Advice on Sugar and Keto

(Andrew) #1

I started my keto journey back on 1st August 2019 and to this day I have lost around 26lbs. I weighed close to 28 stone before starting and the craving for carbs and sugar were absolutly god awful in the first week. To keep that at bay, as part of my diet I’ve been including a bar of at least 70% cocoa dark chocolate as part of my evening meal / snack. Typically this will be something like a Lindt 85% or a Green & Blacks 70% velvet edition. I try to be very careful with my carbs and I monitor everything I have in myfitnesspal, so on a day when I’ve had very few carbs (10g or less) I will have a 70% bar which still keeps me under 50g carbs a day, but on a day where I’ve had more carbs, I’ll have a Lindt. In both scenarios I remains under 50g of carbs a day. My concern however is the sugar. I know there is a blanket answer of ‘sugar is bad on keto’ but I’m looking for some advice on a ‘recommended’ limit for my daily sugar intake and how that number relates to my total carbs? As an example, with my days meal and chocolate tonight, the total carbs is 43g and the sugar is 38g for the day. I would be very grateful for any opinions , recommendations of guidance around this. I am fully aware that due to my size and the deficit of calories/carbs I have, I may not actually be in ketosis (I’m getting some rest strips for that) but when the weight loss slows eventually, I want to make sure I am doing keto right. Thanks in advance!

(kicking cancer's butt with keto) #2

Why did you choose 50g of carbs as your limit? There is no reason to eat chocolate just to add carbs. It’s best to just limit sugar in general, no matter how many carbs you are eating.

As an example, I try to keep my carbs under 20g a day. Now, if I were to keep my carbs under 50g then, in theory, I should be able to have a sugar-filled tea and not have problems.

Here is what happened when I drank sugar-filled tea (about 27g of sugar)

It was an accidental consumption of sugar, simple sugar, that had an immediate, pronounced, and prolonged effect! Now, I’m certain that if that 27g extra grams of carbs had come from say, broccoli or zucchini, my glucose readings would have been very different (and I’m not going to try it just to see).

Having a deficit in calories is not advised (eat more fat and protein). If you can, keep carbs under 20g, or as close to it as possible. Avoid sugar as much as possible, its just not needed.

(The remembrance of bacon past.) #3

Table sugar, sucrose, is a molecule of glucose bonded with a molecule of fructose. Too much fructose has a bad effect on the liver, which is why we recommend staying away from sugar at all costs. It also has addictive effects on a large chunk of the population.

In theory, however, as long as you count your sugar intake along with the rest of your carbohydrate and keep the total under your limit, you should be fine. You’ll be getting better nutrition with other types of carbohydrate, because sugar contains no minerals or vitamins whatsoever.

Remember that the goal is to keep your insulin low enough to allow metabolic healing and fat loss to occur. And the key to keeping insulin low is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. Our recommended limit is 20 g/day, because it will keep the insulin of almost everyone low enough for them to get into ketosis. The only exception will be people who are so insulin resistant that they have to be even stricter with their carbohydrate limit. If you don’t get the results you are looking for on keto, the first thing is to cut your carbohydrate intake, and sugar should probably be the first of that intake to go.

(Michael - Don't expect miracles and you won't be disappointed.) #4

First, congratulations on your weight loss to date. You must be doing something right. :wink:

Second, my answer to your question: none.

As @PaulL says, when starting keto the recommendation is to eat sub-20 grams of carbs per day to keep your glucose and insulin low enough to enable fatty acid release from adipose cells and ketone production, and to enable your cells and organs to adapt to utilizing fatty acids and ketones for fuel. This takes time depending how severe the metabolic damage that needs repair. If you don’t remain consistently in ketosis, you slow down or even prevent this occurring and just prolong the agony.

At 50 grams of carbs per day, you are dancing on the edge. Other than your chocolate bars, you have not told us what or how much you’re eating. So maybe you simply restricted calories to lose the weight. That works for a while, but not long term. You describe a very strong craving for carbs/sugar, which at more or less 6 weeks in suggests to me that you are probably not in ketosis consistently. Possibly at all. You will know better after your test strips arrive.

