Friday, January 11, 2008

What is Sugar Alcohol?

Until I started Atkins, if you had mentioned sugar alcohol to me, I would have thought you were talking about something like absinthe. But as it turns out, sugar alcohol is a carbohydrate that doesn't count towards the daily limit of 20g. I noticed that most food labels don't mention sugar alcohol; instead, they have total carbohydrates, fiber and sugar. Apparently a food manufacturer is only required to list sugar alcohol if they claim their product is sugar free, but they can do so voluntarily like many Atkins supplements do.

Technically called polyol, sugar alcohol is neither sugar nor alcohol. Per gram, sugar alcohol has less calories than sugar and it does not require insulin to turn into energy. The most common types of sugar alcohol are sorbitol, maltitol, isomalt, and xylitol (used in sugar-free gum).

And ofcourse, there are side effects of eating too much sugar alcohol. Common problems are gastrointestinal in nature, including bloating and diarrhea. These problems are more pronounced in people who have had gastric-bypass surgery.

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