What are Sugar Alcohols?

Living the Low Carb Life with Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols, or polyols, are a common replacement of sugar in many foods and candies. Despite the name, sugar alcohols are neither a sugar nor an alcohol. They can be thought of as ‘sugar, transformed’ on the molecular level. These transformed sugars are sweet to the taste like sugar but are slow to be absorbed within the body. This slow rate of absorption coupled with the lower calorie content combine to create an excellent low carbohydrate sweetener for food, candies, and drinks.

The transformed sugar, formally a hydrogenated carbohydrate, is simply a carbohydrate that has been broken down into its smallest part and altered just enough to change its composition. This change creates a product that is very similar to sugar in its taste and function, but lower in calories.

Sugar alcohols are a particularly good choice for people on a low carb diet because they do not cause the same spike in blood sugar levels that normal sugar does. All digested food has to pass through the small intestine; sugar is quickly absorbed into the intestine and causes the blood glucose levels to increase. This increase tells the human body to create insulin and feed the cells the glucose energy. With sugar alcohols, there is no spike in blood glucose levels so the body does not use the polyols as fuel, they simply pass through virtually unnoticed.

Weight loss can be supported through the consumption of foods containing sugar alcohols. The mind will be satiated by eating the foods it craves while the body will not have to absorb the extra energies and store them. Accelerated weight loss will result when the amount of energy used by the body exceeds the amount of energy taken in and stored. Sugar alcohols limit the amount of energy taken in and stored by cells.

Popular low carb foods that contain sugar alcohols are sugar-free candies, diet soft drinks, chewing gum, jams and jellies, chocolate, and ice cream. Sugar alcohols are growing in popularity as a sugar substitute because of the benefits to the low carb lifestyle. Although they are very popular, one possible side effect of consuming sugar alcohols is an upset stomach, bloating, or diarrhea. Some people are immune to these side effects while others are sensitive to even a small quantity.

Sugar alcohols have been an enormous development in making everyday foods available to those living a low carb life. Weight loss is becoming more achievable since people can hardly distinguish the real sugary foods from their sugar-free counterparts, all made possible by sugar alcohols.