For our carb-driven bodies, it’s perfectly natural to crave something sugary the moment we feel low on energy. Carbs are our primary fuel, and sugar is the simplest way to get an immediate, albeit passing energy boost.
However, to elevate our energy levels properly and in a healthy, sustainable way, we can steer clear of refined sugar and find healthier alternatives – some of them artificial, some of them natural. Ideally, we should go for foods that contain natural sweeteners with a lower glycemic index than refined sugar instead of artificial options.
The goal is to find the kind of alternatives that are suitable for your health and that are low in calories and that don’t spike your blood sugar levels in ways that ordinary refined sugar does.
Stevia’s double identity
Derived from the plant Stevia rebaudiana, Stevia is an extremely popular low-calorie sweetener that can be found in numerous products made for those who want to lose weight or manage their blood sugar levels more easily. However, despite its natural origin, you’ll find that not all stevia products are made equal.
To find 100% naturally derived stevia, look for products that contain only organic stevia leaves and no additives or fillers that are artificial and can therefore affect the quality of the sweetener. Also, its flavor takes some getting used to, so you can try it out in smaller quantities in your own healthy sweet recipes at first.
Sugar alcohols such as Xylitol
Although their names might sound artificial, sugar alcohols such as xylitol, erythritol, and maltitol are naturally found in various types of fruits and veggies. Since they don’t mess with your blood sugar levels and contain very few calories (for example, 0.2 calories per gram for erythritol), they are a good option for people with diabetes, too.
However, if you use it in its powdered form, it’s most likely made industrially and therefore doesn’t always fall under “natural” sweeteners. Make sure to stick to low quantities, as it might lead to digestive issues such as bloating if consumed too much.
Found in some of your favorite fruits and foods, such as figs, raisins, and molasses, allulose is a simple sugar that is also extremely low in calories and it tastes very similar to regular sugar. This makes it a popular choice for people who, for example, cannot get accustomed to stevia.
It’s used in protein bars such as our own P.B. Meal Bar to give it that pleasantly sweet flavor without the impact on your blood sugar levels.
Honey, Molasses, Agave
Moving on to the sweeteners you most likely already have in your kitchen cabinets and use for a wide array of recipes, the three listed here aren’t the only natural sweeteners used in their raw form, but are certainly the most common.
However, honey, molasses, and agave are all high in calories and can affect your blood sugar levels, so it’s important to consume them in moderation and with care. They do contain numerous minerals and vitamins that elevate your immune system, as well as antioxidants and other compounds that make them much healthier than refined sugar.
Up for a date?
The sweet, delicious fruits of the date palm tree, dates are a favorite sugar replacement in many healthy recipes. They are easy to consume dried or fresh, and with a good food processor, you can turn them into a sweet paste for your home-made cookies and other sweets.
While they are high in calories and sugar, they don’t have the same impact on your blood sugar levels as ordinary refined sugar. Limit your daily intake, use a supplement blend such as Fab 4 with the right combination of vitamins and minerals, and your diet will be limited in sugar, but perfectly tailored to boost your energy levels.
Both artificial and natural sweeteners have a place in our diet, but the more you take control of your nutrition, the easier it will be for you to choose natural sugar alternatives. In case you’re still battling your sugar cravings, book a consultation with a functional medicine expert and start refining your diet as soon as possible.