This article is my own opinion and is not sponsored. I include links to studies and an affiliate link to the Xylitol on Keto I buy but all opinions and research is my own.
We all know sugar is the devil, and the reason so many people are overweight or obese.
In starting the keto diet, you might wonder, how do you get things sweet without sugar?
There are many sugar substitutes available online, and deciding which one to use in your Keto lifestyle can be a minefield.
A major concern when making your choice is that a lot of the studies out there are not independent.
They are often sponsored by, or completely funded by, the company that makes the product being studied OR are funded by a sugar company to discredit their use.
Choosing whether to use Xylitol on Keto can be difficult.
Carefully deciding which studies to read can be really difficult.
Any study you read should be independent and peer reviewed, which is incredibly important when it comes to trusting any online information.
Below I have summarised why, after a lot of research and personal trial and error, I decided to use Xylitol on Keto.
I have included the links below to articles and studies I have used to come to this conclusion.
Warning: Wait until you are keto adapted before introducing sweeteners of any kind!
This is really important.
Generally it will take a few weeks of strict low carb, high fat eating to become fat adapted and break the cycle of insulin spikes and sugar/carbohydrate binges.
I remember the days where I would eat a full plate of dinner, loaded full of nutrient-lacking carbs, and then dig straight into a chocolate bar because I was riding the carb roller coaster.
Once you are fat adapted, you stop craving these sweet treats as much and instead eat to hunger only, becoming satiated quickly with high fat, low carb foods.
It is crucial that you are strict for the first few weeks, and then slowly introduce more varied foods like baked goods, desserts and the sweeteners that come with them.
If you are starting day one with baked goods and sweeteners, your body won’t get used to what REAL sweetness tastes like.
I have learnt this through some of my recipes – I can always tell the people who have not allowed themselves at least 4 – 6 weeks of Keto before introducing sweet things.
You know how? They say my sweet recipes aren’t sweet enough!
Once you’re on strict Keto for a while, you will find everything tastes naturally sweeter.
After many personal attempts with Splenda and Stevia, I was always left with a really nasty after taste.
It got to the stage where my husband couldn’t even eat anything with Stevia as he found the taste that awful. And he loves cake.
I could manage it, but it certainly wasn’t pleasant and when I have spent an hour making a cake or ice cream, and the main taste you get is bitterness or a weird chemical taste, it’s very disappointing.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that was first found naturally occurring in birch wood and has since been found in many fruits and vegetables.
It is extracted and refined into its granulated form and has 2.4 calories per gram which is about 40% less than standard sugar.
The key difference is that your body does not readily absorb sugar alcohols like it does sugar, which means a much lower insulin response when compared to sugar.
One of the key benefits of the keto way of eating is the regulation of insulin spikes, as this is what puts us on the constant cycle of craving carbs and sugar.
When we eat high carb foods, we get an insulin spike and once this crashes back down, we reach for another serve of pasta, bread or sugary treat.
By levelling this out and controlling our blood sugar, we stop the cycle and have constant energy throughout the day.
Studies have shown a link between using xylitol can improve symptoms of diabetes, reduce belly fat and even prevent weight gain on a fattening diet
When I was testing out sweeteners for myself, I bought a glucose monitor and tracked my blood sugar carefully after consuming different sweeteners.
I found using Xylitol on keto to have the lowest effect on my blood sugar and did not cause further sweet cravings like some do.
The Added Health Bonuses of Xylitol on Keto
Healthier teeth using Xylitol on Keto?
Xylitol has a few other added benefits in addition to the control of insulin response.
- Oral Health. Many of the earliest studies of Xylitol connected it to benefits for your teeth and oral health, and studies continue to show that xylitol sweetened gum especially can help with dental hygiene. Xylitol also increases the production of saliva and lowers the acidity of saliva, both contributing to healthier teeth and gums
- Calcium Absorption and Stronger Bones. Studies have found that xylitol increases the absorption of calcium, a key driver in preventing osteoporosis and dental issues.
- Starvation of bacteria that causes infections. Further studies have found that Xylitol starves certain bacteria (like it does for your teeth), which cause yeast infections and ear infections.
There are many more studies on the benefits of xylitol when used properly, and in moderation.
