These are the sugar alternatives we currently keep stocked in our pantry. All are very common in the low carb and diabetic community because none of them cause a significant rise in blood sugar levels.
made from leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant
What we like: 100% Pure Liquid Stevia – we’re currently trying Pyure in coffee/drinks since we can easily find it at local stores. We’ve also tried SweetLeaf and Nature’s Way. 1 drop goes a *long* way.
What we don’t like: Powdered Stevia – every type we’ve tried has a very strong synthetic taste. Not great for our taste buds. You’ll also find that many of the pure liquid varieties have something called “Natural Flavors” added to the ingredient list, which is rather suspect unless you trust the product’s manufacturer. Always read the label and make a mental note of any adverse reactions.
Taste: Very sweet! A slight chemical or processed aftertaste, hardly noticeable in small quantities.
Glycemic Index: 0 | Glycemic Load: 0
extracted from the Luo Han Guo fruit
What we like: Granulated blended with Erythritol, for coffee/drinks and baking/cooking – most brands available are a mix of monk fruit and another sweetener because its sweetness can be overpowering. We used to only use honey as our household sugar and find the taste of monk fruit hits some of the same flavor notes. The brands we’ve tried and enjoyed include Lakanto, Natural Mate, Swerve, and So Nourished – all blended with Erythritol.
What we don’t like: 100% Pure Liquid Monk Fruit extract. Even a single, tiny drop of this from every brand we’ve tried makes us a bit nauseous. This would need to be heavily diluted due to how insanely sweet it is and that’s the main reason we’ve switched to liquid Stevia for drinks.
Taste: Super ultra omg so sweet!
Glycemic Index: 0 | Glycemic Load: 0
sugar alcohol produced from fermented yeast
What we like: Granulated and powdered for baking, especially when blended with another sweetener like Stevia or Monk Fruit above. It’s not as clawingly sweet as other substitutes and has a familiar texture when used in baked goods. Luckily, you’ll find many other sugar substitutes are already blended with this awesome sugar alcohol.
What we don’t like: That infamous cooling effect aftertaste. If you use far too much in one recipe, this becomes incredibly problematic beyond a few bites. It’s another reason why blending Erythritol with another sweetener makes for the best compromise in both baking and cooking since it makes the cooling effect fairly mild.
Taste: Slightly milder than granulated cane sugar.
Glycemic Index: >1 | Glycemic Load: 0
fiber derived from several different plants
We’re new to using Inulin as a sugar alternative for proofing yeast in low carb breads. It’s made of pure fiber derived from plants such as chicory root and jerusalem artichoke. The taste is a very mild sweetness that might be good for adding subtle sweet notes to any dish or drink. HOWEVER – let me remind you – it is pure FIBER. If you’re sensitive to fiber or not used to eating a lot of fiber, it will most definitely cause some gastric distress. Definitely test your tolerance before eating large quantities!
We’ll add more here as we learn more about Inulin through research and experiments.
UPDATE: We absolutely love using Inulin to proof our yeast-risen breads. It works really well for that purpose, but we still don’t really use it as a sweetener on its own.
Sucralose and Allulose
Sucralose is derived from sugar and the process to create it renders a zero calorie, zero carb, zero GI sweetener that is !! 600 times !! sweeter than sugar itself. People often associate the brand Splenda with Sucralose but the main, popularized line from Splenda uses such a miniscule amount of Sucralose that it’s really deceptive to market it that way. The main ingredients in Splenda are actually incredibly high GI triggering Maltodextrin and Dextrose (yikes!) so if you have blood sugar issues, be aware – Splenda is NOT Sucralose. And if you choose to use Sucralose in its pure form, use very – VERY – little of it as the sweetness will be intense.
Allulose is relatively new in the sweetener world so studies are still being compiled. Many food manufacturers have started using this sugar alternative so it’s worth mentioning. Allulose is derived from wheat. If you have issues with wheat, it’s worth taking note here. We haven’t knowingly tried anything containing Allulose, but it’s said to have a similar taste and texture to traditional table sugar without the added carbs/calories. Since it’s not something your body is used to digesting, recent reviewers suggest it might cause some stomach upset (moreso than those mentioned above) until you get used it.
Sugar free doesn’t mean the food you’re eating won’t have an impact on your blood sugar levels. Many of the products marketed as “sugar free” use sweeteners that are known to cause a significant rise in your blood sugar, most notably Maltodextrin, Dextrose, and Maltitol.
Just be sure to check the label, make note of the ingredients, and be cautious when trying something new. Everyone has a different sensitivity to different types of foods, so how a sugar substitute impacts you, a lot or not at all, might be a very different experience to the person next to you.
Glycemic Index – “The glycemic index (GI) is a tool to measure how individual foods are expected to impact blood sugar levels. ” – Source
Glycemic Load – “The glycemic load (GL) is an equation that takes into account the planned portion size of a food as well as the glycemic index of that food. ” – Source