All posts by Brad Will

Store Re-Opening – All Locations

As economies across Canada begin to reopen, we are excited to announce that we have gradually resumed operations at our retail stores with the implementation of new safety measures.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we temporarily closed our retail stores for the safety of our staff, valued customers and community. During this temporary closure period, online ordering continued to be available to our customers.

We have now focused our efforts to implement a strategic approach in re-opening our stores and providing service updates to help keep our community healthy. Here are some important updates we would like to share regarding your next visit to one of our retail stores:


Markham, ON

The Markham store re-opened on June 6, 2020, with regular store hours:

Monday – Saturday: 10:00am – 6:00pm

Sunday: 12:00pm – 5:00pm

An in-store pickup option is available by placing your order online. Wait for the Pickup/Ready notification email (expect 1-2 business days) before picking up.


Newmarket, ON

The Newmarket store reopened on June 9, 2020, with the following modified store hours:

Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00am – 6:00pm

Sunday – Monday: Closed

An in-store pickup option is available by placing your order online. Wait for the Pickup/Ready notification (expect 1-2 business days) before picking up.


Burnaby, BC

The Burnaby store re-opened on June 12, 2020, with the following store hours:

Monday – Saturday: 10:00am – 5:00pm

Sunday: 12:00pm – 5:00pm

An in-store pickup option is available by placing your order online. Wait for the Pickup/Ready notification (expect 1-2 business days) before picking up.


New In-Store Safety Measures

The Low Carb Grocery has implemented new safety measures along with the re-opening to protect the health and safety of our staff and customers. Here is what you can expect during your next in-store visit:

  • Customers MUST wear a face mask covering the mouth and nose to enter the store.
  • Limit 1 person per household to enter the store.
  • Customers are asked to sanitize their hands upon entering the store (hand sanitizer is provided).
  • We will be limiting the number of customers in the stores at one time, as per Provincial guidelines.
  • Customers are asked to practice physical distancing by maintaining a minimum of 6ft from each other.
  • Customers are asked to follow the 6ft markers at the checkout line.
  • Customers are asked to NOT bring reusable grocery bags. Grocery bags are provided by stores.
  • A contactless method of payment is preferred.

Prior to re-opening, each store location was completely sanitized, and now our staff will maintain these strict cleaning practices moving forward. After every use, staff will disinfect the counters, payment terminals and shopping baskets & carts. Plexiglass sneeze guards have also been installed at checkout counters. Staff assisting customers will be required to wear a face mask or face shield and practice physical distancing. Washrooms will be closed to the public.

As always, we remain at your service to answer any questions you may have during these uncertain times. Please consider viewing our FAQ page for the most frequent updates. We thank you for your efforts in helping us keep our community healthy and we look forward to reconnecting with you soon.

How to Not Get Bored on Keto Diets

Tips and Tricks for Maintaining a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet – Without Getting Bored!

As you start the transition into ketosis, you may be thinking of all the exciting foods that you are no longer allowed to eat. This can feel limiting, especially if you are used to a high carb, low-fat diet and are just beginning to make the switch. Or perhaps you have been doing keto for a long time, and are seeing results, but you’re starting to get bored with the same foods day-in, day-out.

Shift your mindset and view your new diet as an opportunity to get creative! Strict diets, such as the ketogenic or low carb diets, tend to have certain foods commonly associated with them. You’ve probably heard that you can load up on butter, bacon, steak and cheese, but even these can become boring over time if that’s all you’re eating. Remember that your diet can evolve and improve over time, especially with trial and error. You have to find what works best for you and your body, as it will not be the same for everyone.

So, if you are currently having trouble maintaining your keto diet, try some of these suggestions below to elevate your plate!

  1. Find keto-friendly snacks to change your daily intake.

Keto-friendly snacks are a great way to give yourself some variety and choice in your diet.

The Low Carb Grocery carries a number of keto-friendly snacks. Here are some of our favourites:

Just be sure to keep track of your macronutrients throughout the day, including snacks, so you don’t accidentally fall out of ketosis.

 

  1. Find new recipes and cookbooks online.

Pinterest is a great source of inspiration, and keto cookbooks are becoming more mainstream and easier to find. Internet recipes are probably the easiest way to get new ideas; search for recipes that include items you already have lying around. If you have a hard time coming up with new recipes, take it from others who have been in your shoes before!

Challenge yourself and have fun in the kitchen. You never know, trying out recipes might just become your new hobby. You can learn a lot about your body, develop new skills, and greatly expand your palette along the way!

