If you’ve been following a ketogenic diet, you’ve probably come across something that contains sugar alcohol.
While you should limit your sugar intake in general, it is difficult to completely cut out sugar from your diet. After all, almost everything packaged these days has sugar to enhance flavor – be it your morning bread or healthy yogurt.
That is when sugar alcohols come in handy!
Sugar alcohols are keto-friendly. They are a fantastic alternative to conventional sugar. That’s because unlike regular sugar, which is famous for its high glycemic index, sugar alcohols do not cause blood glucose and insulin levels to spike.
This prevention of insulin resistance is one of the most significant health benefits of the keto diet.
What Is Sugar Alcohol And How Is It Related To Keto?
Sugar alcohols are usually man-made from the processing of ordinary sugars but are also present naturally in some fruits.
Some sugar alcohols have no calories, while others have around one-third to one-half the calories that sugar does. It implies they do not supply as much energy in the form of calories to the body as conventional sugar.
As a result of their decreased calorie content, they’re usually present in foods labeled “sugar-free” or “no sugar added.”
They are widely present in various things such as sugar-free chewing gum and pharmaceuticals, in addition to food!
They are sweet like natural sugars, but their molecular structure is different. This makes them more challenging to absorb and digest. This ability to not get easily absorbed and become a reason for obesity or diabetes; plus the low-calorie content makes it a great addition to the keto diet.
The ketogenic diet, in general, restricts your carbohydrate consumption. It does so to ensure your blood sugar levels never surge during the day.
Sugar alcohols’ keto-friendly nature not only allows you to fulfill your sugar craving without any guilt. It also helps in your journey towards getting keto diet benefits.
So, you can definitely consider sugar alcohol as one of the things you can eat on keto.
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Types Of Sugar Alcohols
Some of these sweeteners come from nature, such as fruits. Some of them come straight from the plants. Most sugar alcohols, on the other hand, are man-made from sugars and starches.
It contains just 75% of the sweetness of table sugar, yet it has 75% of the blood sugar effect. Because of its enticing taste and texture, maltitol is often used in ice cream, sweets, and nutrition bars.
Natural sources of erythritol include melons, grapes, mushrooms, and some fermented foodstuffs. Many people who follow a low-carb or low-sugar diet utilize erythritol because it has the least influence on blood sugar. It does, however, have a cold flavor that some people dislike.
You can take advantage of its health benefits in keto-friendly energy drinks that have better flavors.
The primary source of mannitol is Seaweed, but it also comes from natural foods like sweet potatoes, pineapples, and carrots. Mannitol can be rough on the stomach, which can cause bloating and diarrhea in some people.
You must avoid it when you follow a keto diet, as you are already vulnerable to keto flu symptoms like keto diarrhea.
Some fruits naturally contain sorbitol. It usually comes from dextrose, which in turn, comes from cornstarch when it is used to make culinary goods. Sorbitol has a sweetness level of around 60% that of regular sugar.
Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates (HSH)
HSHs (hydrogenated starch hydrolysates) are sugar alcohol combinations. It is usually used as a sweetener, rehydration agent, and ingredient in industrial food manufacturing as it prevents the development of crystals in goods like syrup.
It is a pleasantly sweet chemical that acts in food items as a sweetener, as well as a food additive for bulking and texture.
It also has application as a thickening agent in liquids like vanilla extracts and cough syrup.
It is commonly used in baking because it adds a lot of weight without breaking down or losing its sweetness when cooked.
It is a sugar alcohol derived from beets. It has half the sweetness of sucrose (table sugar) while also having half the calories.
To make food sweeter, isomalt is combined with additional sweeteners like sucralose. You can find it in products like sugar-free cough syrup.
Sugar Alcohols And Their Glycemic Indexes
Because most sugar alcohols are only partially absorbed in the small intestine, they do not boost blood sugar in the same manner that sucrose does. However, they do have some impact.
The glycemic index measures this impact i.e., how much blood glucose rises after a meal gets digested and absorbed.
The measurement is in a numeric range of zero to 100.
When comparing the glycemic indices of sugar alcohols to sugar, you can observe this.
Sucrose (table sugar) has a glycemic index of roughly 65, while the glycemic indexes of the primary sugar alcohols range from 0 to 45. As a result, sugar alcohols may elevate your blood glucose levels, but not as much as sucrose or glucose.
Erythritol, another sugar alcohol, gets metabolized differently from other sugar alcohols. That’s because erythritol gets fully absorbed in the small intestine. So it does not affect blood glucose levels.
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Sugar alcohols have become more popular, especially in conjunction with the low-carb and keto diets. That’s because they have a similar sweetness to table sugar but fewer calories that may otherwise get your body out of ketosis.
Regardless of their reduced calorie count, they still have a net carb count. So, you must calculate net carbs properly and determine whether or not you are staying under your daily total carb consumption limit.
You’ll need to figure out how much of these fantastic keto sugar alcohols you can use or whether you need to avoid them altogether considering your keto diet plan. Perhaps one form of sugar alcohol is better for you than another.
Despite this, sugar alcohols are an excellent alternative to other forms of sugar with a high glycemic index. You can use them while on the keto diet to satisfy your sweet tooth.