Are Sugar Alcohols OK For Diabetics?

Xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol, and maltitol are common sugar alcohols (they commonly end in the letters –ol, like sugar “alcohol,” which might help you locate them immediately in the ingredient list).

Do Sugar Alcohols Raise Blood Sugar?

Sugar alcohols are a form of carbohydrate that can cause blood sugar levels to rise. As you can see on the right-hand Nutrition Facts label, “Foods labeled as “sugar-free” but containing sugar alcohols are neither carbohydrate- nor calorie-free!

Sugar alcohols, on the other hand, are digested by the body differently than other carbs, and some may elevate your blood sugar somewhat while others may not.

Erythritol, for example, is a sugar alcohol that does not raise blood sugar levels. As a result, it’s become highly popular as a low-carb ingredient “foods that are “keto” Erythritol is available in certain supermarkets and can be used in home cooking, so it’s possible you’ll see it in low-carb dessert recipes.

What Might Sugar Alcohols Do in Other Parts of The Body?

Sugar alcohols, unlike normal sugar, do not cause cavities. In fact, xylitol, a sugar alcohol found in sugar-free chewing gum, may aid in cavity prevention.

Many sugar alcohols, especially when consumed in high quantities, can induce gas, bloating, and stomach discomfort, and some persons may be more sensitive to this effect than others.

If you get an unpleasant stomach after eating “sugar-free” or other items sweetened with sugar alcohols, check the ingredients to discover which type of sugar alcohol is used. You should either avoid items that contain that type of sugar alcohol or limit how much you eat in a single session.


Sugar alcohols are safe to consume and may be an excellent choice for diabetics. When used in excessive quantities, however, they can induce gastric problems, and some sugar alcohols can boost blood sugar levels.

“Sugar-free” does not necessarily imply “carbohydrate-free.” Sugar-free foods’ carbohydrate content can be seen on the label.

Sugar-free items can be included in your diet if you keep track of the carbs. Check your blood sugar 1 1/2 to 2 hours after consuming a sugar alcohol-containing food to see how it changes.

As usual, your nutritionist or diabetes health-care team can assist you in determining whether or not using sugar replacements in your diet is the right option for you.

How much sugar alcohol can a diabetic have?

While there aren’t particular guidelines for each form of sugar alcohol, a general limit of 50 grams is a good starting point.

Do sugar alcohols spike insulin?

Most sugar alcohols have little effects on blood sugar levels, as evidenced by the GI values listed above.

Although some sugar alcohols, such as maltitol and xylitol, have greater GIs than the others, they are still relatively low when compared to the GI of normal sugar.

This suggests that substituting sugar alcohols for ordinary sugar may have a favorable effect on blood sugar levels, allowing persons with diabetes to better manage their blood sugar levels.

The majority of sugar alcohols have a negligible impact on blood sugar and insulin levels. Despite the fact that some have a higher GI than others, they all have a lower impact on blood sugar levels than normal sugar.

What is the safest sweetener for diabetics?

Sweeteners extracted from the leaf of the stevia plant, which is native to Central and South America, are known as steviol glycosides. Truvia and Pure Via, two stevia-based sweetener brands, are both calorie-free, and stevia is commonly used in meals and beverages. Nonnutritive sweeteners, such as stevia, have little to no effect on blood sugar, according to the 2019 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, published in January 2019 in Diabetes Care. The FDA has cleared the use of certain stevia extracts that have been deemed safe by the agency (a term that is applied to food additives that qualified experts deem as safe, and therefore not subject to the usual premarket review and approval process).

People have reported gastrointestinal issues after ingesting large amounts of stevia, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. However, there is no sufficient scientific evidence to back up these assertions.

An ADI of 4 mg or less of Truvia per kilogram of body weight per day is recommended by the FDA. To meet that level, a 132-pound person would need to consume nine tabletop packets of the artificial sweetener every day.

Here’s what you need to know:

Sugar alcohols have a lower influence on blood sugar levels than regular sugar because they are difficult to digest. Subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol mentioned on the food label from the total grams of carbohydrate when counting carbohydrates in goods containing sugar alcohols.

Remember that sugar alcohols are more difficult for your body to digest, so eating too much of them might cause digestive issues including gas, cramps, and diarrhea.

Now let’s practice using the samplefood label shown here:

  • Find the total carbohydrate content of a single serving. The total carbohydrate is 29 grams, as you can see.
  • Calculate half of the sugar alcohol grams (18 grams ofsugar alcohol divided by 2 equals 9 grams).
  • Count this product as 20 grams of carbohydrate by subtracting half of the grams of sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrate (29grams total carbohydrate minus 9 grams sugar alcohol equals 20 grams ofcarbohydrate).

Do sugar alcohols count as carbs for diabetes?

A carbohydrate is sugar alcohol. Even though it has a lower influence on blood sugar than real sugar, consuming too much of it might elevate blood sugar levels.

It’s fine to eat sugar alcohol-containing meals if you have diabetes. However, because sugar alcohol is a carbohydrate, portion control is still necessary.

Read the Nutrition Facts label on everything you eat, including sugar-free and calorie-free goods. Those claims frequently refer to specific serving sizes. If you eat more than the recommended serving size, you may increase your carbohydrate intake.

What is the best alcohol to drink for a diabetic?

Alcohol with a low sugar or carbohydrate content is the best choice for diabetics.

Light beers, red and white wines, distilled spirits, and low-carb cocktails are all OK, as long as sugary juices or syrups are avoided.

Traditional cocktails, dessert wines, and cream liqueurs, on the other hand, tend to have higher sugar content, which can cause blood sugar levels to surge.

