Sweeteners are a controversial topic everywhere, more so in the Keto world. Short story? It's like looking at an elephant in the room, focusing on its tail and totally ignoring the behemoth of an animal in front of you! Long story? Read below:
Putting the blame on one specific ingredient is reductionist for the sake of sensationalism obtained by picking one ingredient & demonizing it. As in, since when has anyone consumed sweeteners on its own? Humanity is driven towards the narrative of a hero or villain with a thousand faces and hence we easily fall prey to dismantling one specific ingredient. This sort of focus is brought upon things like "chocolate" or "coconut oil" but since when have people gone an all coconut oil or all chocolate diet? (People, however, do go on an all meat or carnivorous diet)
Many studies demonizing sweeteners are correlative or based on overfeeding. By overfeeding, think of someone shoving a few gallons of coke or water down your throat. Doesn't matter what it is, a few gallons of any liquid down your throat is not going to turn out good. With that being said, each sweetener may be different and some of them, when consumed in excess(eg. 50+ grams of sugar alcohols per day) can cause digestive distress. This a subjective matter and as long as people aren't consuming an exuberantly absurd amount, it shouldn't be an issue. Do sweeteners kick you out of Keto? That's a whole other topic of testing ketones which we are skeptical about and think is inaccurate and a very vague estimate of the amount of ketones in the body. This topic will be covered in detail more in the future but the short answer would be to not to worry too much, find a sweetener that works for you(our favorites are Erythritol, Monk Fruit Extract & Stevia leaves that we use in our Energy Pods) and stick with them. As far as digestive issues are concerned, listen to how your body feels and be open to the fact that sweeteners might not be the(only) root cause(eg. things like high amounts of fiber from veggies, dairy etc.)
MAYBE EVEN SAFER?
Many sweeteners have isolated science around them and may be safer than many food items that contain rainbows of chemicals and ingredients. Sweeteners are specific chemicals which may or may not be extracted from natural sources. Each of them may have a different metabolic impact(or lack thereof) on the body and there may be quite a bit of science behind them that may prove their efficacy and synergy with specific dietary goals.
MAKES THINGS TASTE GOOD
Sweeteners make unpalatable foods palatable. This allows experimentation and creation of exquisite new flavors and innovation in the food world. You can also wreck the taste of a food with sweeteners... try sprinkling sweeteners instead of salt in all the dishes you make tomorrow and vice versa! The problem isn't specifically sweet foods, it's...
This is the hidden killer of any diet or nutrition plan. Lets try going on an unlimited chocolate ice-cream ONLY diet. The body responds after a few servings telling you it's done! Also, point to note, an ice-cream may have more than sweeteners in it as ingredients. However, then you crave other things which may be salty(eg. pizza, cheese sticks) or crunchy (eg. crisps) or a different flavor. It's this novelty seeking behavior that's the problem! Ever seen a Happy Meal? Sweet, crunchy, salty, aromatic... it's got it all! For people who are dependent or use food as a coping mechanism, this can become addictive. This is where the focus needs to be.
Look at sweeteners in context of the food product. Limit food diversity, keep diet simple, focus on life and let your body adapt. That's the exact philosophy we use in our Nutty Carnivore Diet. We use stevia leaves, monk fruit extract and erythritol for our products and recommend them based on our own testing, mostly because of their taste and low glycemic impact. We also utilize the formula of net carbs as stated below to calculate our total carbs when on a garden variety Ketogenic Diet. For our Nutty Carnivore Diet Protocol, we don't worry about the total carbs or net carbs but we do recommend only consuming 1-2 Energy Pods per day tops.
Net Carbs = Total Carbs - Fiber - Sugar Alcohols
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