As Paul mentions, some people are addicted to carbs and/or sugar. You may be one of them. If so that makes it all the more imperative to avoid them. It may be difficult and painful in the short term, but in the long term you will be glad you did it.

Finally, some folks ultimately decide that keto is not really best for them. Although being in ketosis brings many health benefits, it requires effort and dedication. Just low carb or even just lower carb is better than remaining on SAD.

(Susan) #5

20 grams of carbs or less, NO sugar, adequate proteins, healthy fats, avoid processed foods, drink enough water and electrolytes --this is basic keto =).

If you do all this, you will be in Ketosis and feel great soon enough, as soon as you get rid of the Carb and Sugar withdrawal =).

Welcome to the forum, Andrew, and best wishes on your Keto journey.

(Joey) #7

@nitrox91 First, welcome to the forum and hearty congrats on your health accomplishments thus far!

Okay, since you’ve asked for a recommendation, I’ll add my long-winded response to the others you’ve gotten above:

Absolutely no sugar.

Nada. Zip.

Did I say no sugar? Like, really, NONE?



Okay, but what about artificial sweeteners?

Nope. Get over it. You’re fooling yourself (although not really fooling your brain).

I know there are a number of folks on keto who use one or another kind of artificial sweetener (although it’s often you’ll hear someone tell you they can tolerate this chemical but they can’t tolerate this other chemical…) There are also many who don’t use artificial sweeteners at all either. Because they’re sweet. And sweet is dangerous and messes with your brain and is likely to trick your metabolism into doing things you don’t want it to do (release insulin for no good reason).

Okay, my bias: I happen to be in that latter group that doesn’t use sugar or sweeteners. Then again, at some point, even heroine junkies get themselves off of methadone if they really want to live a clean life. (Thankfully, I’ve never had to face had that miserable life experience.)

Conveniently, not eating any sugar also makes the carbohydrate macronutrient calorie algebra easy too. Same answer: zero (0g of sugar x 4 kcal/g = 0 kcal)

So let’s be honest with each other. Sugar itself is not a nutrient. Could some amount of sugar be lurking in certain foods and recipes - not that you’ve added, but perhaps in a restaurant, slipped into a sauce despite your trying diligently to avoid such menu choices? Sure. Can’t do much about living life in our Western world.

But your body needs no amount of sugar. None.

Contrary to being a nutrient, it’s a highly addictive, unhealthy substance that behaves much like a drug in terms of the effect it produces in our brains (and deleterious effects on most other organs and tissues along the way).

Experiments on cocaine-addicted rats have demonstrated that over 90% of them - when offered the mutually exclusive choice of cocaine or sugar (or saccharine, for that matter) - will choose the sweetened water instead of their customary cocaine fix. Seriously. This is dangerous stuff.

I’m afraid it’s time to get over this idea that some amount of a highly addictive, unhealthy heavily processed chemical is “okay” as long as you just set some arbitrary limit s for yourself. Good luck with that program.

Now, if you really need to hear a “non-zero” answer to your request for a recommendation - one that makes you feel better (less guilty?) for mistreating your body - then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place.

This forum is populated with a large number of folks who have come to varying degrees of killing themselves by eating sugar. So you’d be wise to try another source for getting such a recommendation :wink:

Or, as my friend @amwassil puts it …

Short. And sweet.

Congrats again on your strong start. I sincerely wish you every continued success in kicking the old habits, and in making sure you enjoy the rest of your life in this new, more healthy body you’re crafting for yourself! :+1:

(Full Metal KETO) #8

I love this analogy Joey! Probably going to piss some folks off though…:slightly_smiling_face:. Not naming names. :cowboy_hat_face:

(squirrel-kissing paper tamer) #9

I kind of look at it like why restrict sugar all day if you’re just going to have it before bed. I’m not judging or saying you shouldn’t, but I wouldn’t. I understand you may be able to do it all day because you have the incentive of the chocolate before bed, but if you do decide to cut it out you could make zero sugar chocolate with artificial sweeteners, or better yet have a cup of tea with cream. It may fill that bedtime snack need and the benefit is no sugar.

