Can I Eat Sugar Alcohols On My Low Carb Diet?
"Polyols" or sugar alcohols are a number of different
carbohydrates that are neither sugars nor alcohols--and
are commonly used as artificial sweeteners in a range
of products, from ice cream to chewing gum.
While these tasty sweeteners appear to be the perfect
solution for both low-carb dieters and low-carb
food producers, recent studies of sugar alcohols
have painted a somewhat different picture.
To begin with, sugar alcohols are not entirely carb-free.
Most studies have indicated that sugar alcohols contain
approximately 1/2 to 1/3 the amount of calories as
sugar--and in the form of carbohydrates.
In addition, studies have shown that sugar alcohols
are absorbed by the small intestine, but the process
is slower and fractured. This affects a rise
in blood sugar, but again is smaller and more gradual
than with sugar--and the rise tends to vary from
person to person.
Sugar alcohols also have a laxative effect on some
consumers. Since they are only partially absorbed,
they bring water into the bowel--and undigested
carbs into the colon, creating gas and bloating
as the carbs are acted on by bacteria.
Over-consumption of sugar alcohols can often
have an adverse effect on low carb dieters,
even when they can digest them properly.
Sugar alcohols can trigger cravings in
low carb dieters, causing them to deviate
from dietary restrictions.
In addition, sugar alcohols can often cause
low carb dieters to choose an unhealthy
diet of sweets, which appear to be carb-free,
over a varied diet that includes essential nutrients.
If you are currently on a low carb diet and want
to mix sugar alcohol products into your diet,
it is very important that you monitor your total
sugar alcohol intake--and keep it at a minimum while
consuming a healthy diet.
One easy way to do this is to determine the total
amount of carbs in sugar alcohol products you are
consuming. You can do this by subtracting the
amount of fat and protein calories per serving
from the total amount of calories per serving.
Simply multiply the grams of protein by four
and the grams of fat by nine. Now subtract
the sum of the two from the total amount of
calories per serving.
Using these figures, you can determine whether
or not carbs are being "hidden" in "carb free"
sugar alcohol products you consume, allowing
you to make a better-informed decision that
fits the prescriptions of your low-carb diet.
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