New snacks on sale now for a limited time! Use code NEW for 15% off.

Your Guide to Sugar and Sugar Alternatives

Sugar is nearly unavoidable – it lines the supermarket shelves, from the confectionery aisles all the way to the health foods aisle. But there is a way to keep this addictive substance out of our diet while still getting a sweet fix.

There are a few reasons why you might want to opt for sugar alternatives and use them in moderation. For starters, research has shown that sugar triggers the reward system in the brain and provokes a stronger reward response than some drugs, including cocaine.

The issue posed by the addictive nature of sugar is that excessive intake can lead to an array of physical and mental illnesses:

  1. Diabetes. 
  2. Obesity.
  3. Fatty liver disease.
  4. Fatigue.
  5. Inflammation.
  6. Anxiety and depression.
  7. Autoimmune diseases.

But this doesn’t mean you have to eradicate sweetness from your diet completely! Here at I Quit Sugar, we believe moderation is key. That’s why we’ll be sharing some of our favourite sugar alternatives and how to use them.

First let’s break down the difference between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. Fruits and some vegetables pack in naturally occurring sugars, while added sugars are those that are added in during the production process. This can be for the purpose of making the food more palatable, preserving shelf-life or even to change the texture of a product.

But too many products have excessively added sugar in, from muesli bars and cereal to fruit juices – it’s commonplace across the globe. This is why we recommend limiting intake and choosing alternatives wisely. Here are the categories of sugar alternatives available:

Nutritive sweeteners.

These include any sugars that contain carbohydrates, meaning they provide the body with energy. Some nutritive sweeteners include maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar and dates.

Non-nutritive sweeteners.

This type of sweetener describes sugar alternatives that are sweet-tasting, but lacking in carbohydrates – and therefore lacking in calories. Some examples include stevia, monk fruit and erythritol.

We know how overwhelming it can be to weigh up the masses of options and wading through contradicting information – so we’ve done the hard yards for you. Have a look at some of the sugar alternatives available and what they can do for you:


Honey is one of the most popular sugar alternatives with uses dating back to ancient Egyptian times, and there happen to be a variety of types from on the market – including those that are more affordable and also those on the more pricey side. From the antibacterial powerhouse of Manuka honey to bush honey varieties, there is a great amount of variance between each type. Some commercially-produced honey found in grocery stores may be pasteurised, so if you’re after a more healthful product, aim for raw varieties. You can add a bit of honey in smoothies or even in stir-fries and salad dressings.   

Our recommendation: Even though some honey varieties pack in substantial health benefits, it’s important to remember you’re still technically consuming sugar when you consume honey. We suggest incorporating this sweetener into your diet in moderation – the occasional teaspoon with your morning oatmeal is a great way to get that hit of sweetness, without the health consequences.

I Quit Sugar rating: 3/5

Coconut sugar.

Coconut sugar comes from the sap of coconut palm, and is known as a type of palm sugar. You’ll find it in most supermarkets and health food stores, usually in granulated form, though a liquid option is on the market too. This alternative is a great way to reduce the likelihood of a blood sugar spike with a glycaemic index of 35, unlike regular table sugar which has an index of 65. Coconut sugar also happens to contain potassium and magnesium

Our recommendation: While coconut sugar boats some nutritional qualities, it’s important to remember it’s still sugar, and as such, our motto of ‘everything in moderation’ applies here.

I Quit Sugar rating: 3/5

Rapadura sugar.

Rapadura sugar is a solidified form of cane sugar. It’s unrefined and has a higher molasses content than white sugar, which is what gives it its trademark brown colour. Compared to white sugar, which goes through more refining, it boasts antioxidants and iron – though you’d have to consume a lot to get any substantial benefits.

Our recommendation: Rapadura sugar may have a lower GI than regular sugar, but it’s still sugar and excessive intake can lead to the same diseases like diabetes and fatty liver disease. As such, we recommend using a small amount – you can use it in the same way as white sugar, for example, in your coffee or in baked goods.

I Quit Sugar rating: 3/5

Muscavado, turbinado, demerara, raw sugar.

These are all known as refined sugars, even raw sugar. You read that right – raw sugar isn’t really raw. These sugars have a higher molasses content, meaning more nutritional benefits, including antioxidants and polyphenols, all of which reduce inflammation and fight free radicals in the body. Muscavado boasts one of the highest antioxidant contents when compared to other sugars, plus it makes for a delicious popcorn topping, along with making for a rich-tasting dressing for your salad.

Our recommendation: These sugars may be hailed as a healthier version of table sugar, but they’re still essentially made from regular sugar. As such, we recommend keeping consumption to a minimum and opting for some of the other alternatives on this list.

I Quit Sugar rating: 1.5/5

Rice malt syrup.

Rice malt syrup is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a syrup made from brown rice. It still contains sugar, specifically glucose. While it has an alarmingly high GI of 98, it’s able to be metabolised by all of the body, meaning it won’t put extra strain on the liver like fructose does. For this reason, rice malt syrup is one of our top choices for sugar alternatives. Fructose cannot be broken down further by the body, meaning it requires the liver to metabolise it, and in excess, the liver is unable to handle it and the consequences are numerous – this includes visceral fat (that which wraps around the organs), and ultimately, obesity and liver disease. Studies show a link between obesity and excessive fructose consumption, which is why we like to keep consumption of this to a minimum – and why rice malt syrup makes for a great option to sweeten up your favourite meals.

