Dude at the vitamin shop claims sugar alcohols arent like regular sugar, it seems like some of these "nutrition bars" are glorified snickers but he says sugar alcohol is totally different than sugar, what is the real take on this?
They are different in the fact that most have around 2.4 Calories per gram as opposed to regular sugar having 4 Cals per gram. This is why they are found in diet and protein bars.
Personally, I get terrible gas and smelly farts whenever I eat a bar with more than a few grams of Sugar Alcohols, which is why I stick to Clif Bars or FiniBars
They also don't increase blood glucose levels. So it is fair to count them as being different than sugars such as glucose or sucrose.
But unfortunately, as Rocky2 pointed out, except for xylitol they also differ in how they act in the GI tract. The difference can also include inducing loose stools or even diarrhea if the amount consumed is at all substantial.
Xylitol however is rarely used because it is expensive and not very sweet.
I read in an internet article that you should think of sugar alcohols as 1/2 a gram of sugar and eat accordingly to that. When I eat protein bars I'm either in a rush or a place where i can't bring a meal so I deal with the extra sugar.
Another thing to keep in mind is that they react different from person to person as far as absorption are concerned. Only way to know for sure how you react is by using a glucometer and tracking blood sugars.