This is the Ultimate Guide to Low-Carb Sweeteners. You’ll learn which ones to use, and which ones to avoid. 

I’ll explain how to use each sugar-free sweetener and what to look for when you buy them because not all low-carb sweeteners are created equally.

It can be incredibly confusing when you are just starting to live sugar-free or keto. Not anymore with this handy guide.

Low-Carb Sweetener and a stevia leaf in a wooden spoon
The ultimate guide to low-carb sweeteners

If you are new here, you may want to print a copy of the cooking conversion charts. You’ll discover kitchen conversions for metric/imperial, tbsp to ml, temperatures, and even international ingredient names. So no more guessing what a recipe needs.

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How Much Sweetener Should You Use?

A close up of a neon sign

Part of the ethos of living sugar-free and low-carb is to give up the sweet treats regularly and to reset our taste buds. But being able to make a sweet treat occasionally is a deal-breaker for many of you contemplating even starting.

If you do want a cake, a dessert, or a sweet treat, it is better to have a few good sugar-free recipes on hand than to reach for a high-carb snack. With so many low-carb sweeteners now on the market, which do you choose?

Baking Tip 1: Always add sweetener according to YOUR sweet tooth. You may require more at the beginning of your sugar-free journey and less the longer you live low-carb.

When I write my recipes I will always state the quantity of low-carb sweetener I have used to make the recipe but I also add “sweetener of choice, to taste”. This is the biggest variable when it comes to low-carb baking.

Which sweeteners taste best?

Sugar sprinkled in front of a blue background

You will discover in most low-carb and keto recipes the 2 most common sweeteners are erythritol and stevia.

I personally prefer erythritol because it has the closest flavor to sugar. It generally measures spoon for spoon in place of table sugar and it does not raise blood sugars because it is not absorbed and excreted unchanged.

Some people may experience a cooling effect in their mouth because it is a sugar alcohol.

Stevia is incredibly sweet (300 x sweeter than sugar) and can leave a bitter and metallic aftertaste if a recipe has been over-sweetened.

We are all on different parts of our sugar-free journey, so what might taste sweet and sugary to me, might not be nearly sweet enough for you. Always add low-carb sweeteners in the minimum amount that suits your sweet tooth.

Baking Tip #2: If you ever bake a recipe and it doesn’t taste sweet enough, don’t throw it away, it can be salvaged by serving with sweetened whipped cream.

Eventually, you want to cut back as far as you can, so taste each time before the addition of more sweetener. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out.

Don’t worry if at the beginning you may require a lot more sweetener than I have used, eventually, you will use less and less. It just takes time to rest your taste buds.

Why Is It Hard To Give Up Sugar?

A person making eye goggles with her hands

It may take some time to readjust your taste buds to living sugar-free, and is it any wonder? Sugar is now found in 80% of products on our supermarket shelves.

What is astounding is the type of foods that have added sugar. You might expect it to be in desserts, granola, and cereals but tuna? Soup? Bacon? There are also several different names of sugar which just makes it even more confusing when you’re trying to understand reading food labels.

But the real problem is how sugar affects the brain and how it lights up our reward center. As we eat more, we become accustomed to the reward and so seek more.

But by replacing sugar with delicious low-carb sweet treats, you can help reduce your cravings.

Which Low-Carb Sweeteners Do I Use?

There are two main sweeteners I prefer to use – stevia and/or erythritol. I avoid stevia for various reasons (see below) but it is nice when in combination with erythritol.

I interchange between Natvia (stevia/erythritol blend mainly found in AUS, NZ, UK), Swerve (plain erythritol mainly found in the USA and can be bought online worldwide), and very occasionally, xylitol.

I tend to buy the granulated forms of these because they all measure spoon for spoon in place of sugar.

Try them for yourself to see which one suits you best. Much of the choice, like anything, comes down to personal taste.

Baking Tip #3: Always read each label carefully, because even sugar-free sweeteners within the same brand can contain different ingredients or different bulking agents such as dextrose.

Is sugar or honey better, because they’re natural?

There is a misconception that sugar, agave, maple syrup, or honey are better because they are natural.

My response is that these natural forms of sugar and the low-carb sweeteners I recommend are both natural and both processed, yet sugar, honey, and all the other natural forms of sugar will ALL raise your blood sugar.

But what does natural mean?

Tv presenter asking what does natural mean?
What does natural mean?

There are so many natural forms of sugar that are marketed with a natural health claim such as “contains trace minerals” which is misleading.

Many recipes are titled “refined sugar-free“, yet they contain various natural unrefined sugars, all of which will raise your blood sugar accordingly.

And no trace mineral or trace element that may/may not be in one of these natural sugars undoes the damage caused by chronic high blood sugars. The sweeteners I use are natural but without the negative effects of sugar.

Baking Tip #4: Natural forms of sugar such as honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or raw sugar all raise blood glucose.

Low-Carb Sweeteners, I Use


Stevia is one of the most common sweeteners used in low-carb, keto, and sugar-free baking. It is been used for centuries and is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant and does not raise blood sugars.

PROS: Many consider stevia to be the most natural form of sugar-free sweetener. It is available as drops, powder, or granulated. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar so only a small amount is needed and is generally blended with something else to ensure you can measure it accurately.
CONS: Because stevia is so strong it is very easy to over-sweeten a recipe which can result in a bitter and metallic after-taste. 

