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What are Sugar Alcohols?


One ingredient that seems to be in almost every "low sugar" protein bar on the market today is "Sugar Alcohol", the one we see most often is Erythritol.

Sticking to our "if we don't know what it is, or can't pronounce it, then we don't want it in our bar" philosophy, we chose to steer clear of all sugar alcohols in all of our bars, and we are so happy that we did.

As we researched this ingredient more, we were shocked to learn that sugar alcohols act as a laxative, and can produce bloating and diarrhea when eaten in "excessive amounts". This explains why many people just don't feel well after eating a protein bar. And if we are planning on doing back squats, double unders and box jumps after fueling up on a protein bar, do we really want to risk having diarrhea? I think not!

I recently found a wonderful article from Yale New Haven Hospital on the topic of sugar alcohols. The following is an excerpt from the article and the entire article can be found here:

After reading this, I think you will agree with us in that we would rather eat a few grams of sugar than a few grams of this stuff!

Pros and Cons of Sugar Alcohols

On the positive side, sugar alcohols contain less calories (1.5 - 3 calories per gram) than sugar (4 calories per gram), and they do not cause tooth decay like sugar does. Therefore, many "sugar-free" gums including Trident® and Extra® are made with sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols also add texture to foods, retain moisture better and prevent foods from browning when they are heated.

Unfortunately, there are some negatives associated with sugar alcohols. The most common side effect is the possibility of bloating and diarrhea when sugar alcohols are eaten in excessive amounts. There is also some evidence that sugar alcohols, much like fructose (natural fruit sugar) in fruit and fruit juice can cause a "laxative effect." Weight gain has been seen when these products are overeaten. The American Diabetes Association claims that sugar alcohols are acceptable in a moderate amount but should not be eaten in excess. Some people with diabetes, especially Type I diabetics, have found that their blood sugars rise if sugar alcohols are eaten in uncontrolled amounts.

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