The Best Sugar Alternatives for Hashimoto’s (What To Use Instead)

The Best Sugar Alternatives for Hashimoto’s (What To Use Instead)

The promise of sugar alternatives is that you get to enjoy incredible sweetness without any of the unwanted side effects of excess sugar. 

In other words, you literally get to have your cake and eat it too. 

But is that really true? 

Sort of, and we will talk more about that later. 

But the starting argument that I’ll make is this: 

If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and you have the option to use a natural sweetener over an artificial sweetener, always opt for the natural version

The reason is simple. Unlike their artificial counterparts, they are NOT associated with…

This makes them the clear winner if you have Hashimoto’s but not necessarily the best option for weight loss, but hold that thought for a minute because we will come back to it. 

If you are simply looking for alternatives to processed sugar and artificial sweeteners, here are the ones you’d want to use: 

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#1. Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is a natural sweetener derived from the monk fruit tree and is about 250 times sweetener than table sugar. 

Compared to sugar, it contains zero calories. 

#2. Allulose 

Allulose is considered by many to be the go-to sugar replacement right now given its low-calorie content and its sweetness profile that is very similar to table sugar. 

Compared to sugar, allulose contains 90% fewer calories. 

#3. Stevia

Stevia is 200 to 400 times sweeter than table sugar making it the sweetest on this entire list. 

Stevia extracts are available usually as Reb A and it’s considered zero calories. 

#4. Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are extracted from fruits and vegetables (5) and include things like: 

  • Erythritol
  • Mannitol
  • And Xylitol

Compared to table sugar, they are about 60 to 100% as sweet, but vary depending on which ones you are looking at. 

In terms of calories, Xylitol contains 2.4 calories per gram and erythritol contains 0 calories per gram. 

So which one is best and should you use them? 

My opinion is that it doesn’t really matter because if you are asking yourself this question you’re thinking about it all wrong.

Here’s why:

#1. They Are Heavily Processed

When you look at the data, it’s clear: 

Processed foods should always be avoided. 

And even though you shouldn’t consider these sugar alternatives food, they still undergo a fair amount of processing. 

Allulose, for instance, is made by breaking down corn starch and other naturally occurring plant sugars using specific enzymes. 

And these enzymes, as far as I can tell, only come from a genetically modified E. coli strain (6). 

Stevia is created through a 7-step process that includes liquid extraction, purification, and crystallization (7). 

Xylitol is created through a 5 step process using chemical hydrogenation (8). 

I’m not trying to suggest that just because they are heavily processed implies that they are all bad, but, generally speaking, the more processed something is, the less healthy it becomes

I have a hard time accepting that compounds that undergo this degree of processing are all good, especially when evidence suggests that processed foods are so bad. 

#2. They Aren’t Considered Food

At their core, these alternatives are really only used to enhance the way food tastes, but there’s really no need to consume them. 

I would argue there’s no real benefit to them either. 

And anyone trying to suggest that they are actually beneficial is falling into the mindset that they are more medicinal than supplemental. 

For instance, even though there’s some data to suggest that allulose may help with fat loss, diabetes, and insulin, are you really going to start taking it as a supplement to treat these conditions? 

And if not, are you really trying to suggest that adding allulose to your homemade brownies is somehow treating your high blood sugar? 

Doesn’t it just make a lot more sense to not eat those things if you want to fix your blood sugar or lose weight? 

I think so, which is why the idea of using these alternatives to continue to make unhealthy lifestyle choices doesn’t make a lot of sense. 

#3. They Aren’t Side Effect Free

While these alternatives definitely have fewer side effects compared to artificial sweeteners, they aren’t completely side-effect-free. 

Fortunately, the biggest downside seems to be their impact on the gut where they can cause symptoms like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. 

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Unlike artificial sweeteners, it doesn’t appear that these natural versions cause harm to the gut microbiome, at least not based on available evidence but it seems hard to believe they can cause GI distress without impacting the microbiome at least a little bit. 

But this side effect isn’t as concerning as the fact that they may alter your perception of sweetness which impacts what I want to talk about next. 