  1. Use herbs and spices to transform any meal in a number of ways.

You might not always take a walk down the herb and spice aisle on your weekly trips to the grocery store, but take a look next time you’re there and find some inspiration for your next dish! Herbs and spices not only make your meals more interesting, but they can add a number of nutritional benefits as well. For example, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels and help metabolize carbs, sage can improve neural function, turmeric is anti-inflammatory (don’t forget to activate it with black pepper!), and basil can help your body deal with stress.

Along the same lines, try adding different sauces and salad dressings to your meats and salads – the flavour possibilities are endless!

  1. Swap out your favourite high-carb ingredients for low-carb alternatives.

You have probably prepared yourself to say good riddance to all the sugar, flour, and other high carb baking ingredients that you used to enjoy before you started the keto diet. But these foods don’t have to be completely lost – recipes can easily be modified to reduce the net carb count while still producing yummy and satisfying treats!

Sweeteners – there are a number of great sweeteners for baking on the market that have been designed to mimic traditional sugar. Although the taste may not be exactly the same, it can be fun to get creative experimenting with new things in the kitchen. Perhaps you’ll come up with your own recipe for the best low carb cookies! You can also learn about all the different sugar substitutes that we carry in our “Know Your Sugar Substitutes” blog here.

Flours – coconut flour and almond flour are probably your best bets for baking on the keto diet. Both of these flours add a tasty, unique flavour to your creations, and can even be incorporated in soups and other dishes as a thickening agent. Get creative with the items in your pantry!

 

  1. Eat foods that are in season.

Eating foods that are in season means that you will get the best produce for that time of year. Seasonal foods will change every few months, allowing you to continually test out new recipes. Plus, foods that are in-season tend to have better prices. You might also try something you’ve never tried before!

This will mainly apply to fruits and vegetables – which are very important to include in a keto diet. Your body needs essential vitamins and minerals found in fresh produce in order to carry out important functions, and their high fibre content will keep you feeling full longer. Fruits can be trickier to incorporate successfully into a keto diet, but here’s a list of low carb vegetables that are available by season:

Winter – think warm, comforting recipes.

  • Brussels sprouts (3.5g net carbs per ½ cup)
  • Broccoli (4g net carbs per cup)
  • Cauliflower (3g net carbs per cup)
  • Spaghetti Squash (5.5g net carbs per cup)
  • Kale (0.3g net carbs per cup)

Spring – think fresh and Asian-inspired dishes.

  • Radishes (0.5g net carbs per 6 radishes)
  • Spinach (0.4 net carbs per cup)
  • Bok Choy (0.8 net carbs per cup)
  • Asparagus (2g net carbs per 6 stalks)
  • Artichokes (4 net carbs per medium-sized artichoke)

Summer – think Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

  • Zucchini (3 net carbs per cup)
  • Bell Peppers (3g net carbs per ½ cup)
  • Cucumbers (3g net carbs per cup)
  • Eggplant (3g net carbs per ½ cup)
  • Okra (2g net carbs per ½ cup)

Autumn – think holiday-inspired recipes.

  • Fennel (4g net carbs per cup)
  • Red Cabbage (2.5g net carbs per cup)
  • Arugula (0.5g net carbs per cup)
  • Mushrooms (1.5g net carbs per cup)
  • Pumpkin (4.5g net carbs per ½ cup)
  1. Rotate your recipes

We are all creatures of habit, so it can be easy to fall into a meal routine. Try to avoid having the same meal every Tuesday night to keep your brain and your belly stimulated.

  1. Embrace leftovers.

Not only can leftovers reduce cooking times the next day, but there are many ways to repurpose them by cutting, cooking and seasoning them differently. You can turn last night’s chicken or beef dinner into a casserole, soup, shepherd’s pie or breakfast hash the next day. You can also cook extra veggies to add them to future meals. Don’t just eat the same things over and over again – get creative and try to transform your leftovers into a brand-new dish!

  1. Drizzle healthy oils over your meals.

The best part about the keto diet is that fat helps flavour your foods, and you are free to add it to any and every meal! Fats themselves don’t usually carry intense flavours, but they can enhance the smell and texture of your foods, which satisfies our senses. Fats dissolve and concentrate the flavour- and odour-producing chemicals in foods, which can enhance taste and smell. Fats also feel smooth and melty in our mouths, which most people would agree is a pleasant sensation (think of the sensations you experience when you eat chocolate or nut butter). Finally, fats can also help distribute the seasonings on your food, making sure each bite is equally delicious!

Try experimenting with different oils for slightly different results; there are a number of healthy options:

To learn all the ins and outs of fats, try reading our “Good vs. Bad Fats: Know The Difference” blog here.

