You’re getting ready to bake pecan pie but missing one essential ingredient: corn syrup.
Then you’ve come to the right place! This article will help you find the proper substitute for corn syrup and make a keto replacement yourself.
Is Corn Syrup Keto?
Corn syrup is a viscous sweetener derived from cornstarch. Cornstarch is a multiple sugar, a polysaccharide.
In short, corn syrup is produced by breaking down corn starch into individual glucose molecules. Because of its high sugar content, it stands to reason that corn syrup is high in carbohydrates.
Carbs in Corn Syrup
100 grams of commercial corn syrup gives us the following nutritional values(*):
- Energy: 283 calories
- Protein: 0.0 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 76.8 grams
- Dietary fiber: 0.0 grams
- Net carbs: 76.8 grams
Simply put, corn syrup consists only of sugar and water.
Since corn syrup is primarily carbohydrates and contains no proteins, it is gluten-free. However, this is why it is unsuitable for low-carb diets like keto.
With this in mind, can corn syrup be healthy?
Why Should I Substitute Corn Syrup?
Concentrations of these plant toxins are exceptionally high in pest-resistant plant cultivars such as corn (Macedo et al. 20152).
As a result, scientists are concerned that corn consumed today is causing problems that would not have occurred a hundred years ago (NAS 20166).
In short, corn syrup is nothing more than simple sugar syrup made from corn instead of sugar beets.
Therefore, corn syrup can drive blood sugar and insulin levels to unexpected heights. Thus, it induces an antilipolytic effect (Jensen et al. 19897).
That means it inhibits the fat breakdown (lipolysis) and promotes fat gain (Meijssen et al. 20018).
Nevertheless, there is a difference between corn syrup and High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), which plays a significant role in the obesity epidemic in the United States.
To make HFCS from corn syrup, you must add enzymes to the corn syrup to convert some of the glucose into fructose, the sweet molecule in sugar. While sugar contains 50% fructose, HFCS can have more.
Since fructose inhibits satiety and fuels cravings, this is a severe difference (Shapiro et al. 20089).
Even though corn syrup is not as harmful to health as HFCS, it is only one processing step away.
Best Corn Syrup Alternatives
Although your health should avoid sugar and sweeteners, this resolution can’t always be realized 100%.
Hence, it is only human that you will enjoy the one or other dessert that awakens nostalgic feelings. For this reason, the following alternatives to corn syrup don’t have to make you feel guilty.
Light Corn Syrup Substitute
The best way to replace light corn syrup is to make keto corn syrup yourself.
Another alternative is a sugar-free simple syrup (product link) based on monk fruit and sugar alcohols. Because it’s calorie-free, it can’t spike blood sugar like corn syrup.
Nevertheless, studies suggest monk fruit may stimulate insulin production directly in the pancreas (Zhou et al. 200910).
Hence, it is high-fiber and does not contain glucose, but it breaks fast.
Last but not least, this product is also highly processed, so it is not necessarily healthier than corn syrup.
Dark Corn Syrup Substitute
A readily available alternative to dark corn syrup is a sugar-free gold syrup (product link) based on stevia and sugar alcohols.
Once again, it will not spike blood sugar but break a fast.
However, according to studies, stevia may stimulate insulin production directly in the pancreas (Jeppesen et al. 200011).
Corn Syrup Substitutes for Baking
Honey is an entirely natural substitute for corn syrup in baking.
You can substitute corn syrup 1:1 with honey. However, honey may crystallize like sugar, so it’s not the best choice for making candy or caramel.
Although honey is about 40% glucose and 30% fructose, it is not industrially produced, making it a healthier alternative than sugar-free products.
Nevertheless, this is unsuitable for a low-carb diet like the keto diet.
If you aim to reduce carbohydrates, it’s better to use the abovementioned products or make your own low-carb corn syrup.
Corn Syrup Substitute for Pecan Pie and Icing
Pecan pie is traditionally made with either maple or corn syrup. Maple syrup is also a 1:1 substitute for corn syrup for frosting cakes.
Therefore, if you want to replace corn syrup with a low-carb alternative, a high-fiber maple syrup (product link) based on monk fruit and sugar alcohol is a good choice.
The concerns are the same as for the light corn syrup substitute. Ultimately, using trusted ingredients, a homemade corn syrup replacement low in carbs is the best cake alternative.
Keto Corn Syrup Recipe
For the best way to get an alternative to corn syrup that will make minimally processed dishes, low in carbohydrates, and free of additives, check out this low-carb recipe for corn syrup.
Keto Corn Syrup Replacement
- 3/4 cup Erythritol
- 1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 3/4 cup Water hot
- Pour hot water into a bowl and whisk in erythritol.
- Whisk in the vanilla extract and slowly stir in xanthan gum.
- Strain the low carb corn syrup into a jar and store in the pantry.
Buy Low-Carb Corn Syrup Substitutes
Unfortunately, there’s not always enough time to make a healthier alternative to corn syrup yourself.
If you can’t find a decent corn syrup substitute at your grocery store, here are the best low-carb alternatives you can buy on Amazon today (product links):
Don’t Overdo Substitutes on Keto
Replacements usually come with a catch. For example, the supposedly natural agave syrup consists of up to 97% fructose, making it an excellent recipe for a fatty liver.
Those who want to lose weight in the long term through keto or another dietary change should not overdo it with alternatives to corn syrup.
According to studies, sweeteners make people even more hungry for sweets (Yang 201011).
To escape this vicious circle, you must either give up sweets or restore the natural balance between eating and fasting.
You can learn the latter playfully and step by step in my book Intermittent Fasting 101: The Science-Backed Beginner’s Guide to Lose Weight Without Dieting and Working Out.
What can be used instead of corn syrup?
You can replace corn syrup 1:1 with maple syrup.
What can I use instead of corn syrup in baking?
Use honey or a sugar-free gold syrup to replace corn syrup in baking.
What is the same as corn syrup?
You can substitute corn syrup with maple syrup or honey.
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Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.
Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.
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