Have you been looking for a way to sweeten your coffee without sugar? When you have diabetes, you never get to stop thinking about the carbs you put in your body. A teaspoon of sugar isn’t so bad, but a daily indulgence can add up over time. And sometimes it’s nice to know that your morning coffee or tea will have less of an impact on your blood sugar (and still taste great).
We’ve tried every zero-carbohydrate sugar alternative that we’ve come across. Here are our opinions:
Allulose is our favorite alternative sweetener – in fact, we have an entire article on how much we love it! Of every alternative sweetener we’ve tried, it tastes the best, which is to say that it tastes the most like true sugar. There is no aftertaste, no chemical flavor, no strange mouthfeel issues. It might even be especially healthy.
You can buy allulose from a number of different suppliers, including Amazon, and every sample we’ve tried has been equally good. You can also find allulose in a liquid form, which makes adding to coffee or tea even easier.
Monk Fruit (aka Lo Han)
This is probably our second favorite sweetener to put in hot coffee. It’s a natural product, and the flavor is authentic and sweet, and has very little strange aftertaste.
Like allulose, it comes in a liquid form — you can squirt or drip it right into your coffee mug. Highly recommended!
If you’re ordering monk fruit powder, be sure to check whether or not it’s mixed with erythritol. These blends cost a bit less, but it does change the flavor.
Erythritol has lovers and haters. For our tastes, it’s not quite as yummy as allulose or monk fruit, but it’s better than aspartame and saccharine, the sugar alternatives that we grew up with. It shouldn’t affect your blood glucose levels much, but some people complain about gastrointestinal distress — something to be aware of!
Swerve is a popular brand of erythritol that has a couple of extra ingredients to improve the texture and flavor. Swerve is very popular for low-carb baking, and many people in the diabetes community are fiercely loyal to the product.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, like erythritol. It’s used in gums and mints because it supposedly helps fight tooth decay.
Unlike erythritol, xylitol is not zero-calorie and therefore may have a small blood sugar impact noticeable to fastidious readers. (It is also harmful to dogs, so especially if you have small dogs, you’ll want to be aware.)
We think it has a bit too much of that fake sugar aftertaste, but many people in the community love xylitol, so it may be worth a shot.
Stevia can have a strong chemical flavor, but some people in the diabetes and low-carb communities absolutely love it. Stevia is a natural sugar alternative, from the leaves of the stevia plant — it is very sweet.
Stevia comes in powder or in liquid, and can even be found in flavored drops, in case you want an instant hit of hazelnut or pumpkin spice in your coffee.
There are actually different types of stevia, and one of our tasters strongly prefers a type called “Reb A,” which is made from only a certain extra-delicious part of the plant. If you’ve tried stevia and haven’t liked it, it might be worth looking for the Reb A variety.
Sucralose has been around for a while, and is easily found at the grocery store in multiple forms. The popular Splenda brand is made from sucralose. Low-carb coffee and beverage lovers know that Torani Sugar-Free syrups use sucralose, and come in 37 different flavors. They’re a classic hit for a reason — they taste great in hot and cold drinks.
These blue packets have been around for ages. Many people have been happily eating aspartame for decades, but in our opinion, it just can’t compete with the new generation of alternative sweeteners.
There are also many products combine two of the sugar alternatives listen above, any one of which might hit your sweet spot. But it’s always worth it to check the ingredients. Some of these blends might combine actual sugar with sugar alternatives, like Equal, which surprisingly contains some dextrose.
If none of these alternatives work for you, seriously consider switching to iced coffee — nearly all work well in cold coffee, especially if you don’t overdo it. (The cold temperature tends to blunt the force of the off flavors that alternative sweeteners sometimes have.)
Another thing: It can take a week or so to adjust to the tastes of a new sweetener, so if you think one doesn’t taste awful but just funny, consider having it each morning for a week to see if your taste buds adjust. Almost all of these options will taste better as you get more used to them.
Last but not least, we’re all individuals with our own tastes — every one of the options we listed, even the ones the Diabetes Daily staff doesn’t like, has its loyal fans.
High Morning Blood Sugars
If you’re really trying to tame your morning blood sugar, you should be aware of some other factors:
Coffee — unsweetened black coffee — can raise your blood sugar! It has zero carbohydrates, but something about the caffeine causes blood sugar spikes in some people with diabetes.
Milk has a modest carbohydrate content, and if you’re using a lot of it (like in a latte), it’s something to pay attention to. You could try cream or unsweetened almond milk instead.
Many people experience glucose spikes every morning, seemingly unrelated to anything they’ve put in the body. This is usually something called “dawn phenomenon” or “feet on the floor effect” — and we have a guide for how to deal with it.