  • Stevia drops are great to use when you don’t want to add bulk to a recipe such as sweetening water bottles, sauces and whipped cream. Stevia drops are available in various flavours such as chocolate, vanilla, berry etc. Some find stevia drops easily over-sweetens a recipe, but others swear by the drops and love using them. Always read the label for the brand you have bought because each brand may have a different formula to replicate the replacement of sugar.
  • Pure stevia is in a powdered form, and similar to the drops, are great when you don/t want to add bulk to a recipe, but are incredibly easy to add too much and you may end up with a bitter recipe as a result.
  • Granulated stevia is usually blended with erythritol so it measures spoon for spoon in place of sugar. Be careful when you first begin to use stevia because if you use too much you may find there is a slightly bitter aftertaste. So add slowly and taste before each addition of more stevia.
  • The confectioner’s mix is an incredibly fine form of stevia/erythritol so is wonderful for recipes such as fat bombs, where it may be difficult to get the granulated stevia to dissolve. Sometimes the granulated stevia won’t dissolve and ends up sinking to the bottom. The sugar-free confectioner’s mix is also great for sugar-free icing/frosting.
  • Natvia Baking Pack
  • Sugar-Free Icing Mix
  • Natvia Sugar-Free Sweetener
  • Sweetleaf drops
  • Stevia pure powder
image of low-carb keto shop on Amazon with kitchen gadgets

Related recipes: Almond and Orange Flourless Cake, Best keto waffles, Sugar-Free Nutella, Sugar-Free No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake, peanut butter fudge.


I buy the granulated and powdered erythritol which measures spoon for spoon in place of regular sugar, so is an excellent product to use in baking. I find Swerve has the most wonderful ability to dissolve and blend into recipes.

PROS: Erythritol comes in powdered and granulated forms. They measure spoon for spoon in place of sugar so are easy to use in low-carb and keto baking recipes.
CONS: Erythritol is a sugar alcohol and some experience a cooling effect in the mouth when they eat baking made with erythritol.

  • Erythritol is a low carb, non-glycemic, sugar-free sweetener that does not raise blood sugars or insulin. It is made from glucose that has been fermented with a microorganism found in the honeycomb. Erythritol is absorbed then excreted unchanged via the urine. It does not cause the gastrointestinal problems or affect the gut flora that other sweeteners can often cause.
  • Erythritol helps to inhibit bacteria in the mouth.
  • Swerve’s main ingredient is erythritol and a blend of “oligosaccharides and natural flavours.” It tastes just like sugar and measures just like sugar.
  • Erythritol granulated mix
  • Swerve Granular Sweetener
  • Swerve Confectioner’s Sweetener
image of low-carb keto shop on Amazon with kitchen gadgets

Related recipes: Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Avocado Mousse, Chocolate Heaven Cake


Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that has a minimal effect on blood sugars. It is actively beneficial for dental health because it actively inhibits the bacteria in the mouth and it may help with the remineralization of the tooth enamel.

Xylitol may cause stomach upsets if eaten in large quantities. When you consume xylitol, you may experience a cooling effect in the mouth.

It is often found in chewing gums to help fight cavities.

CAUTION: Xylitol is toxic to dogs so keep ALL baking and food that contains xylitol away from your pets. Never feed dogs any baked goods made with xylitol.

  • Pure xylitol powder
  • Xylitol gum
image of low-carb keto shop on Amazon with kitchen gadgets

Monk Fruit

Monk fruit may also be known as Luo Han Guo, and like stevia, is naturally occurring and 200 times sweeter than table sugar. The monk fruit sweetener is made using the pulp of the fermented fruit, which removes the sugars but leaves the sweet taste.

There is no bitter aftertaste with monk fruit and will not raise blood sugars. I have tried monk fruit and am including it because there was no bitter taste that sometimes results with stevia, however, be careful with which brand you buy.

PROS: Like stevia, it is a natural sweetener from plants and is 200-300 x stronger than sugar.
CONS: Like stevia, it has to be diluted so check YOUR brand to see how much to use in place of sugar and what it has been diluted/blended with.

  • Pure monk fruit has nothing added so is extremely strong and potent.
  • Norbu has been blended with erythritol so it measures spoon for spoon in place of table sugar.
  • Swanson PureLo monk fruit is not pure as the name may suggest. It has been blended with inulin and silica.
image of low-carb keto shop on Amazon with kitchen gadgets

Sweeteners I Don’t Use

Coconut Sugar, Maple Syrup, Rice Malt Syrup, Dried Fruit, Honey, Blackstrap molasses 

A bottle of maple syrup
All-natural sugars … are still sugar.

Sorry but these are all forms of sugar. They are not low-carb sweeteners and they aren’t even sugar-free!

When a recipe states it is “refined sugar-free” you can generally read between the lines and know this is code for “we use sugar, just not table sugar”.  All of these will raise your blood sugar.

There are numerous claims that they may have a lower GI. Some have higher protein. Some have added minerals and are natural, but any small micronutrient available does not undo the damage sugar does. Some may be free of fructose but are still high in glucose.

Rice malt syrup, for example, has a high GI of 98 which is even higher than table sugar.

A bowl of dried dates

Dates are 75% carbs so think twice next time you reach for a bliss ball thinking you’re having a healthy treat. Sure it’s better than a bag of crisps, just add them to your daily sugar count and don’t overdo them.

Commercial honey is completely different from raw honey. Some honey even has added sugar. Raw honey does have some health benefits but should not be used in large quantities for baking in the misbelief that honey makes the recipe sugar-free.

All the above are often sold with ‘natural’ labels but sugar and stevia are both natural, both are highly processed but stevia does not raise blood sugar. If stable blood sugar is your goal, then I would avoid all the sugars here.

If you choose to use them because you aren’t comfortable using sweeteners such as stevia or erythritol, just be aware they will raise your blood sugar, weight loss may stall and they may trigger your sweet cravings again.


Nutrition label

Unfortunately, maltitol has a high GI, which will spike blood sugars and may cause stomach upsets. It is commonly used in many low-carb and keto processed snacks, especially low carbs bars.

Maltitol is yet another reason to avoid “fake foods”.

Read the ingredient panel of any low carb bar or sugar-free bar incredibly carefully because maltitol will be in there amongst many other horrid ingredients in small print.

