February 28, 2013

Sugar Alcohol

Mission: Our syrup says Sugar-free, yet it still has Sugar Alcohol in it. So that led us on a hunt to learn more about what sugar alcohol is and whether or not we should be consuming it when dieting.

What is it? Sugar Alcohol is also known as Polyol or artificial sweetener. It is a misleading name because there is no sugar in it and there is no alcohol in it.  Sugar alcohol is actually a carbohydrate that is similar in chemical structure to that of sugar and that of alcohol. Sugar alcohols have the general formula H(HCHO)n+1H, whereas sugars have H(HCHO)nHCO.  So when it hits your tongue,your body registers it as something sweet like sugar because they are almost identical.  When in fact, it is not sugar.

Is it Healthy? Your body will not absorb the sugar alcohol completely so your blood sugar levels will not be affected much at all. This is great for people who are on low carbohydrate diets or are Diabetic.  The only downfall is the amount of Carbs and Calories it may add to your diet.

How much is okay? It is important to not consume too much because it converts into glucose slower than regular sugar and therefore may leave you feeling bloated or gas-y if too much is consumed.  If >50g is consumed, it may have a laxative effect.

How many calories are in it? There are about 1-3 calories per gram of Sugar Alcohol (this varies depending on the type of sugar alcohol). On a nutrition label, you can sometimes find the grams of Sugar Alcohol under the Carbohydrates breakdown.  So our syrup has 8g of sugar alcohol which means we are consuming about 8-24 calories per 1/4 cup serving (which is more than I use).

Comparison of Sugar and Sugar Alcohols

Sucrose ( regular sugar )100%604
Maltitol Syrup75%523
Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate33%392.8

Chart credit: here.

Is it okay to consume when dieting?: Up to you.  The pros are you get to enjoy a little sweetness without it effecting your carb/caloric intake too much.  The cons are they are still intake and must be burned off through exercise (they are not free calories). I say YES 😀  Happy tummy!  But if competing, consider cutting it out a month before your show.

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