Is sugar-free pudding okay for keto?

Quick Answer

Sugar-free pudding can be part of a keto diet, but it’s important to read labels carefully. Many sugar-free puddings contain maltitol or other sugar alcohols that can raise blood sugar and impact ketosis. The best options use allulose, stevia, or erythritol as sweeteners. Limit portions to avoid overdoing it on carbs.

What is Keto?

The ketogenic or “keto” diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares similarities with the Atkins diet. The goal is to put the body into a metabolic state called ketosis, where it starts burning fat for fuel instead of carbs.1

Ketosis occurs when carb intake is so low that the body becomes depleted of glycogen, its stored form of glucose. Glycogen is the body’s preferred energy source. But when it’s unavailable, the body adapts by producing ketones from fat breakdown. Ketones can be used for fuel in place of glucose.2

To induce ketosis, the keto diet typically limits carbs to 20-50 grams per day. It also emphasizes high intakes of fat and moderate amounts of protein.3

The keto diet was originally developed to treat epilepsy in children. But today it’s most popular for weight loss, diabetes, and several other health conditions.4

Keto Macros

The standard keto macronutrient ratios are:5

– Carbs: 5-10% of calories
– Protein: 15-20% of calories
– Fat: 70-80% of calories

So on a 2000 calorie keto diet, carbs would be limited to 100-200 calories, protein to 300-400 calories, and fat would make up the rest.

To stay in ketosis, most people need to keep net carbs under 50 grams, or even as low as 20 grams. Net carbs means total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols.

Keto Foods

Here are typical keto foods:6

– Meat, poultry, fish, eggs
– Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, peppers
– High-fat dairy like butter, heavy cream, cheese
– Nuts and seeds
– Avocados and berries
– Fats and oils: olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil
– Low-carb sweeteners: stevia, erythritol, monk fruit

Foods to avoid on keto include:

– Grains: bread, pasta, rice, cereal
– Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn
– Legumes: beans, peas, lentils
– Fruits: apples, bananas, mangos (berries in moderation)
– Sugary foods: sodas, fruit juice, smoothies, candy
– Processed low-fat foods: low-fat yogurt, salad dressing

Key Tips for the Keto Diet

Here are some important tips for success on the ketogenic diet:

– Minimize carbs from all sources. Track your intake to stay under 20-50 net grams per day.

– Increase healthy fats. Aim for 70% of calories from fat, which is very satisfying.

– Eat moderate protein. Too much can interfere with ketosis.

– Drink plenty of water. Aim for 8 glasses or more to stay hydrated.

– Supplement electrolytes. Getting extra sodium, magnesium and potassium helps prevent side effects like fatigue, cramps and headaches.

– Eat until satisfied, not overly full. Ketosis suppresses appetite, so don’t force feed.

– Test urine or blood ketones. This helps confirm you’ve achieved ketosis.

– Be patient. It can take a few weeks to become keto adapted and reach peak energy levels.

Is Sugar-Free Pudding Keto-Friendly?

Sugar-free or no-sugar-added pudding can be keto-friendly, but there are a few important caveats.

Many sugar-free puddings are sweetened with sugar alcohols like maltitol, which can affect blood sugar and ketosis. They may also contain starchy thickeners that boost carb counts.

Blood Sugar and Ketosis Effects

Sugar alcohols like maltitol and sorbitol are commonly used as sweeteners in reduced-calorie foods because they are lower in calories than sugar.7

Although sugar alcohols aren’t as sweet as sugar, they provide sweetness without significantly raising blood sugar levels. For this reason, foods with sugar alcohols can be labeled as “sugar-free” or “no sugar added.”

However, sugar alcohols are not completely without effect on blood sugar. They can still raise blood glucose and insulin to some degree, although less so than regular sugar.8

For most people, enjoying an occasional sugar-free pudding won’t be an issue. But for those following a strict keto diet, even small blood sugar fluctuations could conceivably bump you out of ketosis temporarily.

Some sugar alcohols also tend to cause gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and gas when consumed in large amounts.

Net Carbs

In addition to sugar alcohols, sugar-free puddings contain other carbohydrates like starches and fiber that contribute to total carb counts.

Many brands have around 15-25 grams of total carbs per serving, with about 5 grams as sugar alcohols. That leaves 10-20 grams of net digestible carbs, which can quickly add up.

On keto, most experts recommend keeping net carbs under 50 grams per day, ideally closer to 20-30 grams. So a large serving of sugar-free pudding could use up a significant chunk of your daily limit.

Keto-Friendly Sweeteners

To find the most keto-friendly sugar-free pudding options, look for these low-glycemic sweeteners:

Allulose – Provides a taste and texture similar to sugar with minimal impact on blood sugar. Does not count towards net carbs.9

Erythritol – Sugar alcohol that has minimal effects on blood sugar and insulin. Better tolerated than maltitol with less gastrointestinal side effects.10

Stevia – Herbal sweetener that has no calories and does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels.11

Monk Fruit – Fruit extract that provides sweetness with no calories or carbs. Used alone or blended with erythritol.12

These sweeteners allow you to get the delicious pudding flavor without kicking you out of ketosis or causing an energy crash later.


Many sugar-free puddings use starch-based thickeners to provide a rich, creamy texture. Common thickeners include:13

– Cornstarch
– Tapioca starch
– Potato starch
– Rice starch

These starches can add to the digestible carb content. Some keto-friendly pudding recipes use alternatives like chia seeds, avocado, or gelatin to thicken instead.

Overall, starchy thickeners aren’t necessarily off-limits if they fit into your daily carb allotment. Just be sure to account for them in your counts.

