Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Sugar Alcohols

Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Sugar Alcohols

The moment you think that you know everything there is to know about maintaining and losing weight, something comes along and changes the playing field completely.

We assume that sugars are bad for our health because they create problems with insulin and pleasure receptors. However, there’s a chance that not all sugars are necessarily created equal. In fact, sugar alcohols may behave differently in the body, making them a more guilt-free option for sweetening your foods.

As part of my Marc Dressen online fitness trainer strategy, I try to make sure that my clients have all the information they need when it comes to exercise and nutrition.

So, what’s the truth about sugar alcohols?

The simple answer is that they’re not a miracle solution for food. Instead, they’re just another simple tool that you can use when you’re planning your diet in association with your workout. Due to their association with other “healthy junk foods,” they can have something of a bad reputation, but they might be better for you than you’d think.

What are Sugar Alcohols?

The first thing you need to understand if you want to make the most of sugar alcohols is what they are. The more you know, the more likely you are to get real, lasting results from your diet changes. Sugar alcohols are simply sugar alcohols that are attached to alcohol molecules.

Importantly, the alcohol molecules aren’t the same as the ones in your standard pint of beer. They’re more commonly found in some grains, vegetables, and fruits. The alcohol part modifies the way the sugar is absorbed in the body, which is why these substances are so popular.

Sugar alcohols bypass the small intestine and are only partially absorbed into the bloodstream, which means that they end up providing fewer calories per gram than your basic table sugar. Sometimes, they can be used to reduce calories in a product and mitigate the negative effects of sugars.

Can you Lose More Weight with Sugar Alcohols?

In general, dietary carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, but those calories are only counted when they’re absorbed into your body for use as energy. Since your body will only partially digest sugar alcohols, your system only accesses a small amount of those calories.

If your body can only absorb around 25% of the calories in sugar alcohol, then you might only get 50 calories out of what would otherwise be 200 calories worth of sugar. This why some weight loss products are using sugar alcohols to help reduce calorie intake and improve weight loss.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should replace your focus on lean protein and vegetables for sugar alcohols. It simply indicates that sugar alcohols could be a better solution when you want to get more sweetness into your system.

Can you Control Blood Sugar with Sugar Alcohols?

Sugar alcohols have also been recommended for their ability to control blood sugar levels. Many of the studies conducted on sugar alcohols in relation to blood sugar have been done on diabetics, who use these substances as a way of eating sweeter foods without increasing insulin dosage.

Erythritol – one common type of sugar alcohol, has a particularly minimal impact on insulin release in both obese and lean non-diabetics. One 20-gram dose should have little to no side effects when it comes to glucose control in diabetics.

Can Sugar Alcohols Improve Your Health?

While eating more sugar alcohols might not improve your wellbeing overall, there are a few things they can do for your health. For instance, the bacteria in your intestines helps to digest sugar alcohols, which improves fermentation and leads to the production of advanced short-chain fatty acids.

Additionally, sugar alcohols can also be useful when it comes to improving dental health. Some studies indicate a clear connection between the sugar alcohol known as xylitol and dental health. This is why you’ll find this substance in most naturally-sweetened chewing gums.

The reason that these substances improve your dental health is simple: they aren’t actually sugar. Since bacteria in your mouth feasts on standard sugar, producing acidic components that erode your teeth enamel, typical sugar is terrible for your dental health. However, sugar alcohols don’t work in the same way. Although they won’t cure your dental problems, they can ensure you don’t cause any more of them.

What are the Problems with Sugar Alcohols?

Perhaps the biggest problem of sugar alcohols is that they can cause upset stomach and give you diarrhoea. Because they’re particularly difficult to digest, these substances can arrive in the colon mostly intact, before they’re collected by bacteria, producing additional gas. They also pull water from the body into the colon, and when there’s too much water in the colon, the stool becomes loose and watery.

The exception to the rule here is Erythritol because it’s generally absorbed most within the small intestine, causing fewer issues than some other types of sugar alcohols. However, this is why a lot of natural supplements that use sugar alcohols tend to give people stomach issues when too much is taken at once. The degree of unwanted side effects that you might experience will depend on various factors, including:

  • How much you’ve adapted to the use of sugar alcohols in your diet
  • How frequently you eat these substances
  • What kind of sugar alcohols you eat
  • What you eat your sugar alcohols with
  • Whether you eat large amounts at once.

In other words, if you only eat sugar alcohols occasionally, but in large amounts without any other food, then you’re likely to experience problems.

Finishing Thoughts on Sugar Alcohols

At the end of the day, sugar alcohols aren’t the ultimate way to accomplish all your diet goals with a zero-calorie sugar replacement. Instead, they can simply be a safe and effective way to replace some of the sugars in your diet with something that’s much lower in calories, and much safer.

Be careful about adding them to your meals, and make sure that you know exactly what you’re getting into before you make any significant changes to your eating habits.


Marc Dressen
Personal Trainer London

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