SUGAR BY ANY OTHER NAME
Eating sugar is the fastest way to get kicked out of keto, obviously. The name alone, sugar, has become a kind of bad word for anyone trying to improve their health, kicking sugar isn’t unique to keto. Because of this, and food labeling laws, those crafty sugar folks have come up with tons of new, softer names to hide sugar in plain sight. Here is a list of twenty-nine sneaky nom-de-plumes sugar goes by in order to weasel its way into your diet.
29 NAMES FOR SUGAR
1. Corn Syrups, Corn Sweeteners, Corn Syrup Solids, High Fructose Corn Syrup: This is an easy one, by now most people know that anything with a corn sweetener or syrup is masked sugar. But it’s found in some surprising places that might seem keto friendly: salad dressings, sweetened yogurts, “low carb” protein bars.
2. Dextrin: Derived from all the things ketoers are supposed to avoid including wheat, glucose, and starches, dextrin is often used to glaze items including some medications. So watch out.
3. Barley Malt: Barley is a major ingredient in beer and a lot of snack bars that ketoers know not to touch. But Barley Malt is also used in many dark chocolates, one of the sweet treats that’re typically keto friendly.
4. Agave Nectar: This one sounds almost angelic doesn’t it? It’s also usually organic and boasts the healthy agave plant as its source. The problem is, it’s still sugar. Agave Nectar can sneak into coffee drinks and teas from your nearby coffee shop, so be careful and ask questions.
5. Beet Sugar, Beet Powder: They call them sugar beets for a reason, they are sugar. Anything that looks as much like a vegetable as a beet does should be good for you, but alas, beets are sweets. Beet sugar is often sold as a stand-alone sweetener with all the healthy sounding tags, like, organic, gmo free, low sodium, free trade. But at the end of the day, it’s a sugar that will kick you out of keto.
6. Coconut Palm Sweetener: This one is especially duplicitous as Coconut oil is a keto staple. It’s touted as having a low score on the glycemic index, but it’s still an empty calorie that will create glucose in your system. Coconut palm sugar is often sold as an add-in sweetener with less damaging effects than sugar. Nope.
7. Sucanat: Sucanat is the trademarked name of a sugar substitute made from sugarcane but processed differently than raw, white sugar. Sucanat can be found in sweetened drinks that appear healthy on the front label. Always check the nutrition label and read the ingredients list for sneaks like Sucanat.
8. Sucrose: Sucrose is the more scientific name of white, table sugar. The use of the name sucrose on labels is a simple rebranding to hide the word sugar. The rule on keto is to avoid any ingredient that ends in –ose.
9. Molasses: Molasses is a viscous byproduct of refining sugars in a certain way. Molasses doesn’t usual try to hide its sugary ancestry, but it can trip up those folks who are new to keto and don’t realize how sugary molasses actually is. It is most often found in baking, but it’s also used in Rums. So keep an eye on the Rum you chose when drinking on keto to make sure it doesn’t contain a high sugar content.
10. Black Strap Molasses: This is a form of Molasses that remains after the process of extracting the maximum about of sugar from cane. Black Strap is praised for its vitamin and mineral content: iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. All those are great, but at the end of the day, molasses is still sugar. Black Strap is sold by the jar, so it should be easy to avoid if you can get past the marketing.
11. Muscovado: Is an Indian form of crystalized sugar. Similar to Black Strap Molasses, Muscvado is sold as having vitamin and mineral content. The problem is, it’s still sugar that keto won’t tolerate. It’s become popular in the U.S. and is being used in coffees and teas, especially those native to India.
12. Treacle: “Mate, grab the lift up to me flat and we’ll watch a little footie on the telly whilst I make some Treacle biscuits.” That’s right, treacle is nothing but the British term for molasses; funny then, that the ingredient of treacle would end up on American food packaging. Beware of baked goods made with alternative sweeteners that list treacle as that agent.
13. Inverted Sugar: Scientifically speaking, sugar is glucose and fructose combined to form sugar crystals. Inverted sugar is the separating of glucose from fructose and adding water. Inverted sugar is sweeter and helps products retain moisture. It’s not a sugar substitute, it’s just sugar.
