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Is Sugar Free Jello Keto – How To Tell

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Is sugar free jello keto friendly? A box of sugar free jello seems like an obvious choice for those on a ketogenic diet or living a low carb lifestyle. But is sugar free jello actually keto friendly? The answer is yes and no. Depending on what ingredients the jello has the artificial sweeteners in it can pull you out of ketosis anyway. Read this article to learn which sugar free jello is keto and low carb friendly, which ones are not and how to make your own!

blueberry sugar free jello on a plate with mint leaves

What is jello?

Jello is made from a combination of gelatin, juice, water and sweetener. Gelatin is a gelling agent that solidifies the liquid ingredients in jello made from pig, cow skin and tendons. So jello is not vegetarian or vegan friendly.

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Agar agar is a healthier alternative to gelatin that can be used to make gelled deserts like jello. Believe it or not agar is made of seaweed. If you want to make homemade jello agar agar is a great way to make jello an appropriate snack for a clean keto diet. It’s hard to find healthy sugar-free deserts out there, but if you choose the right jello that’s exactly what you will have!

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Jello has a squishy texture and a tart taste. Many people enjoy eating jello with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Sugar free comes in all different flavors like black cherry, orange and strawberry. Gelatin deserts are often made with heavy whipping cream or cream cheese and are considered an excellent choice for those on sugar free diets or for people who cannot chew.

Is Sugar Free Jello Keto?

“Is sugar free jello keto?” This is a hard question to answer; it really depends on who you’re talking to. Some people just care about whether or not a food will satisfy their cravings while allowing them to stay on their low carb diet. Others who take a more holistic approach to keto and are doing it for health reasons will have a different opinion.

All-in-all regular sugar free jello is highly processed. Some of the sweeteners used to make it have an even higher glycemic index than real sugar does. Other more natural forms of sugar free jello use Stevia which won’t raise your glycemic index. On top of that there are plenty of brands that use chemical sweeteners that won’t raise your blood sugar, but will cause other symptoms.

Ultimately I don’t think a box of sugar free jello here or there will ruin your keto goals, but I wouldn’t rely on it as a ketogenic dietary staple. At the end of the day you need to decide whether sugar free jello is keto for yourself. I’ll present you with the facts and opinion and you can make a choice.

Sugar free jello can be part of a dirty keto diet, but is not suitable for a clean keto diet. Healthier sugar free jello made from Agar Agar and Stevia can be eaten on a regular basis for a clean keto diet.

Stevia and Monk Fruit are keto sweeteners that can be used on a keto or low carb diet.

What Ingredients Are In Sugar Free Jello?

Here is an ingredient list for sugar free jello.

  • Gelatin
  • Adipic Acid
  • Disodium Phosphate
  • Maltodextrin
  • Fumaric Acid
  • Aspartame (Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine)
  • Natural and Artificial Flavor,
  • Acesulfame Potassium (Sweetener),
  • Salt,
  • Yellow 6,
  • Red 40,
  • BHA (Preservative).
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Disodium Phosphate

Jello Nutrition Facts

Here is the nutritional information for one serving of sugar free jello:

  • 1g total carbs
  • 1g net carbs
  • 0g fat
  • 0g protein
  • 5 calories.

So as you see there is very little nutritional value in jello, but it works well as a sweet treat on a keto or even a gluten free diet.

Maltodextrin in Sugar Free Jello

bottle of maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is commonly used in sugar free Jell-O as a sweetener which is ironic because it has just as many calories as sugar and has a higher glycemic index. So eating maltodextrin will pull you out of ketosis faster than sugar.

What is maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin is an ultra processed ingredient derived from corn, rice, potato, wheat or tapioca.  The starches from these ingredients go through a process called partial hydrolysis which involves cooking the starch at a high temperature and mixing it with acids or enzymes until they’ve broken down into a flavorless powder.  

Is maltodextrin keto friendly?

Maltodextrin is not keto friendly because it spikes blood sugar levels even more than sugar does. Regular sugar has a glycemic index of 65 while maltodextrin has a glycemic index of 100. You need to understand what it is before you decide whether or not you want to keep it in your diet at all.

Consuming maltodextrin can easily kick you out of ketosis and slow down your weight loss efforts. Not to mention maltodextrin is highly processed and isn’t good for you in general.

Side effects of maltodextrin

Even though maltodextrin is approved for food use by the FDA it’s associated with negative side effects. Maltodextrin can cause stomach aches, cramps, gas and diarrhea. According to research maltodextrin has also been proven to alter gut bacteria by causing the bacteria to stick to the cells that line the intestinal wall. Which is what causes diarrhea.

