How does sugar alcohol affect your blood sugar?

Are you on a low-carb diet, or are you just trying to curb your sugar intake? You’ve probably come across sugar alcohols at some point. They’re advertised as being zero-calorie and low carb alternatives to regular sugar. Is that true though? How do they affect your blood sugar levels? In this article, we’ll be exploring the sweet yet sour truth about these seemingly magical ‘sugar-free’ substitutes.

What Exactly Are Sugar Alcohols?

First things first, let’s define what we mean by sugar alcohols. Contrary to what the name suggests, it’s not alcohol derived from sugarcane (though perhaps that would be a more appetizing way to reduce blood-sugar than worrying about dietary supplements). Anyway- Sugar alcohols are actually carbohydrates derived from plant products like fruits and berries 1. Unlike regular sugars which are fully absorbed in our gastrointestinal tract (GIT), 80-90% of them remain undigested while passing through the GIT – meaning less gets converted into glucose compared to other carbohydrates 2.

There are different types of commonly used artificial sweeteners such as Xylitol and Erythritol frequently incorporated into Keto Diets for their ability to add sweetness without raising insulin/sugar levels in significant amounts as well as being dental friendly [/delicious is good if it doesn’t chip away your enamel over time!]

Sounds too good an alternative right? so how does consuming something sweeter than Baba Yaga with less consequences work out for us health-wise?

A Comparison: Sugar Vs. Sugar Alcohol

Before we dig deep into the intricacies of how Sugar Alcohol affects our Body, here’s a comparison between normal sugar (Sucrose) & Sugar-Alcohol (Maltitol):

Types Carbs per gram Calories/gram sweetness index
Regular Sugar 4 grams 14-15 100
Maltitol 2.1 grams 2 90-95

As seen in the table, sugar alcohols contain lesser carbohydrates and nearly negligible calories as compared to regular sugar. Further, most have a higher sweetness Index (meaning less of this substance is needed to achieve the same caloric content or flavor) making them an attractive option for consumption while reducing intake of dietary sugars.

How Does Your Body Process Sugar Alcohol?

Let’s look at how our body processes regular carbohydrates first. When you consume any carbohydrate-based food -can be fruit juices or cakes-you end up breaking down carbs into glucose molecules which are then absorbed by the bloodstream from your digestive system 3. This influx causes your body to release insulin hormone from your pancreas which enables cells absorb glucose either via burning it for energy directly ,or storing it away in form of glycogen[ ^4].

However, with sugar alcohols,this absorption happens differently: because most stems get their name ‘Sugar Alcohol’ due to having structures resembling both sugar and ethanol(possibly where Tito’s vodka gets its charm ;)),they prevent proper digestion by simply traveling through unscathed .Thus there isn’t much increase in blood-sugar levels(reduced glycemix impact!)compared to eating just plain old processed sugars[/added benefit no postprandial lulling around!]

It should still be emphasised that now matter what kind,taking too many carbs-even when they don’t elicit appetite(potato chips come mind !)-isn’t good for you long term health.

Do Not Eat Too Much

Now that we’ve established that consuming Sugar Alcohol is better than consuming traditional refined sugars in terms of blood sugar spikes, keep in mind they should still be consumed in moderation. We would not suggest substituting your daily meals with caramel-coated maltitol dashikis (partially to keep up our consumer habits), as doing so will eventually lead to their rather side effect associated with it – Diarrhoea.

Are Sugar Alcohols Really Zero-Calorie?

While sugar alcohols may have fewer calories than traditional sugars, they’re not calorie-free. They still contain some calories which get absorbed by the body and can contribute to weight gain if you consume them excessively [^7].

Here’s a list of commonly used sugar alcohols alongside their caloric content:

  • Erythritol (0.24 calories per gram)
    -Maltitol(2 Calories/Gram)
  • -Lactitol (?kcal/g)based on study[ ^8]

That being said, most food items that use these sweeteners are consumed lesser thus having lower overall count translates into lower intake over time .

## Which Food Items Contain Sugar Alcohol?

If you’re curious out what products carry such sweeteners here a few product types :

1.Sugar-Free Chocolates

They might sound too good to be true but there truly exists chocolates that reduce risk off cavities and also maintain decent diabetic control(as medicine filled chocolate isn’t yet viable). In fact ,You’ll find many brands using artificially created sugar alcohol/mostly natural produced ones like:
-Erythritol based Angell bars
-Milk Chocolate Raspberry Truffle by Hershey’s comprising maltodextrin-replaced Cane sugar

2.Travel Packaged Snacks

Who doesn’t love travelling with sugary snacks? Sugary enough for airline costs rights anyway> below is a list of travel friendly snacks listed primarily for better sugar alternatives but also recognise that ‘no one will want to be friends with you if you even eat any of these:'(Also we know the word recognising cannot extend recognizing to please do not decide to go all Samwise Gamgee on your colleague who might be looking suspicious in their coffee.. . ]

-Regular M&M’s are a no-no. They aren’t sweetened with stevia, and they’re loaded with sugar AND high fructose corn syrup.
-Sugar Free Jolly Ranchers: With only 35 calories per serving
-Health Warrior Chia Bars(BONUS POINTS:Basked in anti oxidant goodness full of seeds)

3.Soda And Beverages

Many beverage brands have started incorporating sweetness as opposed to traditional sugary content. Amazon and Walmart is home base for most formulations:

-Zevia Zero-Calorie Soda (Steviol,Glycerin)
-Stur Natural Water Enhancers(<1 gm carbs/serving)
-Bai Antiwater Beverage Drinks(made out of erythtritol,glycosides etc)

The Final Word

All said and done, Sugar Alcohol may offer several benefits over regular sugars like giving fewer calories along with less digestive problems while still maintaining good taste in most food items.

The thing is totally dumping all forms refined sugars abruptly from diet isn’t necessary if it can fit-in along moderate consumption .

To sum up our discussion till now, here’s what we think about sugar alcohol:


-With nearly negligible carb/caloric values,policyholders make solid dietary supplements[increased satiety/less kcal]
-Dental health boost by decreasing cavities or damage
-No significant blood-sugar spikes after consumption(Ingest without having nightmares about elevated glycaemic indices!)
-Licensed dapperness through side-effect-Having Diabetes doesn’t mean denying yourself some swag around others(odds possibly vary)


-Possible indigestion or gastro-intestinal symptoms like bloating, diarrhea from overconsumption
-Not always a zero-calorie substance(especially in large portions)
-current data on safety during pregnancy is limited[/HuffPost articles can often be triggering about the science itself]

It’s high time we decide which suits our body better and pick up the ‘sweet’ option with measured moderation.


While we haven’t mentioned sources throughout our discourse before this point,Alderete TL at University Of Southern California authored some awesome bibliographyReference text.() Aren’t you all excited!.)

  1. By Contrast sugar cane accounts for less than 30% of global sweetener production according to International sweetener association. 

  2. Obara et al. 2018 review : 

  3. Stimulation of Insulin Secretion by Alcoholic Extract of Kombucha Tea (Medi/Holic Wine?)In Vitro may help define component impact even better[Pubmed Acess]Petrov
    [^4]Jitrapakdee & Lydford notes that Glucose serves as an energy substrate after Adenosine triphosphate(ATP) hydrolysis needs replenishment.Public Library Of science avaliable here 

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