If you have to search through a list of ingredients to find it, that’s another clue to leave it on the supermarket shelf. I cannot begin to tell you how many undesirables are lurking in these low-carb bars.

Agave syrup

A close up of agave syrup

Unfortunately, agave syrup is 70-90% fructose which is similar to high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is to be avoided because it is metabolized in the liver and causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Agave is basically HFCS in disguise. So many recipes and health gurus still use agave in the misbelief it is healthy food.

High quantities of fructose are dangerous because it causes raised triglycerides (the best predictor of heart disease), abdominal fat (the most dangerous type of fat), drives weight gain, and is a contributor to metabolic syndrome. Avoid agave syrup and if you have some in your pantry, go and throw it away.

Sucralose, Aspartame, Saccharin, Acesulfame K

These are all artificial sweeteners that I personally avoid. There are too many conflicting studies to delve into here, both for and against each of them.

Some studies will have been paid for by the food and beverage industry so who are we to believe and trust? Personally, I choose not to use any of these because I believe there are far better alternatives.

Numerous reports are linking these to raised blood sugars, weight gain, depression, abnormal gut bacteria, seizures, blurred vision, and migraines. Aspartame is incredibly controversial with reports claiming it causes cancer and others stating it is completely safe.

It should be avoided by those who have the genetic disorder PKU (phenylketonuria).

Low-Carb Sweeteners Conclusion

It must be an informed choice when selecting which low-carb sweeteners to purchase and enjoy. Many recipes try to trick and fool us into thinking recipes are sugar-free when in fact they use different types of sugar.

Which low-carb sweeteners you choose is completely up to you, I just want you to be aware of what you are choosing and how it may affect you. I completely understand that some of you may wish to continue using sweeteners such as honey, raw sugar, coconut sugar, and dried dates but you must not regard them as sugar-free.

Ultimately the choice is up to you.

Please leave a comment telling us which low-carb sweeteners you use, and why.

Various sugars and sweeteners in glass bowls

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  1. Heather, Mmm... is for Mommy says:

    Great list 🙂 I’m 40 days now totally sugar free and just bought some sweet drops should I decide to have a treat of some sort. Right now, the occasional treat of a few fresh blueberries or a couple of strawberries taste like delicious sugar bombs 🙂

  2. Great summary! I use primarily xylitol and liquid stevia, often a blend of the two. I find that using xylitol for about 75% of the sweetening, plus liquid stevia for the remainder, helps offset the mild cooling effect of the xylitol and the bitterness that can come from using entirely stevia. I sometimes use erythritol, but I dislike the cooling sensation, which to me is much more pronounced than from xylitol.

  3. Thank you!!! Just what I have been looking for and a list I can understand. If only I read this article a few weeks ago, I indulged and ate far too many Healtheries Sugar Free Choc Chips which contain Maltitol, had a horrible night with stomach pains and had gurgling ever since. I have type 2 diabetes and have also found Isomalt is no good either on the digestive system found in some sugarfree mints – I avoid any products that contains these ingredients now and will stick with Stevia have just discovered your website and look forward to exploring and reading more.

    1. You poor thing. And I bet the maltitol was hidden in small print too. Try some Lindt 90% as that is so low in carbs naturally and amazing. I only eat half a square at a time and nibble on it. So much better than those bars you speak of. Even if a chocolate bar does say it’s sweetened with stevia, check the ingredients as it may also contain other things they don’t highlight.

      1. Lindt’s 90% is my favourite go to chocolate too. One square eaten verrrrrrry slowly – superb desert ? HIGHLY recommended. There’s an incredible difference in sugar levels in the Lindt range – is really worth checking the labels. I did try the 99% but that’s really hardcore!

        1. Veronique says:

          LOL! I’m crazy about Lindt 99%! I find the 90% too sweet! Never imagined I’d say this ?

      2. Melanie Best says:

        My problem with Lindt is that a lot of their chocolate contains palm oil. I prefer to eat “Well Naturally” sugar free chocolate 🙂

  4. Suzanne Somers has written many books/recipes about her low-carb eating plan called “Somersizing”. She has a fantastic sugar alternative called “Somersweet”. It’s made from 100% natural sweeteners. It measures spoon for spoon like sugar.

  5. I’m also curious about brown sugar, I’ve found a really great “Noatmeal” recipe that I’ve been making regularly (I just can’t to bacon and eggs every day!) and back in my carb loaded days I loved brown sugar on my oatmeal. Do you know of any good low carb substitutions?

    1. I’m in the US and I have found stevia brown sugar on the shelves here. Have there been any info on it.

    2. Maltodextrin is a GMO form of cornstarch. It is in a lot of products, including food supplements (vitamins). In large quantities it can cause diarrhea & gas. I’d suggest trying the product. If it causes you problems, use something else.

      Swerve brand of erythritol comes in brown sugar version. I buy it at Wal Mart.

  6. Sharon Fosnight says:

    What do you think of Trivia? Seems quite natural to me…

    1. Their claims apparently may be misleading. I personally have never tried it nor is it easy to find clear product information for it to comment fully.

  7. Linda Clevett says:

    Thank you for this well organized explanation of various sweetners. I am joining your September Challenge this year and I’m looking forward to it. I love your site and all the information you provided along with the great recipes.

  8. Hi,I’m Debra
    I’m interested in how gp “ditch the carbs”…I’m REALLY struggling
    with sugary foods..I love carbs but I really want/ need to lose about 60 lbs

  9. hello – amazon doesn’t ship Swerve or Erythritol to Australia. Do you or your readers have any suggestions for reliable Australian stockists.

    1. You’re in luck. Because you are in Australia you can use Natvia. I am in NZ and that is the most common stevia sweetener I use. It’s available in most supermarkets and online.

    2. Hi, Australia Post now have an option called ShopMate that allows you to have an American postal address for companies that won’t post to Australia. They then redirect the parcel to your home address in Australia. Check out the Australia Post website for details/fees.

