The keto diet requires you to give up carbs in favor of lots of protein and healthy fats. While you shouldn’t have trouble staying full, you may miss a few items. To limit your carbs, you need to stop eating sugar. This also requires you to cut out certain natural sweeteners such as honey or agave nectar. When you need a little sweetness, there are several low-carb sweeteners that you may consider using, including Swerve.
Swerve may not be as well-known as stevia or monk fruit. However, it’s quickly finding its place in the low-carb dieting market.
What is Swerve and How is it Made?
Swerve is a natural sweetener made from a selection of starchy root vegetables and fruits. It doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients, flavors, or preservatives. The range of ingredients is also non-glycemic and considered safe for diabetics.
After breaking down glucose and adding starchy root vegetables, natural flavors are added to make the final product taste more similar to real sugar.
Swerve hasn’t been around for a long time. It was first released in 2001 by a company based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The company continues to source their ingredients from farms in the United States and France, ensuring the quality of the product.
What appeals to those on the ketogenic diet is the lack of carbs. A single serving of Swerve contains zero net carbs.
Primary Ingredients of Swerve Sweetener
Swerve contains a couple of ingredients with long, unfamiliar names. Before adding this sweetener to a meal or drink, you should know where these ingredients come from.
The two primary ingredients are responsible for providing an alternative to sugar. They include a carbohydrate and sugar alcohol to add sweetness.
The carbohydrate is oligosaccharides, which comes from a few different root vegetables. Oligosaccharides can’t be digested. It passes through your digestive tract and passes on some beneficial prebiotics.
Erythritol is the sugar alcohol that gives Swerve its sweet flavor. This sugar typically comes from wheat or corn. The starches get broken down. The resulting glucose is then fermented and dried to create crystals.
The combination of ingredients is marketed as zero carbs and calories. However, the same as most sweeteners, Swerve does contain a few calories and just under one gram of carbohydrates.
If you use Swerve sparingly, the calories and carbs should not interfere with the keto diet.
Advantages of Using Swerve
Swerve offers a few benefits as a sweetener. It can be used as a sugar substitute when you’re craving a bit of sugar.
Swerve is also a natural product. Unlike Splenda and other artificial sweeteners, it doesn’t contain artificial ingredients that may impact your digestive health.
Another benefit of Swerve is its composition. It doesn’t lose its shape, which makes it suitable for baking. It caramelizes the same as real sugar, allowing you to use it in keto recipes that substitute carb-filled ingredients for low-carb alternatives.
As far as the state of ketosis goes, Amy Davis, who is an education coordinator & product specialist at Swerve, has reached us with a couple of scientific research based statements to clarify the following:
Here’s some good news – Swerve won’t knock a person out of ketosis. It’s one of the very cool things about Swerve … even though we have to list the carbohydrates on the nutrition facts panel, per FDA guidelines, they are non-impact and do affect blood glucose or insulin levels. Therefore Swerve is completely keto-friendly, in any amount.
Disadvantages of Using Swerve on the Keto Diet
Why should you be cautious about using Swerve on the keto diet? None of the natural sweeteners should be considered a free pass to indulge in unlimited amounts of sweet treats. While Swerve contains less than one carb per serving, a couple of teaspoons with each drink quickly adds up so you might want to watch the amounts.
Adding a teaspoon or two to your drink is fine. Having a piece of keto cake, sweetened with Swerve, is great. However, continually using Swerve with each meal or smoothie may have a few adverse effects for some. Just like plain erythritol, consuming too much Swerve may upset your digestive system. It happens because the natural sugars are not easily digested. In small, reasonable amounts, this isn’t a problem. When you eat it regularly, the extra sugar may cause bloating or gas.
Again, Amy Davis from Swerve has some good news for us:
Another really great characteristic of Swerve (and erythritol) is that it has a very high digestive tolerance; so, unlike other sugar alcohol (think xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol) Swerve doesn’t have the same laxative effect as those others.
The above statement is based on two studies: The first one observed that "the repeated ingestion of erythritol (the main ingredient in Swerve) at daily doses of 1 g/kg body weight was well tolerated by humans," while the second study, which compared erythritol to xylitol, showed that "when consumed in water, xylitol was associated with significant intestinal symptom scores and watery feces, compared to the sucrose control, whereas at all levels studied erythritol scored significantly fewer symptoms."
Comparing Swerve to Other Keto Sweeteners
Monk fruit, erythritol, and stevia are sweeteners that are commonly used by people on low-carb diets such as the keto diet.
These sweeteners are also made from natural ingredients most of the time. Several brands sell monk fruit and stevia with added ingredients such as bulking agents.
Monk fruit and stevia alone don’t bake well. They’re suited for use in drinks. You can easily blend these sweeteners into your smoothie.
You can bake with Swerve. It’s one of the few sweeteners that can act as a direct substitute for sugar. If a recipe calls for a quarter-cup of sugar, you can use a quarter-cup of Swerve. As mentioned, it’s essential to use this sweetener sparingly to avoid consuming extra carbs.
How to Use Swerve
Swerve is a direct substitute for sugar. You can use it in meals, drinks, smoothies, and baking or cooking. You can use Swerve in any recipe that usually requires sugar or to give a bland recipe a little more sweetness.
Many ketogenic-friendly recipes attempt to recreate carb-heavy foods such as pizza dough, donuts, and dozens of desserts. If you need a suitable sugar replacement for any of these recipes, consider using Swerve.
You may even find a few recipes that specifically call for stevia or monk fruit. As Swerve is also a natural sweetener, it can also be used as a substitute for these products.
Should You Use Swerve on the Keto Diet?
Following the keto diet can be demanding. For the average person, the keto diet involves a lot of changes. Think about the foods that you usually eat. A lot of the items on your menu probably include sugar, especially if you eat a lot of processed foods and baked goods. When you get started on the keto diet, these foods are not part of your meal plan.
Some people miss the sweetness of sugar and experience cravings. Typically, these cravings pass within a few weeks. However, if the cravings get too intense, a sweetener may offer a temporary fix.
The risk of using a sugar substitute is that you may come to depend on it. Instead of weaning yourself off sugar, you have only found a replacement.
If you can avoid using Swerve with every meal and drink, it does offer a keto-friendly way to add something sweet to your diet.
Stephen Mason says
Very informative! Thank you! I am on a keto diet and track calories and macros closely. It was eye-opening to see how just a few teaspoons of Swerve threw off my carb count for the day. Really good advice here. It confirmed what I already suspected.
Once again I am forced to realize that no diet plan works without moderation. Shucks!
Hello, I found this article very helpful. I have one question from the graphic, it looks like (to me) that the Granular swerve is Keto friendly and the Confectioners and Brown is not. Am I reading this correctly?
Hi, Sarah. I see now that the graphics can be a bit confusing. It is just a question that invites a reader to get the answer to in the article. Those arrows are not there to tell you that brown and confectioners are not keto-friendly. Thank you for pointing out the confusion, though.
I tried making a sugar free maple syrup using 2 cups Swerve, 1 cup water, & 1 teaspoon maple extract. It came to slow boil for a few minutes to make sure Swerve was dissolved. Unfortunately as it cooled, it crystalized. Should I have let it simmer more than several minutes or is this what will happen with Swerve no matter how long I simmer it? Love Swerve, I use it all the time in my recipes. Thank you,Debbie
Hi, Debie. This kind of beats me since I don't use much of Swerve. But their web site says to use ½ cup Swerve per 1 cup hot (almost boiling) water and shake it until well combined. I'd personally go for confectioners or would powder the brown one myself. You might want to try that?