Maltodextrin uses

Maltodextrin is used by extreme athletes to raise blood sugar during activities that diminishes carbohydrate stores. Personally I rather eat a piece of fruit if I need sugar and carbs.

Aspartame In Sugar Free Jello

Aspartame and PKU

On the back of every box there is a warning label that says Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine. While it’s scary that there is a warning on sugar free jello, the warning has to do with people who have PKU a genetic disorder formally called phenylketonuria. People with PKU have to avoid aspartame because it causes brain damage, seizures and mental disabilities.

Aspartame associated symptoms

Even if you don’t have PKU, aspartame is associated with bloating and diarrhea just like maltodextrin. There are plenty of other alternative sweeteners you can use that don’t cause symptoms. Some people believe aspartame causes cancer.

pills going into coffee cup

“A large 2022 cohort study in PLOS Medicine, involving 102,865 French adults, found that artificial sweeteners — especially aspartame and acesulfame-K — were associated with increased cancer risk.”

Aspartame has also been linked to obesity, mood disorders and migraines. I can tell you that from personal experience I had bad migraines when I used to chew a lot of sugar free gum with aspartame.

Is aspartame keto friendly?

Technically aspartame is keto friendly because it doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels. However the negative side effects don’t fall in line with a gut friendly or healing diet. You can enjoy zero calorie sweeteners that have less effects.

Can you get aspartame free sugar free jello from the grocery store?

Yes! Luckily you can get keto friendly sugar free jello from the grocery store by choosing a natural brand.

  1. Simply Delish Sugar-Free Gluten-Free Natural Jel Dessert 
  2. GramZero Variety (Raspberry, Strawberry, Cherry, Lemon, Lime, Orange) Sugar Free Gelatin Mix 

Both Simply Delish and GramZero brand sweeten their jello with stevia which is a much better choice.

Acesulfame Potassium in Sugar Free Jello

What is acesulfame?

Acesulfame potassium is an artificial sweetener also known as Ace-K.  It’s similar to aspartame but unlike aspartame, acesulfame is stable when heated.

Is acesulfame potassium keto friendly?

Acesulfame potassium is keto friendly because it has a glycemic index of zero. This means that consuming acesulfame potassium won’t kick you out of ketosis. But consuming acesulfame may cause other symptoms that are harmful to your health.

Symptoms associated with eating acesulfame potassium

The FDA approves of Ace-K for use in food and is considered to be generally safe for consumption. But studies that contradict the FDA findings show that Ace-K can lead to obesity, changes in the gut microbiome and chronic inflammation. For those trying to fix their gut health or have autoimmune diseases associated with chronic inflammation should avoid acesulfame-k.

BHA in Sugar Free Jello

BHA is a preservative found in cosmetics and jello and it’s a known carcinogen. If you want to eat sugar free jello stick to homemade gelatin or a natural one that is sweetened with stevia and doesn’t have preservatives in it.

Is Jello Good for a Low-Carb Diet?

Yes, jello has zero grams of net carbs so it is good for a low carb diet. Of course I think that you should eat clean sources of jello so that you can avoid health problems associated with a lot of the hazardous ingredients in regular sugar free jello. There are artificial colors, artificial flavoring, and sweeteners in jello. Remember just because something is low in calories doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you.

How many carbs are in Jell-O?

Sugar free jello has zero carbs. So while sugar free jello can take you out of ketosis, if you are simply on a low carb diet the the good news is that jello is a low carb food.

Will Sugar Free Jell-O kick you out of ketosis?

The bad news is that eating sugar free jello will kick you out of ketosis. Since most sugar free jello contains maltodextrin. Maltodextrin has a glycemic index higher than natural sugar so eating anything with it will spike your blood sugar levels quickly. You can eat a natural sugar free gelatin desert without getting kicked out of ketosis.

Healthier Alternatives to Sugar Free Jello

If you still want to eat jello on a low-carb diet you have two options. You can buy a package of healthier sugar free jello or you can make it yourself at home. After reviewing 30 brands of sugar free jello I’ve discovered that Simply Delish and Gram Zero make the best sugar free jello.