    3. I am in Australia and I have purchased Swerve through They ship it from the US and postage is very reasonable and service is quick. I buy all my vitamins from them too, including Bitter Melon which I’ve found really helpful with blood sugar levels.

  10. I am determined to do this challenge1 I am type 2 diabetic.. I know this will help.Its the first week and the cravings I know will be tough as I have done it before. Any tips?

    1. Well done for signing up to sugar free September each day I will email you with tips and tricks, how to snack smarter, how to stop the cravings and interesting articles. Join me over on Facebook where everyone will be asking questions and they are all helping each other out. You can do this. 🙂

  11. I don’t eat chemicals. If I want a sweetener I use Maple Syrup, very little, both because I don’t want too sweet, but also because it’s very expensive.

    Eat real food.

  12. Jane Lewis says:

    I really get confused with sweetners and unfortunately tend to stay with Splenda because I know how it taste and works in my food. Do you have a short guide that I could print from this information. I want to stop my Splenda use and have tried the Stevia drops which are powerfully strong. I am confused with the Xylitol, ertythiritol and Mativa. Many Thanks in advance!!

    1. Yes the drops can be incredibly strong and difficult to use. Really it comes down to personal taste. Currently I choose between Natvia and Swerve. They are my preferred brands.

      1. So you don’t say what’s wrong with Splenda, which I like because the taste and use in cooking is quite natural.

  13. Hi Libby, A friend gave me a couple of sugar free sweets made with stevia but they were very sweet and kicked off a sugar craving so won’t be getting them! They were supposed to be liquorice but tasted more like burnt caramel and were very ‘moreish’. I also wonder what your opinion is about impact on body new to giving up sugar – when it tastes sweetness does it sort of prepare for incoming sugar and release insulin or is this only triggered by an actual sugar?

    1. Great question and there is much research on this both dis/agreeing that a sweet taste may trigger insulin release. Some studies also raise the question as to the effect sweeteners have on our gut flora. For me, I have managed to give up all sugar by making the occasional treat using the sweeteners I choose to use. I don’t make them in any large quantity and I don’t make them regularly.

  14. Do the carbs in Swerve count? I read that they don’t because you can’t digest them? I’m keto so want to make sure I’m counting my net carbs right.

    1. Most people don’t count swerve, but rarely some people are extremely sensitive. They tell me they count if suddenly they were in ketosis then they stopped. It could be an incorrect assumption from them, but they started to count anyway.

  15. Hi there, thanks for the great website. I’m about a month into Low Carb eating and your page has loads of useful information and recipes. I also live in New Zealand and am wondering where to best place to buy Natvia is? It gets pretty expensive buying from Countdown!!

    1. Welcome, I love it when another kiwi discovers me here. I buy it at New World when it’s on sale but because I don’t do as much baking as I used to when we ate sugar, I only have to buy a tin once a month or so. Baking should be an occasional treat, not a regular thing as part of the ethos of going low carb is to stop the sweet foods. You can also buy erythritol from certain health food shops too, which can sometimes be cheaper, and just as easy to bake with.

      1. diana irie says:

        Erythritol is available at my local bin inn. I grind it up if I need to have it finer as it is a bit gritty if I need to use it as confectioners sugar.

  16. Thank you for the very informative article. I am relieved to know that stevia and erythritol do not raise blood sugars or insulin! I have read in other places that ANYTHING sweet tasting will raise insulin. Your article is encouraging!

  17. Hi Libby and than you for all the wonderful work you do. I was wondering where you buy Swerve in Australia or New Zealand. I have tried buying it from Amazon but will not send it here. Many thanks. Pip

    1. Sadly they don’t ship here. The company sent me a sample but it is similar in both taste and texture to Natvia which is readily available to us. So most recipes I post a picture of Natvia for my NZ/AUS followers and Swerve for American followers so they know what I recommend.

      1. Hi Libby and Pip, You can buy Swerve from iHERB I have been buying the Now Foods Erythritol from them. They have quite a few US brands that are not otherwise available in Australia. Abbie

  18. Could this be made with either stevia drops or pure stevia powder, which is all I have in Mexico? Thank you.

    1. There is such a wide range of sweeteners available worldwide. So go with what you have, get accustomed and experience with it and you will have successful low-carb baking. Some readers love one and hate another. So yes, you can use your stevia drops or powder, you’ll have to add a little at a time until you are comfortable with how much to add. The drops and powder can vary so much in how powerful and sweet they are.

  19. Thank you for all the great information on sweeteners! A word of caution, though. Erythritol is not supposed to cause gastrointestinal problems. However, it caused my IBS to flare up big-time, just like xylitol and maltitol. I’ll stick with stevia.

  20. Laurie Cox says:

    I’ve been using xylitol and Swerve recently. I’ve noticed when eating a muffin, that when I follow a bite with a drink, my water tastes as if sugar has been dumped in it. I didn’t notice this the first time I made the muffin. But the next time I made it I didn’t have enough xylitol so used Swerve… about a 1-1 ratio. I also made my first fat bomb and used only Swerve. CANNOT drink anything other than coffee after either of these. It is so off putting. I wonder (and hope) it is just the Swerve and I’ll avoid buying again. Have you noticed this before? Thanks!!

    1. I am guessing that is the cooling effect of the erythritol in Swerve. I use so little sweetener in my recipes now, I don’t usually get this effect. With all sweeteners, stick to what you know and what works for you.

  21. Do you have any articles about the cooling effect of Xylitol or Erythitol? I can’t stand them! Would love some help on this matter please? Thank you!

  22. Donatella says:

    Hi Libby, I’ve just finished reading your article! I’M insuline resistant and my doctor told me unrefined coconut palm sugar has a low gi! I’m using it, Why do you say it is just like sugar?

