Sugar free pudding can have a moderate amount of carbs, depending on the specific ingredients. Many sugar free puddings are made with sugar substitutes and contain 5-15g net carbs per serving. The main sources of carbs in sugar free pudding are usually modified food starch, milk or cream, and small amounts of sugar alcohols. So sugar free pudding can fit into a lower carb diet in moderation, but may not be ideal for strict keto or very low carb diets.
Carb Content of Popular Sugar Free Pudding Brands
Here is the carb content for some popular sugar free pudding brands (per 1/2 cup serving):
|Brand||Total Carbs||Net Carbs|
|Jell-O Sugar Free Pudding||15g||5g|
|Snack Pack Sugar Free Pudding||15g||15g|
|Kozy Shack Simply Well Pudding||18g||16g|
|Hunt’s Snack Pack Sugar Free Pudding||9g||8g|
As you can see, most sugar free pudding options range from 5-15g net carbs per serving. The ingredients and exact carb counts can vary between brands.
Ingredients in Sugar Free Pudding
Here are some of the main ingredients found in many sugar free pudding products:
Modified Food Starch
This is used to help thicken and stabilize the pudding. Common sources of modified food starch include corn, wheat, tapioca or potato. It provides carbohydrates and accounts for a significant portion of the carbs in sugar free pudding.
Milk or Cream
Most puddings use milk or cream, which contain naturally occurring sugars (lactose) that contribute to the carb content. Some brands use half & half or heavy cream which is lower in carbs than milk.
Many sugar free puddings contain small amounts of sugar alcohols like maltitol, xylitol or erythritol. These provide sweetness similar to sugar, but with fewer carbs. However they can still have a mild effect on blood sugar levels.
Cocoa or Chocolate
Chocolate and cocoa powder add flavor and richness to chocolatey pudding varieties. Cocoa powder contains some carbohydrates so chocolate puddings may be slightly higher in carbs than vanilla.
Natural & Artificial Flavors
Sugar free puddings contain flavorings to make them taste like their regular counterparts, without all the added sugar. Natural flavors like vanilla extract add minimal carbs, while artificial flavors don’t contain any.
Ingredients like gelatin, guar gum or xanthan gum help give sugar free pudding its thick, creamy texture. These thickeners and stabilizers are carbohydrate-free.
Instead of sugar, most sugar free puddings are sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame or stevia. These provide zero or minimal carbs per serving.
Nutrition Facts Comparison
Here is a nutrition facts label comparison between Jell-O instant sugar free chocolate pudding and Jell-O instant regular chocolate pudding:
|Nutrition Facts||Sugar Free Chocolate Pudding||Regular Chocolate Pudding|
|Serving Size||1/2 cup (99g)||1/2 cup (106g)|
As you can see, the regular pudding has 24g of sugar compared to 0g in the sugar free version. However, the sugar free pudding still provides 15g total carbs, mostly from the modified food starch.
So sugar free pudding eliminates the sugars but still contains a moderate amount of carbohydrates per serving.
Carb Count May Vary By Flavor
Keep in mind the net carb counts can also vary depending on the specific flavor of sugar free pudding.
For example, sugar free chocolate or pistachio puddings may be slightly higher in carbs than sugar free vanilla pudding. This is because the cocoa powder or pistachio contain some natural carbohydrates.
The best way to know exactly how many carbs are in a particular sugar free pudding is to check the nutrition label or product info from the manufacturer.
Low Carb Substitutions
There are a few substitutions you can make to lower the carb content in sugar free instant pudding:
– Use heavy cream instead of milk. Heavy cream has only 1g net carbs per 1/4 cup compared to 6g in 1/4 cup of 2% milk.
– Try mixing in a tablespoon of chia seeds or flax meal. This adds fiber and thickness to help offset the carbs.
– Add a few drops of sugar free flavored syrups like caramel, almond or vanilla. This provides sweetness with minimal carbs.
– Mix in a teaspoon of cocoa powder or instant coffee granules for extra richness.
– Fold in a dollop of low carb whipped cream to make it creamier.