  1. Treat yourself to eating out once in a while.

Whether this is a “cheat meal” or not, eating out is a great way to reduce boredom and help you feel less restricted by your diet. Most restaurants will have a keto-friendly option on the menu, or you can ask for substitutions to make your meal lower carb (i.e. ask for more veggies or avocado instead of the carb portion).

Sometimes you can become bored or frustrated with a new diet simply because you need a rest from cooking your own meals. By treating yourself occasionally, not only can you give yourself a break, but you can also get recipe inspiration from the restaurants you visit.

  1. Diet with a friend or a spouse!

Getting a friend or spouse to join you in starting a new diet can help with motivation and you can tackle and enjoy new recipes together!

Some great recipes to test out and share with others could include:

If you’ve discovered any new keto-friendly recipes and foods recently, we’d love to know! Leave a comment on our Facebook page under this blog post to share what you’ve been loving. Also, check out our Instagram and stay connected with our Weekly Newsletters to get updates on the latest products and special sales. And lastly, if you’ve had any direct experience with The Low Carb Grocery, excellent or poor, please leave us a Google review here!

Good vs. Bad Fats: Know The Difference

Breaking down the difference between good and bad fats.

Fat: What is it?

Fat is one of three macronutrients that your body needs on a daily basis in order to function. These are fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Good fats help the body absorb nutrients from fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K. They also keep the skin healthy and are the main way the body stores energy. On the flip side, consuming bad fats increases cholesterol levels and creates inflammation which can result in a number of chronic diseases.

All fat molecules are made from fatty acids and glycerol. Most fats are triglycerides (glycerol and three fatty acids), but despite similar chemical structures, they do not all behave the same. Some fats are solid at room temperature and some are liquid. This gives some indication of their smoke point and stability (i.e. how quickly they break down when you cook with them). Some fats will last a long time in your pantry, while others will go rancid quickly. Oils that have gone rancid can lose their nutritional properties,

It can be confusing to learn all the differences, but we’re here to breakdown the good and the bad – especially if you are on a fat-based diet!

The Different Types Of Fats

The amount of fat we eat doesn’t impact our weight, cholesterol, or risk of heart disease nearly as much as what kind of fat we eat. That is why it is important to know the types of fats you are consuming to spot the differences between good (healthy) fats and bad (unhealthy) fats. It is also important to point out that foods advertised as “low fat” or “no fat” have probably undergone some kind of refining process that actually puts them in the “bad” category; avoid these foods.

There are three major types: unsaturated fats, saturated fats and trans fats.

Unsaturated Fats (Good)

Unsaturated fats get the green light go ahead! Consuming unsaturated fats can reduce the risk of high blood cholesterol levels. They are usually liquid at room temperature, unlike saturated fats which tend to be solid.

Healthy unsaturated fats come in two main forms: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.

Polyunsaturated Fats (Good)

There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6. You have probably heard of these fats and have probably been encouraged to eat more of them, especially omega-3s as these can help lower inflammation and promote cognitive and cardiovascular health. These two fats act differently in the body, and you need both. However, the balance is key. Experts recommend a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the diet of 4:1 or less. The reality is that most of our foods are higher in omega-6s (Western diets have a ratio between 10:1 and 50:1!), so it is important to consume more foods rich in omega-3s such as those listed below.

Plant sources of omega-3:

Marine sources of omega-3:

  • Coldwater fish such as mackerel, salmon, seabass, oysters, shrimp and trout
  • Fish and krill oil supplements
  • Cod liver oil
  • Algae oil

Plant sources of omega-3 contain ALA (antioxidant, lowers blood sugar levels, reduces inflammation, slows skin aging, improves nerve function), while marine sources contain DHA and EPA (reduce inflammation and risk of chronic disease). We need all of these compounds in our bodies, and one type alone is not a supplement for the other.

Omega-6 also occurs in a lot of foods that also contain omega-3s such as nuts and seeds, avocado, eggs, and tofu. However, you will also find high levels of omega-6s in processed foods, meats and cheeses. If you’re on a fat-based diet like keto, some sources will recommend you to load up on bacon, steak, hamburgers, cheeses, and other lower-quality fats, but with these foods, your omega-6 levels will go through the roof! Stick to consuming both plant and marine sources of omega-3s as these will already contain the amounts of omega-6s you need.

Monounsaturated Fats (Good)

Monounsaturated fats can improve the function of blood vessels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Some research also shows that they can help control insulin and blood sugar levels, which can help you manage type 2 diabetes.

