I have a question about sugar alcohol. I am on a low carb diet but I have a real sweet tooth. There are lots of low carb sweets but they all have sugar alcohol. What is sugar alcohol? Does it count as carbs?
Dear Sweet Tooth,
There are many different types of sugar alcohol, also known as polyols. They occur naturally in some foods and are frequently used in low carb products because they don't have the same amount of calories as sugar. A carb of sugar alcohol doesn't affect the blood sugar the same was as regular sugar because it isn't metabolized as quickly.
Sugar alcohol comes in a wide variety of flavors, including: mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol, and HSH (hydrogenated starch hydrosylates).
Sugar alcohol has only 1.5-3 calories per gram, as opposed to sugar's 4 calories per gram. Sugar alcohol doesn't cause tooth decay and is digested more slowly by the body, and therefore doesn't lead to insulin spiking like regular sugar does.
Unfortunately, overindulgence in sugar alcohol can cause bloating and diarrhea. Some types of sugar alcohol have a laxative effect. All these side effects can be more severe in those who are sensitive.
So go ahead and indulge in sugar alcohol confections, but indulge wisely and in moderation. Don't let you sweet tooth be the downfall of your low carb diet.
Reviewed as of: May 2019
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