Keto Sweeteners in Malaysia
Updated: Feb 24
This is all you need to know about sugar replacement options available in our country. It is essential for those on a keto diet, diagnosed with diabetes have/had cancer and anyone who wants to ditch sugar to know how to choose a suitable sweetener to meet their needs. Hence, I have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort in researching and writing this article on Keto Sweeteners.
Let's get straight to the point - not all sweeteners are the same! It's quite impossible to explain everything in detailed in one article so I'm going to extract those you-need-to-know and make it as simple and easy as possible for you to understand. In fact, I have put them into a table for your ease of reference!
YOU WANT NATURAL SWEETENER!
Generally, sweeteners are either NATURAL (plant based or sugar alcohol) or ARTIFICIAL (chemically derived). There is a long list of natural and artificial sweeteners available in the West. However, I'm just going to focus on the natural sweeteners available to us here.
CHOOSE YOUR SWEETENERS!
There are 4 types of natural sweeteners available in Malaysia, namely xylitol, erythritol, erythritol monk fruit and stevia. These sweeteners are available in liquid, powder and granulate formulations.
Stevia is the most widely available sweetener before the availability of sugar alcohols as it is plant-based and deemed to be halal. Do check the ingredients when buying as stevia is often blended with other sweetener to mask the bitter aftertaste. You may even get dried Stevia leaves from Chinese Medicine Hall.
One interesting fact of sugar alcohol which is known as polyol actually has no alcohol in it. Hence, the halal certification. One common characteristic of these sugar alcohols is that they are quickly absorbed into the body, pass through and excreted out as urine or faeces unchanged. Hence the zero calories. Because they are not digested by the body, so you don't count them towards your daily carbohydrate limit. One precaution to those with gut issues or prone to tummy problems, xylitol is not for you.
IF YOU'RE DIABETIC, YOU'D WANT TO LOOK AT THE GLYCEMIC INDEX!
Sorry mate, sweeteners are not the same for you if you are watching your glucose levels. Choose sweeteners with ZERO GLYCEMIC INDEX (GI) to avoid insulin spike. Also, note that Agave has a GI of 13 and is not a keto-approved sweetener. Here is my advise to you in consuming keto treats, look for the type of sweetener used and count the total carbs. Forget about the net carbs as the sweetness itself will trigger the insulin receptors in you!
Maltodextrin - You will find this sweetener added to some sugarless products such as dark chocolate bar and ice-cream or even blended to some natural sweeteners. Maltodextrin has a Glycemic Index of 100 which is way higher than white sugar at 52.
Fructose - The worst form of sugar is Fructose! It goes straight to the liver and may promote fatty liver, insulin resistance, central obesity, and unhealthy lipid profiles, especially when consumed in excessive amounts. Although fructose has lower GI, its impact on metabolic health over long term is more detrimental than white sugar.
Hyperglyceamic effect - I am one of those who will experience hyperglyceamia after consuming a keto treats heavily loaded with sweetener. The effect is as bad as taking a drowsy flu pill. This is why ‘cheating’ on sweet foods is not an option for me when eating-out as I do not wish to DUI and crash my car.
*This is not a paid article!*
Often, I have been asked what is the difference given the variety of Classic, Golden and Powdered offered by Lakanto. The Classic and Powdered (white) are extracted from the white pulp of the monk fruit where else the Golden (brown) sweetener is extracted from the seed and peel of the fruit.
You can simply assume Lakanto Classic as a direct substitute for white sugar and Lakanto Golden as the perfect replacement for brown sugar although the texture of the Golden is drier than the ordinary brown sugar. Both the Classic and the Golden offer the same nutrition and sweetness profile.
As a certified nutrition advisor in Keto/LCHF, I was given the opportunity by Lakanto to put all the 3 types of sweeteners to test in my food lab. Over the years, I have developed a few recipes and products using these sweeteners of which some of these recipes were published on newspaper and newsletter. One of them is right on top of this paragraph! To make things easier for you, I've put the comparisons of these 3 sweeteners in a simple table and my recipe here. Now you know which type of Lakanto to use for your keto drinks, cooking, baking cakes and cookies!