Some examples of foods rich in monounsaturated fats are:

They key is to consume polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats instead of lower quality fats, not in addition to them. Below is a look at some of the bad fats out there. The good thing is that these are easy to spot since they are listed on ever nutrition facts table. Make sure you read these before buying the product!

Saturated Fat (Good and Bad)

Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. There is some confusion around whether these are good or bad for you. We can begin to get an idea of this by looking at the types of foods that are high in saturated fat:

Saturated fats were deemed “bad” in the 20th century when there was a major epidemic of heart disease in America. This is not surprising if you think about the typical American diet at the time, which included a lot of meat and dairy. As you may recall, these foods are high in omega-6s as we discovered above. An imbalance of omega-6s can result in inflammation linked to cardiovascular disease. So, if we take another look at the list above and remove the items that are high in omega-6s, we are left with “good” saturated fats, such as coconut oil and dark chocolate.

Trans Fat (Bad. Very Bad!)

Trans fat is bad, period. Whenever you see this on a nutrition table, Avoid at all costs. We could stop there, but we’ll delve a little deeper.

Trans fats don’t go rancid and they are relatively stable, so they are perfect for things like deep frying. This is because most of them are man-made (there is no deep-fried food found in nature, sorry). Industrial processes add hydrogen molecules to vegetable oil to make it less likely to spoil, thus increasing shelf life and decreasing the amount of times it has to be changed when used for frying. How convenient.

The problem is trans fats are terrible for your health – worse than saturated fats. When you consume trans fat, it raises your “bad” cholesterol and lowers your “good” cholesterol. This imbalance can increase your risk of heart disease, the number one leading causes of deaths in North America.

Look for the words “non-hydrogenated” on your labels to ensure that you are not buying trans fats. If you see “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils on an ingredient list, that food contains trans fats. Some vegetable oils, like canola oil, can be hydrogenated meaning that it is in its bad form, while non-hydrogenated canola oil is a healthy unsaturated type of fat.

Let’s make this easy.

At The Low Carb Grocery, we carry a wide variety of foods with healthy fats for different uses:

Peanut Butter and Jam High Performance Peanut Butter Crunchy Salted CaramelAvocado Crisps Guacamole Flavour

Do you agree with our lists?

This is our breakdown of the battle between good fats and bad fats. In the simplest terms, look for unprocessed foods with whole, plant-based ingredients (where possible) and always check nutrition facts for trans fats and high levels of saturated fats that could be coming from low quality sources.

If you’re on a fat-based diet, it’s especially important to only consume healthy fats to avoid having low energy levels, lower your risk of chronic diseases and even boost your mood. If you’re eating a lot of meat and dairy, or other foods with high levels of omega-6 fats, be sure to balance your out diet with plenty of omega-3s (click here for Amazon Omega-3 supplements).

Do you agree with our list? Did we miss anything? Share your fat knowledge, diets, and experiences by letting us know in-store or on Facebook or Instagram.

Top 5 – Mistakes to Avoid in the Keto Diet

Avoid these popular mistakes for best keto results

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb eating plan. Eating more fats and very few carbs puts your body into ketosis, a metabolic state where your body burns fat instead of carbs for fuel, which leads to rapid weight loss. The macronutrient formula will vary for everyone, and we recommend seeking advice from a professional for your formula. In general, it revolves around a diet that consists of 75% fats, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.

This article will help you stay in keto to reach your goals faster and help you avoid unnecessary speedbumps along the way. And, if you quit the keto diet and can’t put a finger on the reason why these tips might encourage you to try again or at the very least fulfill your curiosity.

Without further ado, here are the Top 5 keto-diet mistakes and how to avoid them.


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Eating the Wrong Fats for Too Long (Omega-3 vs Omega-6)

The keto diet is simple but not easy, and sometimes when we go on the keto diet, we don’t fully understand what we’re doing. Some credible sources will recommend you load up on bacon, steak, hamburgers, cheeses, and other delicious high-fat foods. But, with these foods, our Omega-6 balance goes through the roof.

In the beginning, you might not notice a problem, but once it’s a routine of 30, 60, or even 90 days, it can become a problem. At this point, we would have too many Omega-6 fats in our body and they will start to supersede the Omega-3 fats. It’s important to note that Omega-6 fats are not bad, but it becomes an issue when there’s too much of them.

Generally speaking, the most common Omega-6 is linoleic acid. Linoleic acid converts into arachidonic acid and arachidonic acid creates eicosanoids, which are pro-inflammatory. To simplify, Omega-6 triggers inflammation, and that’s good when it needs to be triggered, but if we have too much, it triggers inflammation all the time. That’s why some people refer to Omega-3s as anti-inflammatory because they counteract Omega-6.

