Is Sucralose Keto? Carbs, Calories and More
Sucralose is an artificial sugar replacement found in thousands of foods, beverages, and dental products.
People use products like sucralose to steer clear of sugar, manage insulin levels, and of course, to stay in ketosis.
But in the health and wellness community, sucralose is controversial.
Is there merit to concerns over sucralose, or is it a perfectly fine part of a healthy diet?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the sucralose issue, starting with the basics.
The trade name for sucralose is “Splenda.” Even if you’ve never tried it, you’ve probably seen it in little yellow packets.
Sucralose comes from chlorinating sucrose. In plain English, that means chemists add chlorine atoms to table sugar.
As a result, even though sucralose tastes sweet, your body can’t digest it. It’s what’s known as a “non-nutritive sweetener.”
Therefore, for nutritional purposes, it has zero calories and zero net carbs. It’s also about 650 times sweeter than regular sugar[*]!
And in a nutshell, that’s the whole point of sucralose. People love sweet tastes, especially when they come with zero calories.
If you’ve never looked around for sucralose, you might be surprised at how many products contain it.
Along with brand name Splenda, you can find sucralose in generic (store brand) artificial sweeteners.
It comes in granulated and liquid forms. Low-sugar or low-calorie syrups like sugar-free maple syrup often contain sucralose, too.
Fruit juice cocktails, sugar-free sodas, and other beverages commonly include sucralose.
Not surprisingly, sucralose is a favorite ingredient for candies and desserts.
And you’ll also find it in chewing gum and toothpaste.
Most of all, you’re likely to find sucralose in products labeled “Sugar Free,” “Reduced Sugar,” “Less Sugar,” “No Sugar,” and so forth.
But if you really want to know what contains sucralose, make sure to check all your labels.
In the United States, due to FDA labeling requirements, all ingredients must be listed in the label. And that includes sucralose.
Is sucralose good for you?
The answer is yes and no, but mostly no.
If you’re addicted to sugar, virtually anything that helps you combat your sugar habit will result in weight loss, lower blood glucose, and other health benefits.
But you definitely don’t need sucralose to kick sugar.
You could use natural sweeteners instead, or you could just go cold turkey and stop the sweets altogether.
And there is no evidence that sucralose is good for you in and of itself, aside from its potential to help you cut back on sugar.
Safety. This is the big question on most people’s minds when it comes to sucralose.
But the answer actually depends on what you mean by safe.
Will sucralose literally kill you? That’s the question the FDA, the agency responsible for regulating artificial sweeteners in the US, is most concerned with answering.
And when the FDA granted full approval to sucralose in 1999, they took into account over a hundred safety studies[*].
According to the FDA, the “acceptable dietary intake” (ADI) of sucralose is 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day[*].
For the average person, that’s about 23 packets of Splenda per day, or nearly 10 cans of soda!
And not only that, but the ADI actually represents an amount 100 times lower than the amount of sucralose found to be safe, according to safety studies.
So it’s safe to say sucralose isn’t deadly.
However, many people still have concerns about its long-term effects on human health and the subtler side effects that early safety studies may not have detected.
And a body of research that has come out after the approval of sucralose suggests it may indeed have undesirable effects.
- Studies suggest artificial sweeteners, including sucralose, can actually worsen sugar cravings[*].
- When combined with carbs, sucralose may result in insulin resistance and weight gain[*].
- Consuming diet sodas, including those with sucralose, may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes[*].
- Some evidence suggests sucralose is harmful to your gut bacteria[*].
- Some doctors say there’s not enough safety data for the use of artificial sweeteners in pregnant or nursing women, children, people with diabetes, and sufferers of migraines or epilepsy[*].
- Sucralose may form hazardous byproducts at high temperatures[*].
As with many questions about sucralose, the answer depends on your definition.
If we define keto-friendly as sugar-free and fitting within keto macros, the answer is yes, you could call sucralose keto-friendly.
But then again, if you go by that definition, you might as well go dirty keto.
In reality, though, dirty keto is not the best choice for your health, and neither is sucralose. How can fast food, lab-made chemicals, and other low-quality foods compare to healthy, whole foods?
Therefore, if your keto goals include long-term health and wellness, there are far better alternatives to sucralose.
- Stevia for baking and keto beverages
- Monk fruit sweetener for baking and general use
- Non-GMO erythritol for desserts
- Allulose for potential weight loss and lower blood sugar levels
And remember, you can also experiment with combining two or more low-carb sweeteners for different tastes or other properties.
For example, sweetening with sugar alcohols (like erythritol) can reduce the bitter aftertaste of stevia. Or you can add a little bit of monk fruit extract to a recipe for its healthy, anti-inflammatory mogrosides[*].
Don’t miss The Best Sweeteners and Zero-Carb Sugar Substitutes for the Keto Diet if you want to learn more.
But ultimately, keep in mind that any sweetener, even healthy, natural, calorie-free options, can perpetuate a sugar addiction.
So if you’re trying to overcome a severe sweet tooth, your best bet is to avoid sweets for a while, then work to develop a healthier relationship with treats later in your keto journey.
If you’re transitioning to a low-carb diet or ketogenic lifestyle, your eyes will naturally be attracted to “Sugar Free” and “Low Carb” products on the grocery store shelves.
And as you just learned, many of those products contain sucralose.
Although a little sucralose likely won’t hurt you, consuming it frequently probably isn’t a good idea.
Regardless, as long as you remember to read your labels, avoiding sucralose is easy, and there’s really no good reason to choose it.
Stevia and other sugar alternatives are much better keto sweeteners–they work just as well and are definitely healthier than sucralose.
Ultimately, though, remember to check in with yourself about your relationship with sweets. Any sweetener can sustain a sugar addiction, which makes you more likely to relapse in the future.
If you think you’re psychologically dependent on sweets, try cutting them out for a while, then come back later. With a healthier relationship, you’ll enjoy the occasional treat much more.