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Best Sugar Substitutes To Lose Weight On A Low Carb Diet

Best sugar substitutes: zero calorie sweeteners vs. sugar

On today’s episode, I’m sharing the best sugar substitutes to lose weight on a low carb diet.

Sure natural sources of sugar like raw honey and maple syrup can be beneficial to your health.

However, when your goal is weight loss and/or you follow a low carb diet, they should be consumed in moderation.

So today I’m talking about the best zero calorie sugar substitutes to bake with and consume via pre-packaged snacks.

I mean lets be real, if processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup was considered a health food, millions of people wouldn’t be struggling to lose weight.

The sugar addiction is real

This love of sugar, and in many cases, this addiction to sugar, is why the over consumption of processed sugar is one of the leading causes of:

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • and many other health issues

So the question is:

If your goal is to lose weight, is it possible to end your sugar cravings, while still being able to eat sweet food?

Yes you can, but it’s all about making smarter choices.

Easier said then done, I know.

The key is to replace processed sugary foods, with whole foods that use a zero calorie sweetener.

So does this mean, you should just opt for any and all packaged foods that says “sugar free”?

In most cases, probably not.

It’s important to always read the ingredients list, as not all zero calorie sweeteners are created equal.

Zero calorie sweeteners are described as sugar substitutes without the calories.

They are packed with sweetness, anywhere from 30-8000 times sweeter than table sugar.

This means they have far less calories compared to sugar, because you only need one packet of zero calorie sweeteners to sweeten up your food.

Zero calorie sweeteners vs. sugar

1 gram of sugar contains 4 calories.

1 gram of zero calorie sweetener obviously contains 0 calories.

This is why sweeteners are everywhere now, and why they are so attractive to people looking to lose weight.

All the sweetness, without the calories.

Zero calorie sweeteners are used in diet drinks, protein powders, light yogurts, dairy, and mostly anything that should have carbs, but is now branded “low carb”.

But remember just like “fat substitutes“, not all sugar substitutes are healthy or created equal.

Although there is still a lot of confusion on the health risks of certain zero calorie sweeteners, it’s important to understand the difference between artificial sweeteners and natural sweeteners.

Let’s look at the most popular zero calorie sweeteners and decide which are the best sugar substitutes to lose weight.

Artificial Sweeteners

All of the following artificial sweeteners are often found in foods labelled:

  • sugar free
  • low sugar
  • diet
  • light
  • low carbohydrate
  • low calorie

The FDA has set the following acceptable daily intake (ADI) for artificial sweeteners.

But I have to preface this by saying, I’m just reading you what the FDA says, I’m not justifying these quantities:

Artificial Sweetener #1: Acesulfame K:

Acesulfame K, also known as Ace-K, is used in the branded artificial sweeteners, Sunett & Sweet One.

  • Acceptable daily intake: 15 mg per kg of bodyweight.
  • This is the equivalent of approximately 30-32 cans of diet soda per day for a 150 lbs person.
  • Times sweeter than sugar: 200

Artificial Sweetener #2: Aspartame

Aspartame is used in the branded artificial sweeteners, NutraSweet & Equal.

  • Acceptable daily intake: 50 mg per kg of bodyweight.
  • This is the equivalent of approximately 18-29 cans of diet soda per day for a 150 lbs person.
  • Times sweeter than sugar: 60-200

Artificial Sweetener #3: Saccharin

Saccharin is used in the branded artificial sweeteners, Sweet’N Low & SugarTwin.

  • Acceptable daily intake: 5 mg per kg of body weight
  • This is the equivalent of approximately 9-12 packets per day for a 150 lbs person.
  • Times sweeter than sugar: 200-700

Artificial Sweetener #4: Sucralose

Sucralose is used in the branded artificial sweetener, Splenda.

  • Acceptable daily intake: 5 mg per kg of body weight
  • This is the equivalent of approximately 6 cans of diet soda for a 150 lbs person.
  • Times sweeter than sugar: 600

Lets be real

Just because the FDA says it’s safe to consume this amount of artificial sweeteners, does this mean it’s going to help you accomplish your health goals?

I’ll just let you be the judge.

Here are the pros and cons of artificial sweeteners, although most are still debatable as there really isn’t enough conclusive evidence either way.

Pros and Cons of Artificial Sweeteners

Pros (although most are debatable)

  • Artificial sweeteners do not affect blood sugar levels:

Diabetics are often advised that it may be safe to use these artificial sweeteners because they do not have the same affect on blood sugar levels like carbohydrates do.

