T Nation

Sugar Alcohol


What is it? I see these protein bars at the store that are "Carb Concoius" and it says they have like 4 grams of sugar and like 30 of sugar alcohols. How are sugar alcohols different than sugar?


A sugar alcohol (like xylitol, malitol, sorbitol) is designed to taste sweet to the mouth but not pack the same punch to the gut. From a food science perspective, it is a way to impart sweetness to a food without adding too many calories to the product. And you can call your product “low carb” because it is not technically a carbohydrate.


sugar alcohols also do not raise your insulin nearly as much (or not at all) as regular sugar.


Sugar alcohols vary and probably should not be painted with the same brush. Malitol can cause stomach distress. Erithrytol does not. Some sugar alcohols do have an impact on insulin (a smaller impact than regular sugar, but if you’re diabetic for example, or really carb-sensitive, that can be important).

I use Sucralose (mainly) and sometimes combine it with Erithrytol for baking. Malitol seems like something to avoid, IMO.


I would stay away from malitol as well.

Also, splenda is good, but it does at carbs if you pig out on it because it is bound with maltodextrin.

Based on some haphazard research that I did, I bought xylitol and used it. My gut didn’t like it too much, but apparently it doesn’t effect others. I happened to get pretty bloated using it though.