    1. 5 stars
      Coconut sugar is still sugar, it’s all the same, and will raise your blood sugars just as much. The GI index is an out-of-date tool and purely shows how fast it is released, not how much. Table sugar GI is 60 and coconut sugar is 35. Coconut sugar is often regarded as more nutritious than table sugar but the tiny amount of nutrients, doesn’t undo the damage high blood sugars do and you get far more nutrients from food, not coconut sugar. That is a huge marketing gimmick to encourage people to swap to coconut sugar. I would encourage you to discuss this with your Dr. There are some low-carb physician groups I can put them in contact with to learn more regarding insulin resistance. GP’s across the world are learning about low carb and the amazing benefits it can bring. Unfortunately, it’s not coming any time soon from their medical societies.

  23. Most sadly I have painful stomach/digestive pain from all the erythritol/xylitol sweeteners. Have tried various ones over and over. Now i use stevia and mix a little coconut sugar or syrup in recipes. Not perfect but works.

    1. I think this is definitely worth mentioning and something this article fails to hash out- a lot of these sweeteners shouldn’t be ingested at more than 50g a day due to the high chances of experiencing stomach issues. I Quit Sugar is very explicit about this in their articles on sugar substitutes. I have read some of these recipes on this site that call for a whole cup of the stuff and I am baffled.

      1. Wow, I’m not sure who would consume more than 50g sweetener! They may just need to start reading my website again from the beginning 😉 In all of my recipes I use the minimum volume of sweeteners, and ask readers to adjust the sweetener to their taste, so most of my recipes only contain tablespoons not cups. The only recipe I can think of that requires a cup, is my chocolate sugar free magic shell, so unless someone would consume the entire recipe – you will only be having a tiny amount of sweetener with each serving. 🙂 And remember, the ethos of living low-carb, is to give up the sweet foods on such a regular daily basis.

  24. If your were going to have a diet soft drink which is the better option? I was very excited to find a sugar free maple syrup but it has sobitol & sicralose! Thank U 🙂

    1. I have a diet drink so rarely these days, I don’t really check first what the sweeteners are. I probably have a diet drink once a year, so it’s not going to impact on me hugely. As for syrups, we can’t buy any of the sugar free ones here in NZ so I go without them. For pancakes and such, we serve them with berries and cream cheese or whipped cream. Simple, basic food.

  25. I am still experimenting with Stevia granules. I prefer to give away anything that is sweet apart from fresh or frozen berries and Papaya. Not having a sweet tooth helps and I gave up having sugar in tea and coffee many years ago when Sugar in NZ went from 3d to 6d a lb (pre decimal currency) in support of my father stance lol. The other reason I try to give them away has just been published “Experts from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science have found that consuming food items containing artificial sweeteners significantly increases appetite and leads to greater food intake.”

  26. Josephine Perrucci says:

    When using sweetleaf Stevia powder for baking what can I use as a bulking agent ?

      1. If you look at the carbs on regular c&h sugar cane sugar 4g, exact same as Erythritol . I don’t understand why people are using it??? Does not make any sense . It’s all bad

        1. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, 90% processed in the small intestine, and zero glycemic index. There are no calories in erythritol as we cannot absorb and use it by the body, it will not raise glucose and will have no insulin response (although very rarely, this is not the case).

        2. Did you read the article? Most people use it because it doesn’t raise your blood sugar or triglycerides. It’s also used because it doesn’t cause cavities and since your body doesn’t process the majority of it many people subtract it from the carb count.

  27. I mostly use Swerve for bulk needs or stevia glycerite drops. I normally drink my coffee black, but in one cup I sometimes put a tablespoon or two of coconut milk/cream and about 5-6 drops of stevia glycerite. I recently found Spenda Naturals (packets) which is a stevia/erythritol blend. It’s handy to keep a few in my purse since restaurants use only sugar or chemical sweeteners.

  28. I also want to mention…I refuse to have xylitol in the house. Our dog eats anything that hits the floor so I don’t want to take chances. Some people say their dog wouldn’t do that, but to me it’s not worth the risk.

    1. Ann KOSZUTH says:

      Agree. Its not worth the risk. I saw a post a short time ago from someone who had muffins cooling on the counter that were sweetened with xylitol. There wasn’t a whole lot in them, but the dog went counter surfing, ate some of the muffins and DIED. So not worth the risk.

  29. Hiya, a fellow NZ’er here. 🙂 I’ve been a natural/healthy eater for most of my life, a low carb-higher protein eater for the last 6 months (trying to lose weight). Last week I found Keto and took the plunge straight away, so yummy and satisfying … and have already lost over 2.5kg. It’s the first time I’ve been able to lose weight in 5 years so am feeling a bit evangelical about it all, especially since it was so effortless and I feel so good! 🙂

    I’m interested in trying some Monkfruit but haven’t been able to find it. Do you know where to get it from? Sadly, I just last night I put an order in to iHerb … so Swerve will have to wait until my next order. I’m just using straight erythritol at the moment which is fine since we don’t really have a sweet tooth, but I so do like my dark chocolate treat every now and then. 🙂

  30. Hi Libby. Thank you sooo much for the info. This really helps in navigating the low carb roadmap. My question is I tried Swerve sweetener but the least little bit upsets my stomach. Can you recommend a sweetener that doesn’t contain erythirtol?

    1. You could try stevia drops, but I find them too easy to overdose and become bitter. Alternatively you could try xylitol, but be aware, it is lethal for dogs so don’t ever feed them low-carb baking.

  31. Hi Libby. I recently listened to Dr Nally (Keto Talk) podcast say that monk fruit raises insulin

    1. Interesting, were there any studies he referred to? I have done a quick search and can’t seem to find any. If they raise insulin, one would expect a drop in blood glucose to follow.