Risks of Xylitol On Keto
All aspects of using a new sweetener, or any food product, should be considered.
Doses of 40 – 60 grams a day cause laxative effects – but this is a lot of sweetener.
For example in my Keto Brownies, you use a total of 1/3 cup of xylitol which weighs about 75 grams, across 12 brownies so 6.25 grams per brownie.
The key here is moderation with sweeteners of any kind. There is no point making a Keto friendly treat, only to eat the entire batch.
The second thing to be aware of is that xylitol is poisonous to dogs, even in small amounts.
If you have a dog, be very wary of this for obvious reasons!
Keep your xylitol stored safely away in containers that can’t be accessed by curious pups and be very careful not to spill any on the floor.
Sorry pup, no brownies for you
After considering many different sweeteners and personally trying most of them, I settled on xylitol. I have been using the product for over 2 years in many different forms, and have found the natural taste and low insulin response to perfectly match my keto way of eating.
I buy my xylitol from iherb here and also use the Xylitol Gum to help with oral health.
What do you think? Do you use xylitol on keto, another sweetener or steer clear of sweeteners all together?
I use xylitol as my sweetener of choice and have done for about 3 years. I’m doing LCHF (not counting anything but my only carbs come from veggies and what’s in the xylitol). I have 3 coffees a day with a spoon and a half of xylitol in each, along with about 30mls of pure cream.
I am not losing even though I have at least 10 kilos to lose just to get out of the obese category. I want to lose at least 25 kilos. I would have thought that just omitting all the pasta, bread, cereals. Chocolate and other rubbish I was eating, the weight should be dropping off! Could it be the xylitol? Are there too many carbs in what I am having in my coffee? Thanks for any advice!
There are many reasons why LCHF may not be having the desired affect, and xylitol could be one of them. While Xylitol has a low insulin affect in studies, it can still affect your blood sugar making your body think you’re having sugar! 1 1/2 teaspoons per cup times three per day is a fair amount as well, a total of nearly 5 teaspoons per day.
I would suggest trying without the xylitol, or cutting to one cup per day and see what affect it has.
In saying that though, you mention you are still eating more carbs through vegetables so it’s hard to say. I would need to review your entire eating habits to really advise. If you are eating corn, carrots, sweet potato, potato and peas for example, these are all quite high carb and can cause an insulin response (ie. causing your body to hold on to fat!)
If you really want to get to the bottom of it, I would try a strict keto approach for 2 – 3 weeks and keep things very simple (no xylitol), then slowly add things back in.
Thanks for your input, Rachel. The veggies I’m eating are all the low carb staples, no carbs or starchy ones, there isn’t anything I can’t really cut out there. I have been wondering if the xylitol is my problem. What a pain….I feel like I can totally do Low Carb if I can just have my sweet coffee! LOL
I will do as you suggest and go back to simple and cut the xylitol down to one coffee a day and see how that goes.
Once you cut all sweetness and get into ketosis, you’ll stop craving the sweetness.
Speaking from experience, I used to drink coffee with milk and 2 sugars. Then went to 1 sugar, then no sugar, then no milk. It still tastes sweet to me when I am heavily fat adapted, and black tea is delicious!
The xylitol (Now brand ) which you mention in the article is made from non gmo corn not birch bark.
Thanks for letting me know! I will investigate a new one instead.
Your explanations intrigued me. I’ve been a xylitol fan for years now and my household have all adapted it into our diets (the non-GMO birch extracted kind only). I recently begun a keto diet and stopped using xylitol because of the high carb count. 8 grams per 2 teaspoons! I only allow myself 20 grams of carbs per day so xylitol had to go. How do you incorporate it into a keto diet and still stay in ketosis?
Hi Dana, it’s definitely a balancing act using any sweeteners. I try to use less and less in my baked goods, and even then only have them as a treat. For example my Keto Caramel Slice recipe uses a total of 10 tablespoons of xylitol but that is over 30 small squares, so 3 grams net per square. I always think sweet treats should be had very sparingly regardless!
