Saturday, May 30, 2015

Low Carb Diet - Why Maltitol Is Not Your Friend

If you're diabetic or on a low carb diet and you have a sweet tooth, you'll hear the siren call of sugar-free treats. Sugar-Free Reese's Cups. Sugar-Free Hershey Bars. They taste amazing! However, you should consider avoiding temptations that are sweetened with maltitol. Here's a look at what maltitol is and why it might not be your dietary friend.

What Maltitol Is

Maltitol is a sugar alcohol. It tastes a lot like table sugar (sucrose), looks similar, and works much the same in recipes. It's a carbohydrate, but you can't metabolize it completely . It's added to foods to make them sugar-free in the belief the maltitol won't have the same effect on blood sugar you'd get from eating the real deal. Maybe for some people, this is true. For many, maltitol is just an expensive version of sugar.

Maltitol, Carbs, and Your Glycemic Index

Sugar-free candies sweetened with maltitol warn right on the packaging they are not low calorie foods. While you get only 2-3 calories per gram of maltitol, versus 4 calories per gram of sugar, maltitol isn't as sweet as sugar, so more is needed to get the same effect. Basically, this means you get the same calories per level of sweetness whether you use sucrose or maltitol. This would be fine, since calories aren't the concern, except many people's bodies recognize maltitol as a carbohydrate. Its glycemic index is 52, which approaches sugar's glycemic index of 60. If you're diabetic, it will spike your blood sugar. If you're on a low carb diet, it could knock you out of ketosis, stall weight loss, and lead to subsequent carb cravings.

Maltitol's Other Effect

Maltitol also causes digestive problems for many people. If the potential effect on your blood sugar doesn't scare you away, you might want to skip this ingredient to avoid the gas, cramps, and possibility of diarrhea. There are other sweeteners out there with fewer side effects and great taste that are less likely to mess up your diet. Choose one of them or at least exercise caution if you go for the maltitol treats. Limit yourself to one or two candies until you know what to expect.

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