I don’t think 50 grams of carbs a day is necessarily bad, everyone has their personal limit. I do think you’d benefit more if those carbs came from incidentals (what’s in cream or eggs, for example) and vegetables.

Again, just my personal experience. Congratulations on your success so far!

(Andrew) #10

Thank you everyone for the feedback. The message is clear…avoid sugar. I’ll slowly start to cut the chocolate down over the next few weeks to nothing to ease into it. Thanks again!

(Joey) #11

@nitrox91 Good plan. But just to clarify, it’s the sugar, not necessarily the chocolate per se

Like you, I’m a fellow lover of chocolate flavor. So I’ll recommend that once your “sweet tooth” settles down a bit, you might consider 100% Pure Cacao powder. It’s great to have around for lots of uses and - when real natural pure chocolate is not bogged down with sweeteners - its truly sublime flavor finally has the opportunity to shine through.

Here are a couple of uses I regular employ…

1 - I put a tblsp in my morning mug of fresh ground dark french roast coffee. It adds a smooth mocha taste with no sugar. Dark and mysterious way to start my day :wink: And it holds me over nicely until around 2pm when I begin to consider my first meal of the day.

2 - I often make little coconut oil & cacao powder bite-sized nibbles. Sometimes I’ll add a pecan to each one, sometimes just naked. Here’s how: Warm up the coconut oil slightly, just enough to liquefy. Stir in enough cacao powder to produce a deep dark color (usually around 2:1 ratio, coco oil:cacao powder, works out nicely). While still liquid, spoon the mix into little molds (use whatever you have around - for me I’ve found little plastic watercolor paint trays with half-sphere shapes work nicely). Then pop in the fridge where they keep beautifully - pretty much forever. Two or three of these go great with whatever’s left in my glass of red wine. A divine way to cap off the end of my dinner.

Once the general craving for sugar dissipates, you’ll likely find that a little unsweetened cocoa flavor tucked in here and there can be a wonderful keto-friendly treat.

There are folks who insist that cacao is really good for you (anti-oxidant, etc.) - which may be a bonus. But in moderation, there’s very little carbohydrate content in the pure form and so it’s a great natural flavor to work into your menu.


(BuckRimfire) #12

I have a pack of roasted cacao nibs from Trader Joe’s that claims a 2 tablespoon serving has 4 g carb and 3 g fiber. They’re pretty intense, so that’s one time I think the serving size is pretty generous. A few of these added to your coconut oil/cacao drops would give it a nice little extra crunch and zing. I may try that soon!

(Bunny) #13

38 grams of sugar in one meal or a day? Wow that’s more sugar than I would eat in a week or more, my question would be is that a free sugar or a whole sugar (encased in fruit); the free sugar (e.g. juice) is more likely to be stored as fat as opposed to the encased whole food sugar with its natural fibers and micronutrients which is absorbed much slower than the free sugar which means insulin is less likely to store it as fat.


[1] “…To find out just how much sugar you can eat on the keto diet, we asked Brittanie Volk, PhD, RD, senior clinical and patient engagement specialist at Virta Health, for answers.

“To achieve the many health benefits that a ketogenic diet has to offer, one needs to consume only the amount of carbohydrates that the individual can tolerate to stay in nutritional ketosis,” she told POPSUGAR. "This amount differs from person to person but is generally less than 50 grams of total carbohydrates per day. That means all sources of carbohydrate, including refined sugar, should be limited to as little as possible to avoid the impact carbohydrates can have on blood sugar and insulin levels."

So while sugar is a carb and does count toward your 50 grams or less a day, you should still limit sugar intake so as not to spike your blood sugar. Yes, you can still have it, but make sure that sugar, combined with all your other sources of carbohydrates, stays below your threshold of about 50 grams a day. …” …More