14. Honey: Honey is magical and it’s tough to be mad at honey. Bees work their whole lives to make it and if properly covered, honey can never go bad. Amazing. But sadly, honey is gooey, golden sugar. Honey-kissed, seemingly healthy snacks are still not keto friendly.
15. Maltose: Did you catch it? The –ose at the end of the name. Rule one when looking for hidden sugars is that ending. Maltose is just another sugar masquerading as something else. If you see it, avoid it. Keto says no.
16. Dried Oat Syrup: It’s organic, it’s GMO free, it’s probably made by little woodland elves who fix shoes in their spare time, but it’s a sugar. Don’t fall for the healthy marketing gimmick, it will kick you out of keto.
17. Evaporated Cane Juice Crystals: They try to sell it as a natural sweetener without the ill effects of sugar. It’s not. Listen to this to hear why.
18. Gomme Syrup: Its water with sugar stirred in until it creates a syrup. It’s just sugar water, but it finds its way into a lot of drinks that say they’re healthy. Some mass produced Kombuchas use gomme as a base. Beware.
19. Turbinado: Raw sugar spun in turbines to extract it (hence the name). You’ll see this in packages on tables in many restaurants these days; Sugar in the Raw, they’ll say. But raw sugar is, you guessed it, still sugar. Dress it up however you’d like, sugar is sugar.
20. Demerara: “Large grain with amber hues and a hint of toffee flavoring, perfect as a brown sugar substitute.” That’s exactly how it’s being sold, a brown sugar substitute. But you’ll just be substituting one sugar for another. They can dress it up with flowery language all they’d like, but it’s still sugar and your ketogenic adjusted body will know the truth when it turns it into glucose.
21. Jaggery: This is just palm and coconut sugar pressed into patties. Changing the name and shape doesn’t stop sugar from being sugar. Cool name, though.
22. Piloncillo: The Mexican version of Jaggery, also sold in cool shapes, also still a sugar. Often times Piloncillo is used in Mexican food dishes, specifically Mole.
23. Caster: Caster looks like a powder, its texture is somewhere between granulated sugar and confectioner’s sugar. It’s often used in meringues and in cocktails. So be careful if you order a fancy drink, they may add caster powder to liven it up and drop you out of keto.
24. Dextrose: What’s the number one sugar rule? Those last three letters. But here is why dextrose can be the trickiest of tricksters when it comes to the keto lifestyle. Ketoers love their cured meats: salami, mortadella, prosciutto. But dextrose can weasel its way into the meat curing process to enhance flavor and sweetness. Make extra sure you check the labels on your meats carefully now that you know sugar is bringing the fight to your doorstep.
25. Simple Syrup: Sounds harmless and… simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it is, simple syrup is simply sugar. It’s very easy to find and absentmindedly use when you pick up your morning coffee, be mindful and you can avoid this innocent sounding sneak.
26. Glucose: All of your red flags should be waving right now. It ends with –ose and is literally the reason you’re on keto, to switch to ketone fuel instead of this stuff! You know to stay away from the big glucose items like pasta, sugary drinks, and such. Just be warned that fruits, including dried fruits, contain natural glucose that can boot you out of keto.
27. Date Sweeteners: Another in the long list of sweeteners that come in a brown bag with 10 labels spouting how natural and organic and wholesome they are. Dates are natural and organic, so is raw sugar cane. It’s still sugar and will metabolize as such, hitting the keto restart button.
28. Lactose: -ose. –OSE! Yep, it’s a sugar. Lactose is in milk and the reason milk is so sugary and thus not keto appropriate.
29. Ethyl maltol: Last but not least, the sugar that sounds like rocket fuel. It’s most certainly a sugar (if it weren’t it wouldn’t be on the list) but it’s found in a less than common place. Ethyl maltol is an extremely common ingredient in E-cigarette liquids and vaping juices. It’s great for taking the bitter edge off the vapor but it will also take the keto out of you.
The lesson here is to read the labels and ask the questions that will help you determine if any sneaky sugars are finding their way into your keto lifestyle.
Happy hunting, sugar crushers.