This tip can be confusing, but we’re here make things simpler. To summarize, if you’re having a lot of meat and poultry, or other fats with plenty of Omega-6 fats, be sure to balance your diet with Omega-3 because it won’t come naturally in all foods. Eating too many options strong in Omega-6 could contribute to inflammation and even spark some depression. If this is you, try at least 5 or 6 grams of Omega-3 supplements per day. This tip will help you balance your mind and body on the keto diet.


Lack of Energy – Not Personalizing to You

A lack of energy on the keto diet can be a little controversial because professionals will claim that when your body is in ketosis, your liver creates ketones and places them in your bloodstream. These ketones are a super fuel created from fat, and you will likely notice increased energy in your body. However, there are instances that people quit the ketogenic diet because they just don’t have any energy.

The ketogenic diet is very efficient but also very sensitive. Some people who notice a lack of energy on the keto diet might try increasing their fat intake to bring in more ketones, and in theory that makes sense, but don’t forget that food, in general, is energy, and fats aren’t the easiest thing for our bodies to digest. If increased fat intake is not working for your energy levels, we recommend bringing in more protein. Keep in mind, protein doesn’t have to be animal products, you can have plant-based proteins like chickpeas and tofu.

If you exercise heavily on the keto diet, chances are you need more protein because your muscle recovery isn’t getting the proper glycogen resynthesis that it used to get. Glycogen resynthesis is the scientific term of recovery and restoration to your muscles after prolonged exercise. If you’re experiencing a lack of energy on the keto diet, there’s no reason to think that excess protein will kick you out of ketosis because the protein will only do what it needs to do to heal your body. It’s a demand-driven process.


Holding Yourself Back from Social Gatherings

The keto diet is your journey, and if the restaurant on Friday night has keto options, that’s great, and if it doesn’t, eat a little before. If the Saturday backyard party is providing carb-loaded subs, then bring a prepared meal, and so on. It may not show on the surface, but the people around you are proud that you’re working on a goal and there’s no reason to be ashamed of that!

There will be times on the keto diet that challenge your reasonings. But, don’t let it reflect on your social gatherings, or anywhere for that matter. If you’re unsure about the foods served at events, pack your own. Good friends, family, and colleagues will support your drive for a better you, and in some great occasions, they may speak with you in advance to provide meal options, especially if they have a quick and easy fix!

Another point to mention is that the keto police don’t exist. You’re not going to keto jail if you fall off for a few days. You can take a trip with your friends to Vegas, or with your family to the Caribbean. For the most strict dieters, there are solutions to stay on keto. If you’re an advanced low-carber, you can do a 20 hour fast, so you have the flexibility for carb intake and still stay in keto. If you’re a beginner, it’s not the end of the world to get off the diet for a couple of days. You can give yourself a mental break and continue back when you’re ready. There is still plenty of room for your success on this journey, so don’t hold yourself back.


Lack of Carbs

There’s a myth that you don’t need carbohydrates to survive, and the focus of the keto diet is to lower your carb intake, but is it possible to go too low? The truth is that you don’t need to eat carbohydrates to survive, and that’s because your body will always find a way to create carbohydrates.

Your body will always have a demand for carbohydrates, even though it’s just a small amount (10-15%). So how does your body create carbohydrates if you’re not eating them? The answer is found in a series of complicated science terms, like gluconeogenesis, but in its most simple form, your body will create carbs from the extra consumed protein or even from your muscle tissue.

If you’re eating too few carbs, there can be an effect in where tryptophan isn’t getting to your brain. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that turns to serotonin, which provides an uplifting boost in your mood. And, tryptophan travels to your brain through the breakdown of carbs in your body.

The problem with eating too few carbs is that there is a possibility to start feeling depressed. To avoid this feeling, you can incorporate foods with high serotonin, like eggs, pineapple, tofu, salmon, nuts and seeds, and turkey. But it might be a better idea to include MCT oil into your diet because it can directly boost tryptophan levels in the brain, leaving you with only the good benefits of keto.


Boredom

It’s a stretch to call boredom a mistake, but if you’re falling off the keto diet because you’re getting tired of the same meals over again just remind yourself this problem is not a direct cause of the keto diet because it’s possible to get tired from other variations of foods.

The solution here is to try self-experimentation. Try vegan keto, try intermittent fasting experiments, try the keto diet with only meat, or pescatarian-style, or Mediterranean-style keto. The idea is to have fun with it, just like any other diet! Click here to see our collection of low-carb recipes.