#4. They Aren’t The Miracle Weight Loss Treatment You Think They Are

Let’s be honest for a minute here. 

The real reason that you, or anyone else for that matter, want to use these natural substitutes is because you like the idea of eating something sweet at only a fraction of its normal calorie content. 

And, because they are natural, you probably feel a lot better about eating them over something artificial. 

If this is true then, theoretically, it means you can maintain your lifestyle and still lose weight with minimal effort. 

The problem is, it just doesn’t work that way. 

It definitely doesn’t work that way with the artificial sweeteners as I already showed you. 

The more of those that you consume, the more likely you are to be overweight. 

But what does the research show for natural options like Stevia? 

One study looked at this very thing and here’s what they found: 

In a randomized controlled setting, the use of stevia for 12 weeks had no impact on weight, insulin, or blood sugar compared to placebo (9). 

They did find, however, that those taking stevia didn’t gain weight, unlike those who weren’t taking it. 

So maybe at best, we can say that stevia doesn’t cause weight gain, but it’s certainly not a weight loss treatment. 

At least not an effective one. 

And I think the reason for that is simple: 

The people who lose weight and keep it off are those who find a way to change their lifestyle and stick to it. 

The Problem With “Natural” Sweeteners

The problem with all of these sugar substitutes is that they really just promote more unhealthy choices, at least for most people. 

This is why people who swap from full-sugar soda to diet soda don’t really see a difference in their health (10). 

The real issue is the fact that they are drinking soda, not whatever it’s being sweetened with. 

And, there’s even some evidence to suggest that these sweeteners may make losing weight more difficult by altering your preference for eating sweet foods.

The more sweetness that comes into contact with your tongue, the more you want. 

So, in a very real sense, you may be self-sabotaging your weight loss efforts by trading off a small reduction in calories for intense sugar cravings down the line. 

Who do you think is going to win? Your willpower or your biologically driven food cravings? 

We already know how this story plays out and willpower doesn’t win. 

In my opinion, this is probably why these sugar alternatives don’t really help with weight loss even though that’s their draw. 

What to Use Instead

So what should you use? 

Here’s how I would think about the priority. 

No matter what, artificial sweeteners like Splenda and aspartame should always be avoided. 

There’s really no good reason to consume these ever. 

Likewise, there’s really no good reason to consume processed sugars like table sugar and brown sugar. 

These also cause tons and tons of issues. 

The real question is, should you use natural sugar alternatives like stevia and allulose over whole-food sweeteners like honey or maple syrup? 

And here’s where I’m going to buck the trend and say honey and maple syrup are the winners for thyroid patients. 

Not only are these options considered whole foods, but they are minimally processed, they contain plenty of other beneficial bioactive compounds (11), and they don’t trigger sugar cravings like the substitutes do. 

And, most important of all, eating them will force you to change your lifestyle which is good!

Is there a place for the natural alternatives if you have Hashimoto’s? 

I would say, sure, a little bit here and there in moderation isn’t going to cause problems. 

The best use case is to swap out these natural options in places where you’d normally use processed sugar. 

That might be like oatmeal or coffee or something similar. 

As far as which one you use, that’s more a matter of preference. 

I would say they are all pretty much equal in that regard so as long as you keep your dose low, it doesn’t really matter. 

If you do decide to use them, think of them more as a treat or something that you would only use occasionally. 

Don’t think of them as a way to continue to eat unhealthy food with fewer calories. 

For instance, eating “sugar-free” ice cream every night. 

If your main goal is to lose weight then what you will really want to do is change your lifestyle, cut out all sources of artificial and natural sweeteners, and just eat whole foods like fruits and fruit juices as your source of sweetness

Not only are these healthier options, but they can also improve your thyroid. 

And if you want to learn which fruits and fruit juices are best for your thyroid, check out this article next

Scientific References

#1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6221534/

#2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10465821/

#3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29159583/

#4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4500487/

#5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9261844/

#6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9048046/

#7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4890837/

#8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6920771/

#9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7600789/

#10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5998368/

#11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9263567/

the best sugar alternatives for your thyroid

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About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 80,000+ people have used them over the last 7 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do.

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