A common question I hear quite often is, is coconut sugar keto friendly? Simply put, coconut sugar is definitely not a good option when on a keto diet. Though it has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar does, it is still 100% sugar. That said, there are plenty of other sweeteners that would be a better option for a ketogenic diet. More on that later!
Since coconut oil, coconut cream, and coconut flour are such staples in the keto diet, it is commonly thought that coconut sugar might be keto friendly as well. However, coconut oil and flour are made from the flesh of the coconut and are high in keto friendly fats. The end result when making coconut oil is that you are left with the pure fat from the coconut flesh.
When making coconut cream or coconut flour you are also left with a product that is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. Because these products are great choices for the keto diet. However, other products like coconut palm sugar and even coconut water contain too many carbs for a keto diet.
Coconut sugar, from my understanding, is made from the sap of the coconut palm. The sap is then turned into a thick syrup. After that, it is reduced down to crystal form and is then considered coconut palm sugar. As you can see this is pretty much the opposite of making the coconut oil. Instead of being left with pure fat from the plant, you are left with a pure carbohydrate.
So How Many Carbs Are In Coconut Sugar?
One teaspoon of coconut sugar has approximately 4 grams of carbs, all of which are in the form of sugar. Since the fiber in coconut sugar is so minimal, that also equates to 4 net carbs per teaspoon. Table sugar also contains 4 grams of total and net carbs per one teaspoon.
If you measure in higher doses like a cup, for instance, table sugar contains slightly more carbohydrates. However, the difference is still too small to make a case for using coconut flour in keto cooking. Both options just about equally bad choices when trying to stay in ketosis.
For example, if you are trying to keep your daily net carbs to 2o or less a day, that means you can have about 4 teaspoons in your morning coffee and that’s it for the day. Needless to say, coconut sugar or really any sugar extracted from a plant is going to be too high in carbs for a ketogenic diet.
So Then Is Coconut Sugar At Least Better Than Table Sugar?
After a little research, this question certainly came to mind and, to be honest, it’s hard to say. So instead of giving a definitive answer, I’ll just share a few things that I have learned. For starters, coconut sugar does seem to be lower on the glycemic index than table sugar. Because of this you can assume that coconut sugar has less of an impact on blood sugar levels.
Though this may sound like a good thing, I’m not sure there is a big enough difference to make much of an impact. In addition, coconut sugar contains almost as much fructose as table sugar. Now I’m not a nutritionist and I’m not certain on just how bad fructose is. However, I do think this is important information just to keep in mind.
Lastly, coconut sugar is not as processed as table sugar and may contain small amounts of antioxidants, minerals, and fiber. But again, I’m not sure that it is enough to make any real difference. So at the end of the day, my opinion is that maybe coconut sugar is slightly better than table sugar.
However, I personally do not think there are enough benefits to coconut sugar to make any real difference. Especially if your main goal is simply to stay in ketosis.
Keto Sugar Substitutes To Use Instead Of Coconut Sugar
Though coconut sugar might not be keto friendly, there are still plenty of other great low-carb sugar substitutes. My favorite would have to be Swerve and other erythritol based brands. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that has very little to no impact on blood sugar levels.
Not only does it contain zero net carbs per serving, but it tastes great as well. In addition, erythritol based brands like Swerve are becoming widely available at grocery stores and online. It also seems to be the most commonly used keto sweetener used in recipes online. In fact, I think I have used erythritol in all of my keto dessert recipes.
The only downside is that since it is a sugar alcohol, you may experience what is called the cooling effect. This is especially true if erythritol is being used in a recipe that does not contain much liquid. That said, erythritol is still my favorite keto friendly sweetener.
Other great options would include monk fruit and stevia extract. Though you may not experience the cooling effects with these products, they are both known to have a pretty noticeable aftertaste. Monk fruit extract and stevia extract are both hundreds of times sweeter than table sugar. Because of this, monk fruit and stevia extracts are mixed with other ingredients when in granular form.
Erythritol is often the base in many stevia and monk fruit marketed products. Lakanato Monk Fruit Sweetener and Pyure are well-known examples. Both of which are good keto approved sugar substitutes. If you use liquid stevia or monk fruit extracts just keep in mind that there are both very sweet. To find out more about keto friendly sweeteners check out my keto baking guide here!
As you can see, there is really no need or benefit for using coconut sugar on a ketogenic diet. Just a small amount is enough to kick you out of ketosis. However, thankfully there are many good options to choose from if you want to sweeten things up on a keto diet. My go-to is usually erythritol or an erythritol blend.
Most of these keto friendly sugar substitutes do not raise blood sugar and many of them contain zero net carbs per serving. I use these products almost exclusively in all of my keto dessert recipes. Please take a look around my site to see if I have a keto friendly version of your favorite sweet treat!