I have been on keto for about 6 months and although mr Doctor knows what my weight was when I first started, I’m going by clothes sizes and I’ve dropped from pushing a sz 26 😔 now down to 18 pushing a 16. I’m happy with my progress thus far. When I started I started with Monk Fruit sweetener after seeing a video. Bit by bit Woolies have started to remove it and now just this week even the satchels are gone. I’ve started with a new one – Stevia 100% natural free from GM. It contains organic erythritol, organic stevia glycosides (Reb A 99%) 0.73% natural flavour.
I can remember Dr Berg mentioning that erythritol is not as near as good as xylitol and I’ve just started back cooking and although hubby is along for the ride too as encouragement, he mentioned that he’s hungry around lunchtime so found a keto peanut butter biscuit recipe to give him for those times. I purchase my xylitol (for baking) from Go Vita where it’s around $29.00 a kilo – from memory. Is there varying degrees of quality of xylitol ? If it’s the same as what you use, I think we might switch over to have it in our coffees. I’ve noticed that in the last 2 days or so, the new stevia sweetener has had an affect on our tummies. I have 2 coffees a day, but I do drink tea without sweetener so I might take that route , but hubby could have around 5 coffees a day. That’s a lot of sweetener to have, especially if it has a laxative affect😳. What to do, oh what to do..😀.
Hi Janette, that’s some amazing progress, well done to you!!
I find Stevia can affect my stomach as well and I don’t particularly like the after taste. The jury still seems to be out on xylitol vs erythritol, there is some evidence to show erythritol has less of an affect on insulin. We are just starting to understand the interplay between insulin and weight loss so it might be a while until we have a solid answer on this.
I use the Go Vita brand one quite a bit, but to be honest try not to use much sweetener at all.I used to be 2 sugars in my coffee but now have none – your taste buds adjust very quickly especially if you phase it out little by little. The less sweetener you use overall, the less you will crave it and you’ll be on your way to being sweet-tooth free 🙂 Hope that helps!
Xylitol is toxic to cats, too!
I didn’t know this! I guess cats are much less likely to eat something off the floor or get into the cupboard compared to dogs, so it’s not commonly mentioned.
I have to totally agree with this article. I have done keto now for a year, like the writer here, have tried all of the sweeteners. I have the same opinion of Stevia. Erythritol is a little better, but still never fit the bill for me and it crystallizes too much the next day giving baked goods a weird texture the next day. I have done the xylitol now and literally went from a binge eater to somebody that has to eat at dinner just because if I don’t, I will have eaten too little for the day. I always like a “goodie” with my coffee in the morn and 9 times out of 10 it’s some thing I make with xylitol. I have no cravings afterwards. Like she said, it’s a Balance but honestly I don’t give the balance much effort and still have no cravings with it.
Thanks for your feedback Melissa! Xylitol for life here, but I don’t have a dog to worry about.
Hi, I just wanted to ask what is the opinion of the natvia brand vs xylitol? Natvia is the only one readily available in my Woolworths and much cheaper than anything off Amazon. But I have found it strange to cook with since it doesn’t dissolve like sugar when heating up. Why can’t we easily get xylitol in Australia?
Natvia is a good sweetener for carb count, but I have had the same experience as you with baking, it just doesn’t act like normal sugar. I also get a funny after taste from it quite a bit which is why I’ve stuck with xylitol all these years.
Xylitol is getting easier to find now, just about any health food shop and even many big chemists sell it now, but I tend to still buy it online in a 1kg bag so I always have it on hand.
[…] wondering what sweetener is right for you, do a bit of research and trial a few. I wrote about why I use Xylitol here – it’s the only keto sweetener that acts closely like sugar in keto […]
[…] use xylitol as a sweetener, I advise you to read this article from the blog Aussie Keto Queen: Why I use Xylitol as my sweetener of choice on keto. But in case you are still not convinced about xylitol, erythritol is another excellent keto […]
Thank you for this information.
I am only just the past week considering keto ; as a budding prepper I purchased a large quantity of xylitol.
I was really becoming discouraged that this purchase was going to waste if I went on a keto diet and possibly stay on it past a three month goal I have sent myself.
I haven’t begun yet, I am going to look at your meal recipes to make a shopping list.
I particularly appreciated the advice of strictness in the first month. Thank you.