Vegan Keto Jello Recipe

You can also make healthy sugar free jello at home with agar agar and a few other simple ingredients. I love this recipe because it only uses healthy foods as ingredients. Agar agar is a healthy plant based substitute for gelatin derived from seaweed. To make healthy keto jello at home simply combine the following ingredients:

Ingredients for Clean Sugar Free Jello

  1. 1 cup of unsweetened juice
  2. 1 cup of hot water
  3. 3 tbsp agar agar powder or flakes
  4. 1/2 tsp stevia or monk fruit

How to Make Keto Friendly Sugar Free Jello At Home (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Combine the juice, water, agar agar powder and monk fruit into a sauce pan. Heat up the liquid until the agar agar powder dissolves. Pour the jello mixture into a jello mold and allow it to cool in the fridge for two hours. Now you have clean sugar free jello that will satisfy your sweet tooth while you are on a ketogenic diet.

The best part about this basic recipe is that it works with any kind of juice. So you can make your favorite flavors.

Keto Jello Pro Tips

  • You can use any kind of juice or water. The important thing is that you maintain the ratio of 2 cups of liquid to 3 tablespoons of agar agar.
  • If you have a keto sweetener that you like, feel free to use it in this recipe. Add as much sweetener as you like. Taste the jello mixture as you add sweetener so that you can figure out exactly how sweet you want your jello to be. If you are trying to reduce all sweeteners then your jello will have a tart flavor.

Health Benefits of Agar Agar

Agar Agar is a blessing because it has so many health benefits and yet it replaces gelatin perfectly. This miracle seaweed is good for constipation and weight loss. The best health benefits include that it’s good for bone health and high in iron. Many vegans and non vegans a like suffer from low iron. Including gelled deserts made with agar agar will help raise your iron levels and protect your bones.

bowl of agar agar with a spoon in it

All women need to be conscious of their bone health. Foods containing calcium from milk will actually weaken the bones. The best place to get your calcium and additional minerals to maintain bone health are from vegan sources like greens, legumes and agar agar!

It blows my mind that most people have never heard of agar agar. It’s such a healthy vegan alternative that’s easy to use and has many culinary uses.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Is sugar free Jell-O pudding keto friendly?

Jell-O sugar free pudding mix is not keto friendly because despite being sugar free it is high in carbohydrates.

Is Hartley’s sugar free jello keto friendly?

Hartley’s sugar free jello is slightly more keto friendly than other brands because it doesn’t have maltodextrin which raises blood sugar levels. Hartley’s is sweetened with aspartame and ace-k which don’t raise blood sugar levels so it won’t pull you out of ketosis. However aspartame does raise some people’s blood sugar even though it has a glycemic index of zero.

The chemical sweeteners in Hartley’s sugar free jello make it bad for keto because of its associated risk for stomach symptoms and cancer risk. Even if a food doesn’t have carbs it doesn’t mean that it is keto friendly.

Is regular jello keto friendly?

No regular jello is not keto friendly because it has a combination of chemicals and sweeteners. The sweetener in regular jello will pull you out of ketosis. One half cup of regular jello has 19 grams of carbs. Most keto diets require that you consume under 50 grams of carbs per day. So one little serving of jello will blow your carb count and won’t leave you any more satiated than you were before you ate it.

Is Sugar Free Jello Good For Diabetics?

Diabetics need to watch out for sugar free jello. When I was a kid I remember my grandparents eating tons of sugar free jello to curb their sweet tooth. Even now my in-laws and grandparents eat sugar free jello in an attempt to keep their blood sugar down. The truth is that sugar free jello can spike your blood sugar levels even though it’s sugar free.

Why you might ask? Sugar free jello has an ingredient in it called maltodextrin. Even though maltodextrin is sugar free it has a glycemic index of 100 or more while normal sugar has a GI of 65. Maltodextrin will raise your blood sugar levels much higher and faster than sugar can. So eating sugar free jello could cause sugar to get released into your urine causing kidney damage.

If you are diabetic and still want to eat sugar free jello there are a few things you can do:

  1. Buy clean sugar free jello from GramZero or Simply Delish.
  2. Make Homemade Sugar Free Jello with Agar Agar.
  3. Buy Sugar Free Jello that does not have maltodextrin in it.

Key Takeaways

  • Sugar Free Jello is not keto friendly if it has maltodextrin in it which will raise blood sugar levels.
  • Regular sugar free jello is bad for your health so opt for clean brands of sugar free jello that are sweetened with stevia or monk fruit.
  • You can easily make clean sugar free jello at home.
  • Jello has zero net carbs so it’s good for a low carb diet.
  • Clean sugar free jello is a healthy food you can eat on a ketogenic diet.

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