What do you think?

This is our breakdown of the most popular keto diet mistakes and how to avoid them. In summary, Omega-3 supplements are an essential tool to include in your journey to help balance your Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats. Personalizing keto to you is so important to keep your energy levels healthy, especially to attend your favourite social gatherings with work and friends. And keep an open mind to try new products like MCT oil to keep your brain happy and healthy when you’re craving those carbs!

We can help you avoid as many mistakes as possible, but it’s important to remind yourself why you’re on keto because not understanding the reason you’re doing it, your “why” can be the biggest reason to fail. And remember, your body is the ultimate truth teller… listen to it and there’s a good chance you’ll never want to go back to the bad foods you were eating before!

Do you agree with our list? Did we miss anything? Share your keto diet experiences by letting us know in-store or on Facebook or Instagram.


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Know Your – Sugar Substitutes

Natural and artificial sugar substitutes – Good or Bad?

If you’re here, it’s probably because you either want to kick sugar from your diet, or you have kicked sugar from your diet and want to know more about the sugar substitutes in your food. It can be overwhelming to hear words like Xylitol and Erythritol, but we’re here to simplify the differences so you know what’s right for you!

In this article, we’re breaking down the top 5 popular sugar replacements, what foods they’re in, a touch of science behind them, how your body may respond, and where to get started. In this day and age, we have so many different artificial and natural sweeteners, and it can be really hard to tell how your body will respond. Some of these sweeteners may sound frightening, but remember, we’re here for the healthy alternatives! Without further ado, here are your top 5 sugar substitutes and how they work.


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Monk Fruit

The Monk Fruit, also known as lo han guo, is a small sweet melon native to Southeast Asia. It has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes and has now made its way into Western markets as a zero-calorie sugar substitute.

Monk fruit extract alone is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, so it is often combined with other common approved ingredients, such as erythritol, to make it suitable for use in food and beverages. Monk fruit sweeteners are also stable at high temperatures, making them perfect for use in baked goods. However, foods made with monk fruit sweeteners may have some slight differences in appearance, texture and taste than foods made with sugar. There are no known negative side effects of monk fruit.

Replacing sugar with monk fruit can help people with diabetes and/or people who are avoiding sugar to find good foods and take a step in the right direction towards weight loss goals. One thing to be sure of when consuming low-calorie substitutes to reduce overall caloric intake is to avoid additional caloric compensation from other foods. At The Low Carb Grocery, we carry these granular monk fruit sweeteners and these monk fruit foods & drops.

Stevia

When you’re watching your blood sugar levels, there’s a chance you’ve tried stevia, or at least you’ve heard of it. Stevia is a miraculous plant, but there are some things we have to consider with it, and some of its newer research. There are a lot of benefits with stevia, but we have to address a couple of cons too.

Stevia gets the green checkmark, right out the gate, so don’t worry about any big curveballs. However, Stevia might produce a little bit of insulin. It’s not anything super significant, but it’s still something to be cognizant of with the research that’s available right now.

One of the great benefits of stevia is that it does increase sodium excretion. Sodium excretion is the process of eliminating or expelling waste matter in your cells. So, if you’re feeling puffy, or if you’re holding a lot of water, a little bit of stevia can encourage the kidneys to expel sodium causing you to drop that extra water weight. Stevia has some powerful effects! At The Low Carb Grocery, we carry these granular stevia sweeteners and these stevia foods, candies, chocolates & drops.

Xylitol

Despite probably the most difficult name on this list, Xylitol may be one of the simpler sweeteners to breakdown. However, before we break down its benefits for humans – we must address that xylitol is fatal in dogs (like chocolate). If you buy anything xylitol, it’s okay for you and children, but be sure to keep it on a top shelf or locked in a cabinet in your kitchen so your dog doesn’t get to it!

A really good source of xylitol will come from birch bark. When you’re shopping for this sweetener, you want to make sure that it’s organic and non-GMO. There’s no aftertaste with Xylitol, which is a great benefit, and it tastes very similar to sugar. Xylitol can also be found in nasal sprays because it helps bacteria break from the wall of your mucous membranes, which clears out microbes (bacteria).

Another large benefit of Xylitol is that it can reduce tooth decay. Its glycemic index is around 7, which means Xylitol can affect blood sugars, but only in great quantities around 65g or more. It can be purchased at The Low Carb Grocery in these Xylitol granular sweeteners and Xylitol chewing gum.

