of stevia as a sugar substitute for people who are following the keto lifestyle!
The Problem with Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners have been hailed as a magic way to enjoy sweet foods while cutting back on calories.
The average American consumes 24 pounds of artificial sweeteners a year in order to not get fat.
But that simply is not the case.
In fact, artificial sweeteners are a major culprit in the fat equation. Rather than being a part of the solution, they are a big part of the problem.
Recent research confirms that artificial sweeteners play havoc with the hormones that control our hunger. When you start eating a food that contains artificial sweeteners your body is expecting calories. When instead it gets zero calories sweeteners, your body starts to crave food.
Artificial sweeteners also desensitize our taste buds. That means that you will end up eating more of a food that contains artificial sweeteners. And, because of their very sweetness, they encourage sugar cravings and sugar dependence. It makes just as little sense to replace sugar with artificial sweetener as it does to replace cigarettes with a non tar version – the addiction is still there; in fact, it gets worse!
In addition, artificial sweeteners make it much harder to control our blood sugar levels. It does this by changing the bacteria in our GI tract.
5 Great Erythritol Enhanced Recipes
#1. Neapolitan Fat Bombs
Protein: 0.5 grams
Carbs: 0.6 grams
Fat: 11 grams
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup cream cheese
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 25 drops liquid Stevia
- 2 tablespoons erythritol
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 strawberries
In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, coconut oil, sour cream, cream cheese, erythritol, and stevia. Blend using an immersion blender or hand mixer until smooth.
Divide the mixture evenly into three bowls. Add the cocoa powder to one bowl, the strawberries to another bowl, and the vanilla to the third bowl. Mix all three mixtures using an immersion blender or hand mixer.
Spoon the chocolate mixture into a mold and freeze for 30 minutes. Add the vanilla mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and freeze again for 30 minutes.
Repeat with the strawberry mixture. Freeze for one hour. Remove from the molds and enjoy!
#2. Vanilla Cheesecake Fat Bombs
Protein: 1 grams
Carbs: 1 grams
Fat: 9 grams
- 1 cup softened cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup Erythritol
- ¾ cup heavy cream
In a stand mixer or a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and erythritol on low speed until smooth (about 2 minutes), scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add half of the cream and continue to mix for another 2 minutes.
Let the mixture sit for a few minutes (3 to 5 should be fine) to let the erythritol dissolve. Then add the rest of the cream and mix at medium speed for 3 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and forms stiff peaks. Spoon into silicone molds and let set in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Remove from molds and store in the refrigerator.
#3. White Chocolate Butter Pecan Fat Bombs
Protein: 0.5 grams
Carbs: 0.5 grams
Fat: 30 grams
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 ounces cocoa butter
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons powdered erythritol
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch Stevia
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil, cocoa butter, and butter. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the erythritol. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of stevia. Add in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle the chopped pecans into a silicone candy mold.
Pour the white chocolate mixture into the molds. Put the fat bombs in the freezer for 30 minutes. When set, transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
#4. Spiced Cocoa Coolers
Protein: 0.7 grams
Carbs: 1.1 grams
Fat: 5 grams
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream or coconut milk, warmed slightly
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons Erythritol
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 15 to 20 drops Stevia extract
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or with a hand mixer. Pour into an ice cube tray or silicone mold and freeze for 1 to 2 hours. Transfer to an airtight bag or container and store in the freezer.
#5. Chocolate Chip Fat Bombs
Protein: 4 grams
Carbs: 5 grams
Fat: 18 grams
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sweetener
- ¼ cup low carb chocolate chips
Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to mix the cocoa and water to form a thick paste. Add the butter, cream cheese, and sweetener. Mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Use your hands to form the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a plate lined with parchment paper. Freeze for one hour. Store in an airtight container in the freezer and remove from the freezer 10 minutes prior to eating.