  32. Hi Libby, I have no idea if this question has been asked before. I live in NZ and recently bought some xylitol from a chinese shop as the price was fantastic. I notice the carb count us 99.8 which is basically the same as sugar, sugar = 0. I can send a pic. .it says it is imported and packaged at EZY Beverage Ltd Auckland. I am confounded by the carb count and 0 sugar

      1. I am so glad you asked the question

        Now I can go ahead

      2. Melanie Best says:

        Oh yay! I bought some xylitol and I was worried about this too.

  33. Hi Libby, what kind of sweetener would you recommend for ice cream with an ice cream maker? I’m in Australia so I usually use Natvia because it’s the easiest to find. I’ve made your coconut ice cream a few times and it works out ok with 2 tablespoons of Natvia and some vodka to try to reduce the iciness. I tried a chocolate ice cream recipe and had to use 5 tablespoons of Natvia to counteract the bitterness of the cocoa, but it froze to the sides and stopped churning. I’ve seen VitaFiber in some recipes but it’s expensive and Amazon doesn’t ship it here. Any suggestions?

    1. 5 stars
      Natvia is amazing. I am in NZ so it is the easiest for me to find, although I do buy Swerve from the US occasionally through iHerb. The powdered Natvia would work really well in the ice cream, although can be expensive, so blitz up some regular granulated Natvia in the blender and voila!

  34. Veronique says:

    Thank you so much for this information! Very useful. I started my low carb life cold turkey- with zero sweeteners, so now after 4 months I’m starting to eat low carb desserts and using low carb sweeteners, basically stevia+erythritol and its amazing how good they taste and how little I need. Thank you for sharing all your recipes with us!

  35. My husband and I are both keto and he is an insulin resistant, insulin dependent diabetic. Or I should say was. Since week two on a keto diet, his blood sugar has consistently been in the 110-145 range WITHOUT INSULIN! This has been a miracle for us and we are low carb lifers. We’ve both lost weight and feel great! Thanks for this article.

  36. Valerie Lane says:

    Swerve.. Its taste is good and I can afford it.

  37. Jackie Byars says:

    I use GMO-free erythropoietin. It works well for baking, for ice cream and toppings. If I need a confectioners version, I use Swerve. I have never eaten a lot of sweets or drunk sweet drinks, and I eat more sweets now than before I went low carb, because I discovered so many tasty foods made with recipes from low carb bloggers. Makes my husband happy, too. I just made a really good apple crisp, based on several recipes. Yum!

    1. Jackie Byars says:

      Eruthritol! Autocorrect!

        1. Wow Jackie, I was thinking we could eat sweet and build up our blood at the same time? shame it was a typo…

  38. I use stevia, but the brand I use has two carbs per teaspoon. That was what lead me to this aticle. I was looking for a low carb coffee sweetener and creamer for weight loss. Thanks so much for the help . It will also help me in cooking for my son who is a diabetic.

  39. Hi Libby. I read and understood your stance on fruit and sugar. If I used fruit (fresh or dry) as sugar substitute for baking would it have the same effect as sugar?


    1. I’m afraid so. It’s just dried sugar 🙁 But if this is what you are happy to use, just be aware that it will no longer be sugar free, just sugar in a different form.

  40. Susan Vargas says:

    I have read this article before and have often wanted to buy Swerve or Erythritol, but I live on SSD and cannot afford them. I continue to use Splenda or the store brand which says it is the same as Splenda. Am I harming myself, or should I just splurge and buy the Swerve or Erythritol? I started eating a keto diet in October 2017 and have lost 42 pounds to date.

    1. They sell it on amazing of you’re able to get shipping where you are?

    2. I have recently started using Pyuere (stevia/erythritol blend) because it is less expensive to purchase and more economical per ounce than Swerve (erythritol). It is at least twice as sweet as Swerve, though, so I am having to adjust measurements in recipes.

  41. It is my understanding that erythritol is only 70% as sweet as sugar whereas xylitol has the same sweetness level. Does swerve have some added stevia to make it as sweet as sugar so it can be used tsp for tsp (1:1 to replace sugar)?

    1. Lorena Baker says:

      Where is the source of these sweeteners? GMO corn?

  42. I have a recipe that calls for “Monk Fruit Sticky Sweetener” – anything you recommend for that? Person that wrote recipe said she used monk fruit sweetened maple syrup – however I don’t want the maple flavor…

    1. You could use liquid monk fruit

  43. Hello, i’m from Chile. Tagatose has become very popular here, because it hasn’t that bitter flavor and you can make caramel with it. Have you heard about it? Does it raise blood suggar levels?

  44. I use a chicory root sweetener called “Just Like Sugar”. It measures and tastes ….just like sugar! It does not affect my blood sugar and, as a bonus, chicory root is a prebiotic! There are 3 types available: Green label, blue label and a brown sugar variety. The blue label states that it is for baking, but it does not measure 1 for 1. So I use the green label for baking (it does measure 1 to 1 for sugar in a recipe) as well as for sprinkling on foods. I realize that the label says it has 96 g sugars, BUT it also has 95 g fiber…making the net carbs 1. Yay!

    1. I use Just Like Sugar, also and love it! I especially love the brown sugar variety. No one in my family can tell the difference. My favorite holiday dish used to be Candied Yams but only recently have I been able to create a lower carb version of it by using Kabocha Squash in place of yams/sweet potatoes. I still can’t figure out how to make low carb marshmallows that brown like the real thing so instead I top the cubed cooked squash with butter and Just Like Sugar Brown and add several drops of Capella flavor drops in “Marshmallow” flavor, then pop in the oven until heated through.

  45. My favorite sweetener is Lakanto monk fruit which is a blend of monk fruit and erythritol which tastes just like sugar. It comes in classic and golden. The powdered version is a little more expensive so I make my own with the classic or golden in my Nutrabullet. Swerve is also good mixed with monk fruit.

  46. I think all of the alternate sweeteners have some kind of aftertaste. I’ve been experimenting with blending different ones together and that seems to help somewhat.