But there are new studies coming out that may show artificial sweeteners do spike insulin, thus creating fat storage.

  • Artificial sweeteners add sweetness to food without the extra calories:

Since these artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar, it takes a lot less quantity to create the same sweetness effect.

This lowers the calorie count of the food or drink.

But there are new studies coming out that show artificial sweeteners may actually increase cravings of carbohydrates and other sweets.

  • Artificial sweeteners do not cause tooth decay:

Since artificial sweeteners do not contain sugar, it doesn’t cause tooth decay.

Cons (still debatable as well)

  • Consuming too many artificial sweeteners can cause negative side effects:

Like with most things, moderation is key.

Reported negative side effects of over consumption of artificial sweeteners include: diarrhea, dizziness, head aches, impaired vision, and weight gain.

They may also cause bladder disease, cancer, seizures, depression, and even lower sperm count.

  • Artificial sweeteners can be chemically modified:

Splenda is chemically modified by adding chlorine to its chemical structure.

This addition makes it more like a pesticide than something we should be consuming a lot of.

Your body really is not meant to digest artificial sweeteners as they are a foreign substance full of chemicals.

Here are a few other unproven but discussed potential issues: linked to potential cancer, negative effects on organs like the liver and kidneys, gastrointestinal problems, development problem in children and fetuses, and the list goes on.

  • Artificial sweeteners ARE NOT a health product:

Don’t fall for the health food hype!

In some circumstances, they can be even more harmful to your body than sugar.

When over consumed, it’s like comparing evil 1 to evil 2.

There’s no winner.

As mentioned, there are no 100% clear cut studies yet since, if there was, hopefully they’d be removed from the market.

But ask yourself, do you really want to consume something artificial and unnatural every single day?

Well when you have the option to choose plant based, natural zero calorie sweeteners, why would you?

The Best Sugar Substitutes:

As mentioned earlier, natural sources of sugar like raw honey and maple syrup can provide the body with antioxidants and nutrients.

But since these natural sweeteners contain the same calories as refined sugar, when your goal is weight loss, they should be consumed in moderation.

So if your goal is weight loss or you follow a low carb diet, you should be looking for food sweetened with a zero calorie, natural sweetener called stevia.

Zero Calorie Natural Sweetener: Stevia

Stevia is not a chemical like the artificial sweeteners mentioned above.

Although it’s now growing in popularity, stevia has been used for centuries, and is naturally produced from a plant.

Stevia is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar.

It’s also low carb friendly since a packet of stevia contains 0 carbs and 0 calories.

Stevia is also diabetic friendly as it is metabolized by the kidneys and liver so it doesn’t spike insulin.

It may actually help blood sugar tolerance.

I add Stevia to my morning coconut oil coffee and to most of my homemade baked sweets.

I also do my best to only purchase sugar free drinks and foods sweetened with stevia.

Of course, I’m not perfect but as a Live Leaner, perfection is not the goal, progress is.

So next time you’re baking, give it a try.

However, like all things in life, moderation people.

It’s important you don’t over consume stevia as consuming large doses hasn’t been heavily researched yet.

Stevia can be found in most grocery stores.

And when you’re looking for a healthier, sugar free, pre-package food or drink, opt for the brands using stevia.

What about sugar alcohols?

Sugar alcohols, like xylitol, are another natural sugar substitute that doesn’t spike blood sugar, has little impact on insulin, and doesn’t cause tooth decay.

However, although xylitol contains less calories than sugar, it is not a zero calorie sweetener, as it contains 2.4 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram of sugar.

Xylitol is also not as sweet as sugar, so more is needed to sweeten food.

Also consuming xylitol in large amounts has been known to cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

So I still consider stevia the best sugar substitute to lose weight on a low carb diet.

Bottom Line:

Always use any sweetener, regardless if it’s artificial or natural, in moderation.

Read labels, do your own research, and find what works best for you.

And don’t forget, low glycemic fruit like berries and grapefruit is another healthy and low carb way to sweeten up your meals.

Eat Clean Live Lean Cookbook

If you want to learn how to cook delicious low carb meals and snacks, check out my best selling, Eat Clean Live Lean Cookbook.

It has over 200 cooking, quick, healthy, easy, affordable, and delicious meals and snacks.

Check it out at

Thanks for watching and keep Living Lean.

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