The keto diet works on the basis of consuming a high fat and low carbs for weight loss amongst many other health benefits. Sugars are carbohydrates that are high in calories, which directly compromises the low carb, low-calorie ethos which the ketogenic diet promotes as one of its main requirements.
However, keto diets do not have to be isolated from all types of sugar altogether, so long as this sugar is being consumed in moderation. Your sugar intake will still need to be significantly reduced in order to lose weight and stay in a state of ketosis, but it does not need to be non-existent!
In this blog post, we will discuss the impact that consuming sugary foods on the keto diet has, as well as how much sugar you can eat whilst still maintaining a keto-friendly high-fat diet!
How Much Sugar Can You Have On Keto?
According to experts, whilst following the keto diet, your fat consumption has to be the highest macro intake in comparison to the other food groups, with your carbohydrate content being the lowest. As sugar is a carbohydrate, your intake of it will need to be significantly reduced in order to remain below the restricted daily net carbs required for the ketogenic diet.
Here, you have two options: you may choose to completely avoid all sugar (which is always recommended for optimized success on keto), or you may choose to consume it in moderation.
If you are a lover of sugar, the latter option may help you to stay motivated on the keto diet, helping you to stick to it. If this is the case, then your sugar intake has to be calculated.
Within this, it is important to keep in mind that different foods contain different kinds of sugars; some of these sugars are naturally tolerable for the body, whereas some are artificial and potentially harmful, with different levels of carbohydrates and calories.
Natural sugars are beneficial to the body, and they are naturally found in some food groups, such as fruit and complex carbohydrates. When following a keto diet, dieters should be vigilant about the types of foods they are consuming and should be aware of both natural and added sugars.
Going cold turkey may prove ineffective in the long run, as it can reduce motivation once sugar cravings start to occur. Instead, you should try to ease yourself into reducing your sugar intake, eventually cutting it out completely if you think you can handle it.
Alternatively, choosing the right kind of sugar to consume is a great way to avoid completely cutting it out. Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time can help you to choose the sugars you wish to consume whilst still making sure that you maintain a calorie deficit to lose weight.
You should also look at other nutritious information than just the calorie, sugar, and carb content, as you will want to make sure that these foods have an excellent wealth of vitamins and nutrition to make eating them worthwhile.
Fructose is a natural sugar that is commonly found in fruits and vegetables, alongside the other natural sugars of sucrose and glucose. It is generally referred to by health and medical experts as healthy sugar, though excessive consumption of fructose can lead to weight gain due to increased calories.
Fructose has the same amount of calories per gram as most sugars, which is 4 calories per gram. Despite this, the nutritional content of foods with a naturally high fructose level does vary.
For example, apples are high in fructose and contain on average 19 grams of fructose naturally, coming in at around 95 calories per large apple. However, apples are also high in fiber and antioxidants, so can help your body with digestion, preventing and treating constipation.
In contrast, mangos contain 24 grams of fructose and have 107 calories, but also offer lots of vitamin C (75% of your daily recommended intake). Therefore, it is important to know which vitamins you are lacking when it comes to choosing a high fructose food so that the extra calories and delicious tastes are worth it! But, as stated these need to be calculated so if you do consume any of these fruits you consume them in small amounts that keep you in ketosis.
Lactose is also a naturally occurring sugar but is found mostly in dairy products, notably milk. Different dairy-based products contain varying amounts of lactose, making some lactose foods more suitable to the keto diet than others.
For example, a 1 cup serving of whole milk contains, on average, around 13 grams of lactose. However, most types of mozzarella cheese usually contain less than 5 grams of lactose.
Lactose does not contribute too much flavor to these milk-based dairy items, and consequently, it is recommended that followers of the keto diet try to avoid lactose. But, unfortunately, even lactose-free milk should not be consumed on the keto diet as the lactose has been broken down but the carbohydrates are still in there. Try to stick with cream if you can, as it is higher in fat than milk, so much more suitable to the keto diet.
Added sugar is included in most processed food, which is why processed food is considered to be very unhealthy in most types of diets. In a ketogenic diet, it is highly recommended to avoid added sugars as their sugar content is relatively high, making it hard to maintain a sugar deficit.
Added sugars are known in the keto diet world as empty calories, as they contain zero nutritional benefits and take up space in your daily calorie intake without making you feel satisfied and fulfilled.
For example, many sodas contain added sugars, which directly increase their calorie count. Try to avoid drinking these empty calories and instead leave room for more healthy and clean food to be eaten.
The consumption of artificial sweeteners, such as stevia, on keto is a complicated topic with no straightforward answer. Artificial sweeteners trick the brain into believing that you are eating a food with a high sugar content, without containing additional carbs that will kick your body out of its metabolic state.
Some artificial sweeteners contain a very little amount of carbohydrates, which are therefore preferred by many who are following restrictive diets, such as keto. This allows people to consume foods that would otherwise be too high in calories like brownies, cakes, and biscuits.
On the other hand, some people on diets choose to avoid artificial sweeteners. This is due to multiple reports that have been published regarding health concerns linked with the consumption of artificial sweeteners.
Some believe that eating artificial sweeteners whilst on the ketogenic diet will serve as a helpful sugar substitute to help control and slowly reduce how many carbs they are eating.
However, artificial sweeteners do not curb sugar cravings as artificial sweeteners are still considered "sweet" by the brain. The cravings of certain foods will only completely go away when less sugar is regularly consumed.
Reasons To Limit Sugar On Keto
There are various health risks that the consumption of excess sugar poses on the human body. From gaining weight due to eating excessive calories to developing a food addiction to sugary items, it is best to stay in control of your sugar consumption.
The following health risks are reasons to limit your sugar intake, especially whilst following a keto diet:
- Increased risk of obesity due to high-calorie content
- Increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Inflames the walls of arteries in your body
- Increases the risk of suffering from heart diseases
- Increases the risk of suffering a heart failure
- Increases the risk of having a stroke
- Increases blood pressure
- Low energy
What Happens To Your Body When You Quit Sugar
When you significantly cut down on your sugar intake whilst on a keto diet, or quit it altogether, the body goes into something known as the carb flu. The carb flu is a temporary period in which the body experiences flu-like symptoms, not too dissimilar from keto flu.
However, after this short period of a few days to a week, your body then gets used to the reduction in sugar. As a result, you start to reap all the benefits of cutting sugar from your diet. These benefits range from weight loss, clearer skin, and better taste to reduced food cravings.
Whilst you experience these external changes, the inside of your body is also positively responding to the reduction of sugar. These internal benefits include the following:
- Mood and mind clarity (reduction in brain fog and increased positivity)
- Reduced internal inflammation of arteries
- Lower risk of developing heart disease
- More energy
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Lower risk of tooth decay
- Lowers blood pressure
In summary, followers of a keto diet will want to make sure that their sugar intake keeps them remaining below the 50-gram daily carb limit. Consuming too much sugar whilst on a low-carb diet will push you over your daily total carbs limit, and will mean you no longer burn fat, but the net carbohydrates you have consumed instead. Keto dieters who do not cut the sugar down or go sugar-free will find it harder to lose weight, as they will be eating too many carbs to suit a keto diet.
A great way to control your sugar intake is by eating Proper Good meals. Proper Good provides ready-to-eat in 90-second meals that have a range of keto options, and are made from clean ingredients! They require no preparation and provide proper good nutrition in a quick and filling meal that will help you stay in ketosis and prevent unwanted cravings. These delicious meals will help to control blood sugar levels whilst being suitable for a keto diet.