    Be careful when using any powdered form. Some of them contain maltodextrin, which is a sugar, and will add hidden carbs. A packet of Splenda has maltodextrin, and says less than one gram of sugar per serving. How much is in that packet, a teaspoon maybe? If you use a cup of the stuff in baking, which contains 48 teaspoons, you may also be adding 40g or more of sugar.

    I use pure sucralose when use it at all. It comes in liquid and powdered forms, with no added carbs. Just be careful because it’s very strong! BTW, the study that shows an increase in blood sugar uses Splenda, not pure sucralose.

  47. Another really helpful article, thank you! I was intrigued by the Pure Monk, but when clicking on your Amazon link to the product, I noticed that it had horrible reviews. Many are saying that the product has changed and has a nasty industrial odor. Do you still use this sweetener?

  48. Sue Greenwood says:

    I am trying to make sense of the labelling on the Matakana Superfoods MONKFRUIT JUICE POWDER. (NZ product)

    It says it contains dextrin – will this raise blood sugars?

    Have you used this product as a sugar substitute for cooking?

    1. Dextrin is a form of starch, used for thickening, gum, glazing, coating food and glue. I looked at their packaging and they call it “dextrin free flow”. I’m guessing that dextrin is used here to allow the monk fruit powder to flow freely and not clump together? It’s not quite clear as to what this product actually is. The total carbs are 72g/100g plus fibre 13g which is recorded separately (as it is on most NZ labels) = total carbs 85g/100g. Yet the label also states it has 1406kj/100g? This doesn’t really make sense if it were the monk fruit extract that is calorie and sugar-free. I also see they call it monk fruit juice powder, sugar substitute, not a sugar-free sweetener. It really is a confusing package and would personally not use it.

  49. I don’t understand why everyone is saying xylitol and erythritol are low carb, they have the same amount of carbs as sugar. Yes I know they are better in other ways, but NOT low carb. Seems suffering without any sweetener is the way to go, but alas not possible for most. Love your article, thanks.

  50. Is it ok to use Splenda?

  51. Lavonne Sylvester says:

    Hi Libby,
    I appreciate all the articles you have. They have so much information it was really overwhelming at first.

    My husband bought a sweetener that says it is Stevia. Ingredients say corn maltodextrin and Stevia extract. Zero calories per 1 tsp and 1 g carbs. Is this a decent sweetener? I haven’t even opened the bag yet. My go to sweetener so far has been the xylitol/erythritol blend.


    1. Maltodextrin has an even higher glycemic index (GI) than table sugar. This means that maltodextrin can cause a rapid spike in blood sugars. If it was me? I’d avoid it or return it to the store 😉

      1. Lavonne Sylvester says:

        Thanks for answering this for me. I really appreciate it.

    2. Maltodextrin is a GMO form of cornstarch. It is in a lot of products, including food supplements (vitamins). In large quantities it can cause diarrhea & gas. I’d suggest trying the product. If it causes you problems, use something else.

  52. This is a very informative article and has answered many of my questions. Thank you so much! I have been using Whole Earth Sweetener in my coffee. It is Erythritol and Monk Fruit. A bit pricey but I found many markets run a special on it occasionally. I especially like the 9.8 ounce tub with the pour or spoon lid. I dated one and it takes me a good month to use one.

    1. hi Janie,
      my Whole Earth Sweetener pack says it contains fructose, chicory root fiber, and stevia, along with the two ingredients you mentioned(erythritol and monk fruit). I’ve learned that fructose has to convert to glucose before the body can digest it, so it is hard on the liver and seems to be made from corn most often. I stopped using this sweetener because of this, and the fact that I don’t like how processed the stevia is that it contains. I’ve heard that only the green unprocessed stevia is ‘healthy’. I now only use erythritol, monk fruit, or chicory root fiber as sweeteners. Maybe Whole Earth Sweetener Company will make one with just these three sweeteners in the future! i hope this is helpful!

      1. Amazon sells the one with sucralose and n final sells the one with just stevia and Erythitol

      2. Natasha Avery says:

        They do n final carrots them..

    2. Costco sells an erythritol / momkfruit blend. I have some, but have not tried it yet. I so not recall it was particularly expensive, though it does come in a fairly large bag.

  53. I tried a blender ice cream recipe that called for 1 tablespoon of sugar free syrup (sucralose). Can I substitute granular like swerve or lankanto. If so how much would I use?

    1. Gosh without seeing the recipe and the ingredients it would be hard to say with 100% certainty. But if the recipe only calls for 1 tbsp it should be easily adjustable using the granular sweetener. Always add to your taste (so you may prefer it sweeter or less than they recommend). Some recipes call for cups of sweetener, and so it becomes a little trickier to adjust/swap ingredients.

  54. I’m surprised more people aren’t using glycine… half a spoonful of that works perfectly in my coffee. It gives it the same sweetness as sugar and doesn’t have as nasty an aftertaste as stevia and sucralose. On top of that, it’s also a valuable nutrient!

  55. I read about a new sweetener-Allulose. It comes from fruit.

  56. I have a recipe that calls for 3/4 cup xylitol but only have stevia/Erythritol granulated blend and monk fruit/Erythritol granulated blend would I be able to substitute any of these and if so what would e the equivalent.

    1. You have to check the label of each brand as some brands are double strength but most stevia/erythritol blends measure 1:1 so it would be a direct swap. With all recipes, remember to taste before baking because you can always add some additional sweetener if it is not sweet enough for your taste buds, but you can’t take it out and you don’t want to oversweeten a recipe. As time goe son, you generally will require less and less sweetener.

  57. I wish there were references provided for this article. I am wary of sweeteners because of the potential negative effects on our gut biome. You state that sweeteners are natural, but I’m not sure how since they are just as processed as white sugar. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about using sweeteners… especially when it comes to giving it to my daughter.