Tips for Low Carb Eating
Here are some tips for enjoying sugar free pudding as part of a low carb or keto eating plan:
– Stick to 1/2 cup portion sizes to keep carbs in check. Avoid going back for second helpings.
– Have it as an occasional treat rather than an everyday food. Limit higher carb desserts to keep daily carbs low.
– Pair it with high protein foods like sugar free Greek yogurt or nut butter to help balance blood sugar response.
– Enjoy it after a low carb meal to minimize blood sugar and insulin spike impact.
– Try making chia seed pudding instead. Simply mix chia seeds with almond milk or coconut milk for a naturally thickened, lower carb pudding.
Should You Have Sugar Free Pudding on Keto?
Here are some tips on whether you can include sugar free pudding in a keto diet:
– It may be possible in very small amounts, but sugar free pudding is quite high in carbs for standard keto macros. Most keto diet plans recommend limiting carbs to 20-50g per day.
– A 1/2 cup serving can provide around 15g total carbs, which uses up a significant chunk of your daily carb limit.
– Some people can still remain in ketosis at up to 50g daily carbs. So an occasional 1/2 cup may be ok, but it really depends on the individual.
– Pay close attention to how your body responds. Check for signs of knocked out ketosis like cravings or fatigue. Monitor urine ketones.
– Focus on getting the bulk of carbs from low carb vegetables, nuts and dairy instead. Think of sugar free pudding as rare treat.
– Make lower carb substitutions when possible, like using heavy cream instead of milk or adding chia seeds for thickness.
In general, most people following a strict keto diet should avoid sugar free pudding or limit to a couple tablespoon serving a couple times per month. Work it occasionally into your macros if you can tolerate it without disrupting ketosis. Otherwise, it’s better to satisfy sweet cravings with keto-friendly dessert options that are lower in carbs.
Carb Count in Sugar Free Pudding vs Yogurt
How does the carb count of sugar free pudding compare to sugar free yogurt?
Here is a comparison of net carbs in 1/2 cup servings:
|Sugar free pudding (average)||10g|
|Plain 0% Greek Yogurt||3-5g|
|Flavored 0% Greek Yogurt||10-15g|
As you can see, plain nonfat Greek yogurt is lowest at 3-5g net carbs. Flavored yogurts are similar to pudding at 10-15g net carbs.
So plain Greek yogurt can be a great low carb alternative to sugar free pudding. However, the flavored varieties contain similar carbs to pudding, so they are not necessarily better options.
Sugar Alcohol Effects
One thing to note about puddings sweetened with sugar alcohols is that they can cause digestive effects like gas, bloating or diarrhea when eaten in large amounts.
Sugar alcohols are not fully absorbed and can ferment in the intestines. So pay attention to your individual tolerance level.
The other aspect of sugar alcohols is that they can still create a small insulin response and impact blood sugar, so they are not zero-carb sweeteners. But overall, sugar alcohols like erythritol have less impact than regular sugar.
What About Homemade Sugar Free Pudding?
You can also make sugar free instant pudding at home using your own ingredients:
– Unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
– Sugar substitute like Swerve, Splenda or stevia
– Sugar freeinstant pudding mix
– Thickeners like collagen peptides, chia seeds or xanthan gum
– Sugar free chocolate chips, cocoa powder, etc for flavor
This allows you to control the carb count and ingredients. You can experiment with different sugar free sweeteners to find the perfect taste and texture.
Making homemade sugar free pudding also allows you to adjust the portions. You can make single servings rather than a large batch.
In summary, sugar free pudding can contain a moderate amount of carbs, primarily from modified food starch used as a thickener. It provides around 5-15g net carbs per typical 1/2 cup serving.
Sugar free pudding may fit into a low carb diet in smaller portions as an occasional treat. But it is quite high in carbs for a strict keto diet. Plain Greek yogurt tends to be lower in carbs than both sugar free pudding and flavored yogurts.
Pay attention to your own carb tolerance and look for low carb swaps like using heavy cream or adding chia seeds to homemade pudding. Overall, sugar free pudding can be an option in moderation for low carb diets when you account for the carbs, but there are better choices for keeping carbs minimal.