During the ketogenic diet, you will begin reading labels on anything and everything you purchase. While cutting back on processed and packaged foods is highly recommended, there are still times when you might want to get a low-carb treat or snack from your nearby supermarket. One thing you will notice with low-carb packaged foods is that they often include something about sugar alcohols. Here is more information on these and why they are important.

Sugar-Free Isn’t Really Sugar-Free

This is one of the most common misconceptions about sugar alcohols. While the artificial sweeteners and “natural” sugars found in your favorite low-carb or sugar-free foods don’t affect your daily carb count the way normal sugar does, they are still there. These are known as sugar alcohols, which react in different ways. There are some sugar alcohols that don’t metabolize right, so while they are from natural sources, you might hit a stall eating too much of them. Other sugar alcohols, like maltitol, should be avoided because they are difficult to digest and can cause a lot of issues.

Types of Sugar Alcohols

When you are on the ketogenic diet, you should get used to reading labels on everything you eat. One thing you might notice is when looking at the nutritional label, there is something in there called “sugar alcohols”. This label is there to remind you that you can remove it – more on that later. But you might also see them listed under the ingredients. You probably recognize some sugar alcohols, while others aren’t as obvious right away. Some sugar alcohols include maltitol, erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, and isomalt.

The Bottom Line

Sugar alcohols aren’t necessarily bad for you, but you should note how you feel after consuming them. If you get a low-carb candy bar that is made with certain types of sugar alcohols, and you notice it keeps giving you stomach cramps, then your body is not digesting it properly. Some people tend to be more sensitive to them than others.

As far as their impact for keto itself, that will depend on how much you consume. In general, you can remove the sugar alcohols when determining net carbs, which many labels will show you. This makes it easier to fit them into your daily keto carb allotment, but you should eat these treats sparingly and try to stick to the more whole, natural keto food options instead.