    1. At least regarding stevia. It really is all natural. I used to have a stevia plant. I bougjt in the herb plant section at my local nursery. The leaves themselves are sweet right off the plant. I used to dry the leaves & then rub them between the palms of my hands to powder them. I kept the powder in a small jar to sprinkle on whetever needed it. The commercial version may have additives, so read the label.

  58. Hi, thank you for your great article.
    I use stevia as sweetener and contains Inulin and silica with it. Are these two substances good or bad for our health?

  59. Luc Forcier says:

    Which sweeteners we use: We use pure Monk Fruit sugar. It doesn’t give me headaches.

  60. I purchased some “Monk Fruit In the Raw” but it contains ‘maltodextrin’ . Will this ingredient raise blood sugar levels?

  61. John Heth says:

    Dr. Adam Nally (The Keto Cure) includes a whole chapter in his book on sweeteners. In general, he concurs with what you have written, but there is one major thing he has discovered that might be of interest to you and your followers. It has to do with sucralose. Nally counsels to avoid powdered sucralose (Splenda) because it stimulates an insulin release while not raising blood sugar. For most overweight people, insulin is the culprit in stopping weight loss. LIQUID sucralose does not pose the same problem. It does not stimulate insulin release. As a consequence, I have started using Liquid Splenda to sweeten my tea and coffee, and it is marvelous. For baking, I stick to Swerve.

  62. Hi
    Libby i am from Denmark, i am following you at IG. Where do i buy monk fruit, i would like to try in cake baking because I often feel the cold feeling in my mouth when i use sukrin
    Hope you will answer me

  63. I just bought some Natvia for baking. It says 2g carbs per 2g used… for recipe I was following it equates to 47 carbs – although this is over 16 portions with the other ingredients it makes each portion 6g net carbs instead of 2g as advertised… do we not count the carbs from natvia? Confused lol

  64. 4 stars
    Hi to all, the contents existing at this site are truly remarkable for people experience, well, keep up the good work fellows.

    1. Barbara Floyd says:

      i have tried the stevia/erithrytol mix- it kind of breaks my lips out- don’t like it. i order straight stevia online & use 1/4 tsp in a gallon of tea, and my husband and I like that. for baking and yogurt i use fructevia from steviva. it is stevia, non-gmo crustalline fructose, and inulin from jerusalem artichokes. . also magnesium carbonate. i like this stuff a lot. says it has 3 carb per tsp, but that it is processed in the liver and does not affect blood sugar. it has a mostly real sugar taste. i dole this stuff out like gold as it is expensive. your opinion?

  65. THANK YOU~!! That was very helpful! I just noticed a new term on a product: inverted sugar. Do you know what that is? On a side note, I have been low carb for over a year, have thousands of bookmarks on my computer, but after this ultimate guide, I won’t be needing all those other sites. Yours will be my Number 1 go to!!

    1. Thank you Teri, I am so pleased I have become your no.1 go-to site now. If you are on your phone, you can create a shortcut on your homepage to my site then you can search for recipes and article super fast! As for inverted sugar, spoiler alert – it’s yet another name for sugar! “Inverted sugar syrup is an edible mixture of two simple sugars—glucose and fructose—that is made by heating sucrose with water. ” When will it ever stop?

  66. Leo Glackin says:

    It’s hard to say

  67. Thank you for such an educational article. I thought I understood sugars and sweetness, how wrong was I!
    Since trying for a low carb diet I have used erithytol for my recipes and I wouldn’t know the difference. Can I use it in coffee or just for cooking?

    1. I’m, so glad the article on low-carb sweeteners was helpful Jo. Yes, you can use erythritol for both baking and for your coffee. Add to taste and add more as necessary until it reaches your desired level of sweeteness.

    2. I discovered Allulose early on, but even in small amounts in coffee it gives me horrible stomach cramps. I have yet to try Swerve. I am hyper sensitive.

    3. Thank you for great info! I use stevia and monk fruit.

  68. Cynthia H says:

    I recently discovered allulose (label RX Sugar). Suspect it’s processed, but do you have any comments?

    1. I haven’t been able to find any allulose here in NZ yet, as soon as I do, I’ll experiment with it and report back. Are you in my 4-week QUICKSTART? I tend to let my members know first when I develop a new recipe or begin to use a new ingredient.

  69. I have fallen love with some 0 calorie, 0 sugar syrups that I add to water, coffee, unsweetened yogurt, etc. They are made with Sucralose. I know you don’t use it yourself, but can I still stay in ketosis and use them. Thanks.

    1. Great question Dawn. There is debate over whether sucralose affects blood glucose. I haven’t written an article on it yet, so take a look at this from Healthline. They also link to various studies.

      1. Steve Gonzales says:

        Hi Libby.
        Some brands of monk fruit use allulose instead of erythritol. Can you compare these for us? I have a lower GI response to erythitol as well as all other sugar alcohols (massive diarrhea) and am wondering if allulose will help since I think it’s not an alcohol.

  70. I have tried all the sweetness monk fruit with erythritol( would monk fruit by it self be better), allilose and stevia . they all give me an after tasted.. what can I use if I want to stay sugar free? Is the brand Swerve made differently that other brand of erythritol ?
    When I want something sweet at night nothing satisfies me.

  71. I have started using Swerve as my main sweetener, though I am finding that it does not provide the same level of sweetness as sugar. I don’t like overly sweet things, but I do need some recognizable sweetness in my coffee, for example. I have some chocolate chips that are sweetened with monk fruit, which have a great flavor, so I want to look into monk fruit sweeteners. I have pretty much given up on stevia because it has a flavor that stays with me in an unpleasant way – not bitter, but also not pleasant. I will not do artificial sweeteners any more because there are too many negatives associated with them, including GI upset (that’s what Sucralose does to me). I appreciate getting to know your take on sweeteners.

  72. Very informative. Thank you! I would like to hear more about Allulose sugar. What is it made from? Pros and cons.