Erythritol

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, meaning that it won’t count towards net carbs – if you’re counting. Sugar alcohols are commonly confused with artificial sweeteners; however, they are not the same. Artificial sweeteners can have several health risks and also leave a bad aftertaste. In comparison, sugar alcohols are much safer.

Sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol. They are not absorbed by the body like other carbohydrates and they will not contribute to weight gain. Common side effects of consuming a large amount of sugar alcohol (more than 18g) may include bloating, gas and possible laxative effects. However, erythritol is often better tolerated than other sugar alcohols.

Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as table sugar and produces a slight “cooling” effect, similar to the effects of mint flavours. This occurs through an endothermic reaction, in which erythritol essentially absorbs the heat from your mouth.

Erythritol is made by fermenting natural sugars found in certain fruits and vegetables. Corn is commonly used; however, watermelon, pears and soy sauce also contain the same natural sugars.

Erythritol is specifically designed to replace sugar and bakes in a way that is almost identical to sugar. However, erythritol may be used in combination with other ingredients due to its sugar-like properties, so it is always best to check the ingredients list for any harmful artificial sweeteners.

Inulin

Inulin is a soluble, prebiotic fibre that is found in many fruits, vegetables and herbs, as well as in manufactured forms. Although it is not digested or absorbed in the stomach, consuming inulin can provide many health benefits. Some common sources of inulin are in asparagus, garlic, onions, and chicory root.

When consumed, inulin travels to the bowels where good bacteria use it as a food source to grow. These bacteria help convert the inulin into short-chain fatty acids, which provide various health benefits and can also aid in weight loss. Short-chain fatty acids are the main source of nutrients for your colon cells and are also involved in the metabolism of carbs and fat. High-performance (HP) inulin may also provide benefits for those with diabetes and prediabetes by reducing blood sugar levels.

Note that inulin is a “fructan,” meaning that its chemical structure is made of fructose molecules that are linked together in a way that cannot be digested. We are hesitant when we see “fructose” on an ingredient list, but if you see the term “oligofructose” on a label, this simply indicates a manufactured form of inulin. At high doses (more than 30g) some may experience side effects of inulin including bloating, gas, laxative effects, constipation and cramps.

Bonus 3: Sucralose, Isomalt & Maltitol

Sucralose, also known as Splenda, is one of the most common sweeteners to use on a keto diet. There is some controversy with sucralose because it’s an artificial sweetener and is kind of in a grey area, so we have to break some things down a little bit.

Sucralose is not as simple as it seems because if you get a packet of sucralose or a packet of Splenda, it usually has maltodextrin added to it. The maltodextrin can trigger an insulin response, therefore if you’re commonly using sucralose via the small packets, then you’re probably triggering an insulin response and kicking yourself out of keto and potentially harmful for diabetics. Sucralose in packets should be avoided.

If you buy sucralose that’s in a product; be aware that it isn’t that good for you, but it shouldn’t kick you out of keto if it doesn’t have the maltodextrin attached to it. The main point to mention with sucralose is to just be careful with it.

Isomalt and maltitol are commonly found in diabetic candies and sometimes in no-sugar-added chocolates. You could go as far as saying isomalt and maltitol are keto- and diabetic-friendly, but these sweeteners are a little disreputable because these sugar alcohols can trigger an insulin response. You don’t need to avoid them entirely, although they may make you feel a little bloated and trigger possible laxative effects, but it’s usually printed on the candy’s packaging.


What do you think?

This is our breakdown of the most popular sugar substitutes. Monk fruit can help diabetics find good foods and be a step in the right direction towards your weight loss goals. Stevia gets the green checkmark and can encourage your kidneys to expel sodium to drop some extra water weight. A good source of Xylitol comes from birch bark and can commonly be found in nasal sprays to remove bad bacteria. Erythritol is well known for its cooling effect, like mint, and is commonly found in combination with other sweeteners to make the perfect cup for cup measure with sugar. Inulin provides various health benefits and can also aid in weight loss. And the bonus substitutes, sucralose, maltitol, and isomalt, are technically keto- and diabetic-friendly, but you should steer clear or at least be careful with these when possible.

Shop all our sugar substitutes here and try the few that best match your needs! Do you agree with our list? Did we miss anything? Share your sugar substitute choices and experiences by letting us know in-store or on Facebook or Instagram.


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Know Your – Health Bars (Protein vs. Fat vs. Energy)

Understanding the 3 Primary Bar Types: Protein, Fat and Energy Bars

Do you ever find yourself spending valuable time looking at the back of on-the-go health bars just to go back and forth with the options in your hand? Maybe you prefer to ask the staff? This article is put together to debunk the major differences of the top 3 bar types: protein bars, fat bars, and energy bars – and help you make the right choice!