Choosing Keto-Friendly Pudding

When evaluating sugar-free pudding brands, look for these keto-friendly characteristics:

– Allulose, stevia, erythritol or monk fruit sweetener. Avoid maltitol.

– Total carbs around 10-15 grams per serving or less.

– Lower net carbs, around 5 grams. Subtract sugar alcohols and fiber.

– No high-carbohydrate thickeners like cornstarch.

– Higher fat content is preferable. Provides satiety and sustained energy.

Some examples of keto-friendly ready-made pudding cups include:

Jell-O Sugar Free Pudding Snacks

– 10 grams total carbs
– 5 grams net carbs
– Sweetened with stevia

Simply Delish Sugar Free Pudding

– 12 grams total carbs
– 4 grams net carbs
– Sweetened with sucralose and stevia

Nature’s Hollow Sugar Free Gelatin Pudding Cups

– 15 grams total carbs
– 3 grams net carbs
– Sweetened with erythritol and stevia

Enlightened Keto Pudding

– 8 grams total carbs
– 3 grams net carbs
– Sweetened with allulose and monk fruit

Homemade Keto Pudding

Whipping up your own homemade sugar-free pudding ensures you control the ingredients.

This keeps carbs low while letting you customize flavors and textures.

Here is a basic recipe for creamy vanilla keto pudding:14


– 2 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– Pinch of sea salt
– Sweetener to taste (stevia, allulose)
– 2 packets unflavored gelatin


1. Sprinkle gelatin over almond milk and let soften 5 minutes
2. Heat in small saucepan until dissolved, stiring constantly
3. Remove from heat and stir in sweetener and vanilla until blended
4. Let cool slightly then stir in heavy cream
5. Pour into serving cups and chill 2-3 hours until set
6. Enjoy!

You can swap in different sugar-free extracts like almond or lemon. Or blend in keto mix-ins like cocoa powder, peanut butter, or berries.

The gelatin helps provide rich texture without excess carbs. Use full-fat coconut milk or heavy whipping cream for healthy fats.

Health Benefits of Pudding

Assuming carb counts and portions are kept in check, sugar-free pudding can be part of a healthy keto diet.

Potential benefits include:

Satisfies cravings – Pudding’s creamy texture and sweet flavor satisfies desires for comfort foods. This prevents cheating and overeating on off-limits foods.

Convenient snack – Pre-portioned pudding cups are portable for an on-the-go keto snack. They require no prep.

Stress relief – Eating pudding stimulates happy memories and provides a mood boost. The combination of fat and gentle sweetness is soothing.

Probiotics – Some pudding brands add probiotic cultures like lactobacillus for gut health. Look for “live and active cultures.”

Vitamin D – Many puddings are made with vitamin D-fortified milk, which supports immune function and bone health.

Hydration – Dairy-based pudding provides fluid to help meet hydration needs, especially when made with milk instead of cream.

Just be sure to account for the carbs and calories. Don’t overdo higher-carb ingredients like milk and sugar alcohols.

Potential Downsides of Pudding

Here are some potential cons to keep in mind:

Carb creep – It’s easy to overeat pudding and exceed carb limits, especially with large servings. Portion control is key.

Sugar alcohols – In excess, sugar alcohols like maltitol can cause digestive upset in sensitive people.

Limited nutrients – Pudding is high in sugar and carbs compared to nutrition. Focus on nutrient-dense foods.

Food intolerances – Some puddings contain common allergens like dairy, eggs, nuts or soy. Read labels carefully.

High omega-6 – Most puddings made with vegetable oils provide unhealthy omega-6 fats. Better to make your own with olive oil or coconut milk.

As an occasional treat, sugar-free pudding can be part of a healthy keto approach. But it shouldn’t become a daily habit or basis of your diet.

Tips for Incorporating Pudding

Here are some tips for keeping sugar-free pudding keto-friendly:

– Stick to 1/2 cup serving size or less
– Choose options with 5 grams net carbs or fewer
– Avoid puddings sweetened with maltitol
– Read labels and count net carbs
– Make sure it fits your macros if eating daily
– Consider making your own from scratch
– Pair with high-fat foods like whipped cream or nuts
– Use pudding as a dip for strawberries or keto cookies
– Top with unsweetened coconut flakes for texture

Recipe Ideas

Here are some recipe ideas that use sugar-free instant pudding:

Chocolate Mousse15

– 1 package sugar-free chocolate pudding
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– Stevia to taste

Beat heavy cream until peaks form. Fold in prepared pudding mix, cocoa powder and stevia. Spoon into cups and refrigerate.

No-Bake Cheesecake16

– 1 package sugar-free vanilla pudding
– 8 oz cream cheese, softened
– 1/4 cup sour cream
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– Graham cracker crust

Beat together pudding mix, cream cheese, sour cream and vanilla until smooth. Spread into crust and chill.

Pudding Pops

– 1 package sugar-free pudding, any flavor
– 3/4 cup nut milk
– Popsicle molds and sticks

Prepare pudding with nut milk instead of water. Pour into molds, add sticks and freeze.

The Bottom Line

Sugar-free pudding can be included on a keto diet in moderation. To make the healthiest choice:

– Stick to 1/2 cup serving or less
– Look for options with erythritol or allulose instead of maltitol
– Keep net carbs under 5g per serving
– Avoid excessive intake from large portions
– Make sure pudding fits your daily macros
– Balance with low-carb, high-fat whole foods

Enjoying the occasional sugar-free pudding snack can add variety to your keto diet as long as portions are controlled. For the greatest blood sugar stability, make homemade pudding with keto-friendly ingredients.

Overall, sugar-free pudding can be a tasty option for satisfying your sweet tooth, as part of a well-formulated low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diet.

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