What started as an ambiguous trend to health-store fanatics has now made its way to popular demand as one of the best sugar substitutes available. What exactly is it? Well, it’s stevia.
As we know, sugar isn’t keto-friendly and consuming any type of sugar is a sure-fire way to kick yourself out of ketosis. The objective while on keto is to transition your fuel source from burning glucose to burning fat, but does that mean you have to say goodbye to sweetness? Not exactly.
Cravings are almost unavoidable on any diet, we know this, but how you choose to suppress these cravings are what can make or break any diet, especially keto.
Today we’ll cover some key facts about stevia, the main types you can find easily available, the benefits of adding it to your diet, and how to enjoy a sweet tooth while staying in ketosis.
What is "Stevia?"
Native to the South American region but now cultivated in several other tropical climates, stevia has become one of the most popular sugar substitutes in the modern world due to its zero-calorie, zero-carb properties.
It was first developed in the early 1970's as a sweetener and remains widely used today as a popular substitute for sugar. Naturally, stevia is about 200-300 times sweeter than traditional table sugar and is at zero on the glycemic index, so indulging won’t cause any spikes in your blood sugar level.
Whenever you hear “stevia,” it’s important to know that people are referring to the leaf extract and not the plant itself. Currently, there are over 250 different known species of the stevia plant, but one strain in particular, called Stevia Rebaudiana, is the most widely used stevia plant because of the compound Rebaudioside, which gives the leaf of this stevia strain its sweet characteristics.
The Main Types of Stevia on the (Popular) Market
There’s a variety of stevia brands and manufacturers that offer this substitute in many different forms, but knowing what they are, the best uses and benefits, and what to watch out for when selecting a preferred type is important.
We’ll go over some of the more common types of stevia extract on the (popular) market and how to select the best one for you.
- Liquid Stevia
This is one of the favorite forms of stevia extract for those looking to mix it with beverages or to sweeten up a nice recipe due to the easy-mixing properties. It’s not a very dense liquid and doesn’t require much to notice the difference, but there’s a few things you should know before picking up a bottle.
When choosing a stevia liquid, you should double check to make sure it isn’t a highly processed extract. The reason for this is because when the extract is processed it means that it has been heated to extremely high temperatures and will lose some of the beneficial properties it has to offer. Bummer, right?
You want to also look out for liquids that have additives because this usually means they’ve been mixed with various sugars to act as preservatives or as fillers for sweetness.
- Concentrated Stevia
This is by far the sweetest stevia extract available and most commonly used sparingly to sweeten recipes and dishes. Just make sure to tread lightly because it’s upwards of 200-300 times sweeter than that of table sugar in just a small dose.
Similar to that of the characteristics of liquid stevia, you still have to be wary when choosing the right one for a number of reasons.
Although added sugars and preservatives are a concern with concentrates, the biggest worry is brands that are using added fillers because these will dilute the stevia concentrate resulting in a loss of potency.
- Stevia and Monk Fruit (Hybrid)
Monk Fruit, also commonly known as Luo Han Guo, is another plant-derived sweetener that offers little to no calories, zero-carbs and is safe enough to not increase your blood sugar levels, making it perfect for the ketogenic diet.
Although monk fruit isn’t as sweet of an extract as stevia, it is still roughly 150-200 times sweeter than traditional table sugar. The sweetness of the fruit comes from a unique antioxidant found inside called mogroside, which has been studied and shown to help prevent certain diseases by reducing the amount of oxidation inside the body.
For those looking for a less sweet option in your diet, Monk is plenty sweet enough to be an ideal substitute, if you ask us!
- Stevia and Erythritol (Hyrbid)
Another natural zero-calorie sweetener, erythritol is a sugar alcohol derived from fruits and fermented foods, but can also be manufactured. Don’t worry, it’s not really a sugar and you won’t be getting drunk off this.
Although it isn’t really a sugar, it still is roughly about 60% as sweet as table sugar, just without all the unhealthy effects on the body and making it much more of a viable sweetener for the keto, or any, diet.
The chemical makeup and properties of erythritol make it easy to be mixed well with other substitutes, especially stevia and/or monk fruit.
Benefits of Using Stevia in Your (Ketogenic) Diet
Since stevia substitute is naturally derived from a plant, there’s virtually no calories or carbs when consumed, which makes it safe for your blood sugar levels and perfect for the ketogenic diet.
One extract within stevia, stevioside, has been found to help keep blood sugar levels at bay by lowering the levels after consumption with a meal. Research has shown that consuming stevia extracts after eating have helped people feel more satisfied and less hungry, resulting in the desire to eat more and helping you manage weight loss and blood sugar intake. Since stevia has no calories or carbs, you can enjoy as much as you want and don’t have to worry about getting kicked out ketosis.
In some cases, stevia has been able to help those suffering from symptoms of systolic & diastolic blood pressure, hypertension and has even help those at risk of cancer by preventing the growth of cancerous cells. Pretty cool stuff, huh?
What Makes It A Great Sugar Substitute?
If you’re on the ketogenic diet, then you know that during this journey consuming sugar isn’t allowed at all. When we consume sugar, we have increases in our blood sugar levels, our body will burn glucose for fuel instead of fat and will most definitely cause us to gain weight.
Since stevia is available in many forms from liquids to powders, it’s easy to find the right type of substitute for you to enjoy your sweet cravings while staying in ketosis.
The best brands of stevia are the ones that are as close to 100% whole leaf and as minimally processed as possible, which is exactly the kind of stevia we use in all of our products!
In all of our supplements, we use only naturally sourced & minimally processed stevia to help sweeten your journey. From Keto Meal Replacement, BHB’s, and Complete Greens, we believe in the best supplements to give you the best results.
Be sure to stop by Complete Wellness today and crave your sweet tooth without worry!