A key part of following a ketogenic, or keto, diet is reducing your sugar intake.
This is necessary for your body to enter ketosis, a state in which your body burns fat rather than sugar for energy (1Trusted Source).
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy sweet-tasting foods.
Sugar alcohols are sweeteners that have tastes and textures similar to those of sugar, but fewer calories and a less significant effect on blood sugar levels (2Trusted Source).
As a result, they can be a satisfying option for individuals looking to reduce their sugar intake, such as those following a keto diet.
This article explains whether sugar alcohols are keto-friendly, as well as which ones may be better options for you.
Sugar alcohols occur naturally in some fruits and vegetables. However, most are commercially manufactured in a lab (2Trusted Source).
While there are many types of sugar alcohols, common ones you may see on food labels include (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source):
- Erythritol. Often made by fermenting the glucose found in cornstarch, erythritol has 70% of the sweetness of sugar but 5% of the calories.
- Isomalt. Isomalt is a mixture of two sugar alcohols — mannitol and sorbitol. Providing 50% fewer calories than sugar, it’s most commonly used to make sugar-free hard candies and 50% as sweet.
- Maltitol. Maltitol is processed from the sugar maltose. It’s 90% as sweet as sugar with almost half the calories.
- Sorbitol. Commercially produced from glucose, sorbitol is 60% as sweet as sugar with about 60% of the calories.
- Xylitol. One of the most common sugar alcohols, xylitol is as sweet as regular sugar but has 40% fewer calories.
When you eat sugar, your body breaks it down into smaller molecules. These molecules are then absorbed into your bloodstream, which causes your blood sugar levels to rise (6Trusted Source).
In contrast, your body cannot fully break down and absorb carbs from sugar alcohols. As a result, they cause a much smaller rise in blood sugar levels (7Trusted Source).
One way to compare the effects of these sweeteners is their glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly foods can raise your blood sugar (8Trusted Source).
Here are the GI values of common sugar alcohols (4Trusted Source):
- Erythritol: 0
- Isomalt: 2
- Maltitol: 35–52
- Sorbitol: 9
- Xylitol: 7–13
Overall, most sugar alcohols have negligible effects on your blood sugar levels. To compare, white table sugar (sucrose) has a glycemic index of 65 (4Trusted Source).