And the best part, you can learn about these bars in the comfort of your home and order the bars you love online at The Low Carb Grocery.


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  1. Protein Bars

It may seem obvious, but when you’re on the hunt for a protein bar, the main purpose should be to consume protein. The benefit of protein is to rebuild torn muscle tissue. This type of bar goes hand-in-hand with the growing trends of health and fitness. However, depending on your needs, some bars are more well balanced… let’s break it down.

When you’re in the grocery, you may be asking yourself, “which is the best protein bar?” and that’s one of our most common questions. There are 2 ways to help find the bar that’s right for you.

1) Do a macro breakdown. Take a glance at the calories, total fat, total carbs, fibres, sweeteners, and protein. You want the bar to be less than 200 calories, sit around 7g of fat, and vary around 20g of protein.

2) Determine your carbohydrate needs. If you follow a low-carb program, like the keto diet, or perhaps you’re diabetic, your carbohydrate intake should be very little and your sweeteners should pan towards erythritol, maltitol, sucralose, and/or stevia – these sweeteners won’t spike your blood sugar levels. Your bars should aim at 5g net carbs or less.

3) Bonus. If you don’t follow a low-carb diet, common ingredients like dates and sweetened chocolate will add to the total sugar. As a result of a rise in total carbohydrates, your bars might sit around 20g net carbs.

On our list, we include Quest Protein Bars and Grenade Carb Killa Bars because these bars have great macro breakdowns. A Quest Protein Bar has 180 calories, 7g fat, 20g protein, 4g net carbs, and sweetened with Erythritol and a touch of Stevia. The Grenade Carb Killa Bar has 214 calories, 8g fat, 23g protein, 7g net carbs, and sweetened with maltitol.


  1. Fat Bars

Transitioning off sugar or transitioning off carbohydrates can be one of the most difficult challenges when you’re on, or plan to start, a low-carb lifestyle or keto diet, but this is exactly where fat bars come in. If you haven’t tried a fat bar, the first thing you’ll notice is that they taste insanely good, and you’ll feel full for a very long time after.

Fat bars, like Love Good Fats, use a combination of good fats and soluble fibres. When these nutritional values are placed together, with the right formula, they create a ketogenic fat bar. These are not to be mistaken with a protein bar. Fat bars have a strong mission to kick sugar out of your lifestyle and to start looking at fats differently.

Fat is bad. Right? Not necessarily. When the right kinds of fats combine with the right kinds of fibres, we get this process called passive diffusion. Passive diffusion is a process of water going into the small intestine or the colon. If it happens too much it can cause discomfort, but if you match the right amount of passive diffusion from the right amount of soluble fibres and fats, the process will slow digestion. As a result, your body receives every piece of nutrition from the bars and you will feel full for much longer.

On our list, we include Love Good Fats, Stoka Bar, Keto Bars, and Good to Go bars. These bars average around 16-17g fat, 6-8g protein, 3-4g net carbs, and vary between 160 calories to 250 calories. Click on each for more details.


  1. Energy Bars

Gaining in traction, energy bars hold a happy medium between protein bars and fat bars. They don’t have a ton of protein and they don’t have a ton of fat, but they are still low in carbs. Contrary to the name, energy bars don’t possess caffeine and could place in the category of a snack.

You should reach for an energy bar when you’re in between meals, packing a lunch for work or school, or especially if you’re about to reach for comfort food. The advantage and disadvantages of energy bars are the same. By this, energy bars have a variety of choices and their differences they can be great.

On our list, we illustrate the differences between the Power Crunch Energy Bar and the Extend Nutrition Bar. A Power Crunch Bar has 200 calories, 12g fat, 13g protein, 9g net carbs, and sweetened with 5g sugar. An Extend Nutrition Bar has 150 calories, 3g fat, 12g protein,14g net carbs, and sweetened with maltitol. The Extend Nutrition Bar is a great diabetic bar choice.


With so much noise in the options available, we hope this segment helps you find what’s right for you. Protein bars are a great choice when you’re hand-in-hand with health & fitness. Fat bars are the best choice when you’re focused on a low-carb program, like the keto diet. And energy bars should be the first thing you reach for when you want comfort food or preparing a lunch for work or school.

Shop all our protein, energy and fat bars and try something new to you. Do you agree with our list? Did we miss anything? Share your on-the-go health bar choices and experiences by letting us know in-store or on Facebook or Instagram.


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