3 Sweeteners You Can Use on the Keto Diet

These sugar swaps will help keep your carb intake low and your sweet tooth satisfied while on the diet.

The keto diet, also known as the ketogenic diet, is one where you eat foods with fat and protein but eat small amounts of carbohydrates. The goal of the keto diet is for the body to use protein and fat for energy instead of carbs.

Wanting to use a keto-friendly sweetener may sound a bit like an oxymoron. Sweeteners are usually sugars, sugars are carbs, and the keto diet is a very low-carb diet.

But there are sweeteners out there with little to no carbs—and while the list below is short, stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol can all be part of your keto diet.

Two women looking at nutrition label in supermarket

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If you are looking to lower your added sugar intake or substitute your sugar additives while doing the keto diet, stevia can be an option to try. Stevia or stevia leaf extract—also known as rebaudiana—is "carb-free" and commonly used as a calorie-free sweetener. It's about 200 to 400 times sweeter compared to table sugar.

The stevia plant is native to South America, found in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. However, it is grown all over the world, including in the United States. You'll see stevia on grocery shelves under brand names such as Truvia and PureVia.

Stevia is also generally recognized as safe (GRAS), which also makes it a good alternative to the sucrose (i.e., sugar) that can be found in food and drinks.

Monk Fruit

Another keto-friendly sweetener is monk fruit, also known as Luo Han Guo. The sweetener is about 100 to 250 times sweeter than sugar but contains no calories or carbs. Monk fruit comes from a plant that is native to China. It is sold by brands such as Monk Fruit in the Raw and PureLo and falls in the GRAS category as well.

Like stevia, monk fruit can help you decrease the number of carbs you eat. You can use monk fruit in salad dressings or other recipes that call for sugar. Monk fruit extract can also sweeten drinks or become the main sweetener for baked goods. That’s because monk fruit is considered to be heat stable.

Still, more research is needed to determine more about the consumption of monk fruit and its effects on the human body.


Erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol, as it can be found in fruit (e.g., watermelon, grapes). You can also find erythritol in some fermented foods (e.g., cheese, soy sauce). The sweetener has zero calories and is about 60 to 80% as sweet as sugar. It also doesn't cause blood sugar spikes or promote tooth decay.

Of note, your body doesn't absorb and break down sugar alcohol the same way as sugar. Specifically, the body's absorption of sugar alcohols takes longer than it does for sugar. This is why some sugar alcohols can cause issues with your digestive system. But erythritol is said to be among sugar alcohols that lead to fewer problems, and the FDA considers it to be GRAS.

Also, a small study also found that erythritol could be helpful for decreasing how much sugar a person consumes, leading to the potential prevention of weight gain and diabetes. However, the study authors said that more research is needed to find out more about how erythritol can benefit human health.

What Else To Know About Using Low Carb Sweeteners and the Keto Diet

Just because a beverage or food contains one of these sweeteners, that doesn't mean the item is keto-friendly. Stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol are often found in foods and drinks labeled "sugar-free" or "low-sugar." But those foods and drinks may contain other carbs. So it's a good idea to make a habit out of checking the nutrition facts on any packaged item you're thinking of using.

Replacing sugar with a low- or no-cal sweetener can be helpful when you're doing the keto diet. However, if you use sweeteners or not, the results may vary when it comes to weight loss on the diet in general. Research has found that people who use the keto diet do lose weight in the short term (e.g., between 6 to 12 months). But it may be hard to maintain a keto diet for longer periods of time due to the diet's restrictions.

A Quick Review

Low-carb sweeteners—Stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol—may allow you to stick to a keto dietary lifestyle. You can lower the amount of carbs you eat while doing the keto diet and using these sweeteners. However, foods or drinks with these sweeteners may not be keto-friendly.

Also, it's important to know that weight loss results from the keto diet can be different for every person. But if you're interested in the keto diet or using these sweeteners, consult with a healthcare provider or dietitian.

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