Our recommendation: Rice malt syrups have been found to have arsenic content, but this doesn’t mean you need to leave it on the supermarket shelf. It’s safe in moderation and the Food and Drug Administration have stated the levels are too low to cause significant harm.

I Quit Sugar rating: 4/5

Dates and date paste.

Dates are a stone fruit and another nutritious option on this list. They boast high levels of potassium and magnesium – offering 20% and 14% of the daily intake, respectively. Dates are also high in fibre, which research shows plays an essential role in managing blood sugar. Date paste is another alternative you can use, and it’s made from dates and water. It’s the perfect consistency to add to salad dressings or even in soups and stews to add in some sweetness.

Our recommendation: Research shows that consuming dates in the final weeks of pregnancy may actually reduce the length of labour, along with improving cervical dilation. So, if you’re expecting, add this one to your list!

I Quit Sugar rating: 4/5

Blackstrap molasses.

This thick, syrupy sugar alternative is purported to have benefits for period pains, anaemia and arthritis – though studies have not proven this yet. Blackstrap molasses are made during the sugar production process. First the sugarcane is boiled and then filtered, leading to the characteristic texture of molasses. It’s then boiled again twice, giving it a darker and more bitter taste. It’s also more nutritious than regular sugar, with 20% of your daily iron intake in just one serve and 10% of your calcium needs.

Our recommendation: Opt for this sugar alternative if you’re looking for a more nutritional sweetener, especially for bone and hair health. We like to add it to smoothies, sauces and baked goods.

I Quit Sugar rating: 4/5


Stevia is of the more well-known natural sweeteners used to sweeten up food. It’s derived from the plant by the same name and is between 50 and 300 times as sweet as regular sugar. It’s also heat stable, making it perfect for baking. But, when swapping sugar out of a recipe, it’s important to use a quarter of a teaspoon of stevia in place of 1 cup of sugar.

Our recommendation: Choose a stevia product that’s green – this is because stevia is green in its pure form, meaning there are less additives. We also note that this sweetener was originally used for sterilisation, and though there is no evidence to suggest it could have this effect on humans, pregnant women are still advised to take caution or discuss usage with a doctor first.

I Quit Sugar rating: 4.5/5


Erythritol is a non-nutritive sweetener and is known as a sugar alcohol. It’s often manufactured by fermenting glucose. It’s around 60% less sweet than table sugar, but it still makes an exceptional substitute when baking. This is because it can be used at a 1:1 ratio, so there’s no need to alter the recipe with confusing measurements. It also helps to slowly reduce your cravings for overly sugary foods with its milder sweetness.

Our recommendation: If you’re prone to digestive issues, it may be wise to steer clear of this one. Our bodies lack the enzyme needed to metabolise erythritol, meaning it can cot a host of stomach issues, from constipation to diarrhoea.  

I Quit Sugar rating: 4.5/5


Allulose is hailed for its near-identical profile to regular sugar, including taste and texture – without the excessive carbohydrate content. It’s also less likely to cause digestive disturbances as it is excreted through the urine – and unlike regular sugar – it doesn’t burden the liver. In fact, some studies show this sweetener can be beneficial to the liver, even reducing the visceral fat content. It’s hard to find in Australian supermarkets at the moment, but it’s readily available online if you’re keen to try this popular sweetener.

Our recommendation: This alternative is great for baking, with a similar taste and an equal ratio to regular sugar, it’s an easy swap to make.

I Quit Sugar rating: 4.5/5

Monk fruit.

Monk fruit is a zero-calorie sweetener and also known as the “Buddha Fruit”, with this name credited to the monks who harvested it in 13th century China. It’s over 100 times sweeter than regular sugar and, while it contains fructose and glucose, the sweetness comes from antioxidants known as mogrosides. Due to the fact that this fruit goes off quickly, it’s most commonly available in its dehydrated, powder form or in liquid form. This process ensures that the antioxidants are separated from the juice – meaning the sweetener you’ll find in the stores won’t have fructose or glucose. Sounds pretty good to us!

Our recommendation: If you’re concerned about blood sugar spikes, we recommend monk fruit sweetener. This is because it has a zero glycaemic index, making it a solid option for diabetics too. Research even shows that it may have a lowering effect on blood sugar levels.

I Quit Sugar rating: 4.5/5

Maple syrup.

This Canadian sweetener has been hailed as liquid gold, and for good reason. With a lower glycaemic index than sugar and antioxidants that reduce inflammation, maple syrup makes for a decent alternative. Plus, with its stronger taste, you can use less and still enhance the flavour of your dishes, whether it be used as the traditional topping to pancakes or for baked goods and even as a glaze for your veggies.

Our recommendation: Just be sure that you use pure maple syrup – the supermarket shelves are lined with versions that have added ingredients or heavily processed maple syrup, which means less fibre and less healthful benefits.

I Quit Sugar rating: 3/5


These are just some of the countless sugar replacement options to help you keep those cravings in check. If you’re looking to learn how to eat sugar in moderation – or even cut it out of your life completely – we invite you to join our 8-Week Program.

How does it work?

When you sign up to our program you’ll have access to clear-cut plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:

  1. 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
  2. 90+ member-only recipes.
  3. Community forums for support and care.
  4. Support from us on the I Quit Sugar team, plus 8WP Ambassadors.
  5. Access to a program recommended by 94% of graduates.


The next round is starting soon, if you’re ready to bid farewell to low moods and excited for a future of health, happiness and motivation – JOIN NOW!


Leave a comment (all fields required)

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Search our shop