Whatever type of alcoholic beverage you choose, keep in mind that it’s not simply sugar that affects your blood sugar control. It’s the same with booze. As a result, you should drink in moderation and adhere to the guidelines outlined above.

Certain diabetes drugs, such as insulin and sulfonylureas, can raise your risk of hypoglycemia, which is amplified by alcohol. If you’re on medication, check with your doctor to see if and how you can consume alcohol safely.

Should I count sugar alcohols as carbs?

Sugar alcohols are not counted as carbs in your daily carb count since your body metabolizes them differently than sugar.

How many grams of sugar alcohols can you have a day?

Moderate dosages of 10–15 grams per day are commonly tolerated, according to current standards. To avoid symptoms, sensitive people may need to avoid sugar alcohols, especially sorbitol and maltitol, or minimize their intake ( 3 , 9 , 10 ).

Is erythritol bad for diabetics?

Erythritol (ear-RITH-ri-tall) has been around since the time of grapes, peaches, pears, watermelon, and mushrooms. A sugar alcohol is a type of carbohydrate that is used as a sugar replacement.

Some foods naturally contain erythritol. It’s also created when fermented foods like wine, beer, and cheese are consumed.

Since 1990, erythritol has been available as a man-made sweetener in addition to its natural form. It’s sold alongside other sugar alternatives in supermarkets and on the internet.

It’s also sold in bulk to companies that use it to sweeten or thicken foods and drinks that are low in calories or sugar-free. It’s frequently combined with sugar substitutes like aspartame, stevia, and Truvia to make products sweeter.

Calories. Erythritol provides 0 calories per gram, whereas sugar has four. That’s because it’s swiftly absorbed by your small intestine and excreted through urine within 24 hours. This means that erythritol does not have a chance to “metabolize,” or convert into energy, in your body.

Safety. Despite the fact that erythritol is one of the younger sugar alcohols on the market (xylitol and mannitol have been around longer), it has been studied extensively in both animals and humans. Erythritol was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1999 and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001.

It’s also suitable for diabetics. Erythritol has no influence on the levels of glucose or insulin. If you have diabetes, this makes it a safe sugar replacement. Foods containing erythritol may still contain carbohydrates, calories, or fat, so read the label carefully.

How much food can I consume? Although there are no formal guidelines for utilizing erythritol, most people can tolerate 1 gram per kilogram of body weight on a daily basis. If you weigh 150 pounds, 68 grams of erythritol per day, or more than 13 teaspoons, is tolerable.

What it’s used for. Erythritol can be used in the same way as sugar. It’s excellent to add it to coffee or tea, to sprinkle on grapefruit, or to bake with. Because it’s a sugar substitute rather than real sugar, baked goods may have a different flavor or consistency than you’re used to.

What is the best natural sugar for diabetics?

Many people believe that a diabetes-friendly diet is devoid of sweetness and excitement, but this isn’t true.

Dr. Thinh Xuan Ho, a primary care physician at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group, shared some healthy components and fascinating options to make your meals tasty and nutritious. One method to achieve this is to replace granulated sugar in your favorite dishes with a diabetic-safe sweetener.

Sweeteners Diabetics Should Avoid

For diabetics, not all natural sweeteners are safe options. While agave has a low glycemic index (meaning it’s less likely to trigger blood glucose rises), it has more calories and a higher fructose content than granulated sugar. When opposed to sucrose, which is found in table sugar, fructose can cause the body to produce less insulin and put more burden on the liver as it breaks down the sugars.

In other words, the disadvantages of an alternate sweetener on insulin resistance may outweigh the advantages. Consume artificial sweeteners with caution, as well as more natural sweeteners such maple syrup, corn syrup, and xylitol.

safe sugar substitutes for diabetics

The sweet taste of monk fruit is due to mogrosides, a type of antioxidant found naturally in the fruit. Researchers have discovered a way to extract this antioxidant in order to create a sugar-free sweetener with no calories and no effect on blood sugar levels.

Manufacturers harvest the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant and turn them into fine crystals to make stevia sweetener. Stevia is a low-calorie sweetener that retains its flavor when heated, making it great for baking and hot beverages.

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol made from cornstarch or wheat fermentation. It is low in calories and has no effect on blood sugar levels. Sugar alcohols can upset your stomach, albeit erythritol is less prone than others to do so. Start with tiny doses and stop if you experience any discomfort. Having stated that, even in rather high quantities, it is safe.

Did you realize that the most natural sweetener may be found in the aisle? Fresh fruit is a terrific addition to your dishes since it contains fiber, which helps to decrease sugar absorption and hence lower blood sugar levels. In your next dish, try mashed bananas, unsweetened applesauce, or date paste.

“Most fresh fruits have a low to medium glycemic index,” according to Dr. Ho, “so they do not cause a rapid spike in blood glucose level when compared to other carbohydrate-containing foods.” Because we can’t consume a lot of fruits at once, fruit is a safe method to add sweetness to your diet. “A portion of fresh fruit includes on average roughly 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates, which is the equal of a slice of bread.”

“Most people with diabetes don’t need to limit their fruit intake,” Dr. Ho explains. “However, dried fruits and fruit juices contain a lot of sugar and should be consumed in moderation or avoided.”

A diabetes-friendly dessert

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and raisins. Remove from the equation.
  • Combine the bananas and peanut butter in a mixing bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients until a smooth dough forms.
  • Place a large scoop of dough on a cookie sheet, flatten it into a ball, and gently press it down. Continue until all of the dough has been used.

You don’t have to give up your favorite foods if you have diabetes. Make an appointment with a general care physician or an endocrinologist at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group for guidance on how to improve your diet and your health.