So you are going on a Keto diet because you want to lose weight, and that is a good goal to have. You are planning to cut out your carbs from your foods, which is another great thing. However, there arises a problem – how exactly do you replace sugar in your dietary intake?
Starting the journey to a healthy lifestyle is always more difficult at the initial stages, and you cannot be expected to suddenly cut off all desserts and sweets from your life. The American diet in particular, makes it very hard for you to completely break away from starchy food and sugars entirely, since they are everywhere in your food. The best solution here is to have substitutes for your sugar, which will assist you to have a smoother transition.
The problem is that not all sugar substitutes are the same. For instance, some will have a bad aftertaste, others will be prone to breaking down very quickly when you use them in cooking and leave your food tasting bad, some are plant based, while others are artificial, and so on. Every sugar substitute will have different effects on your insulin and blood glucose levels.
Enter erythritol, discovered in 1848 and found to cause fewer problems in the digestive system. It also helps manufacturers to reduce costs, and produce more affordable sweet products and desserts. You might have a valid question though – is this sweetener worth it if you are on a Keto diet? Read on to find out.
The definition of erythritol Keto
This is a sweetener with zero calories, and is part of the reason why certain fermented foods and fruits have a sweet taste. These include watermelon, soy sauce, grapes, pears, sake, and wine. However, it occurs in very small amounts in all of these foods.
The classification in terms of its chemical makeup is not an alcohol, neither is it a sugar. It is a sugar alcohol, a man-made substance that comes from cornstarch or wheat starch, which have been broken down by enzymes into a solution of glucose that is very sweet. As it is used as a sugar replacement, it has grown in popularity among Keto dieters and low carb individuals.
It is also added to many sweet products that you consume, such as chewing gum, flavored jam, ice cream, and grain based desserts such as sweets and cookies. The body also absorbs it very easily, and almost 90% of it is removed through urine.
The reasons it is widely popular include:
- Its lack of calories, which is good news if you are trying to get your weight in check but do not want to expose yourself to the dangers of sugar.
- It does not make the blood levels of glucose spike, which makes it very good if you happen to be diabetic but still want to enjoy your sweet treats
- There are some studies that show it improves your oral health by reducing plaque and teeth browning
- It has a very high rate of moisture retention compared to other sugar alcohols, and this helps to control bacteria that are tooth decay culprits
- It adds texture and bulk to food, which improves its overall quality
Possible side effects
There is nothing that does not have negative aspects, no matter how good it seems – and erythritol is no exception. The good news is that unlike other sugar alcohols, it will not cause numerous problems, except probably the digestive system to some extent.
Some people who have taken it report certain issues which include gas, uncomfortable rumbling of the stomach, and gas. These occur mostly when it is ingested in large amounts though – it is a rarity when you consume it in small amounts.
Because of its water retention ability, there is a possibility is can lead to accumulation of water in the intestines, which can lead to diarrhea – especially when you ingest it with fructose.
Is the substance safe when you are on a low carb, sugar-free or Keto diet?
All these diets have something in common – the reduction of the carbs you care consuming. Because of this, they force the body to turn into burning fat instead of carbs, especially in the case of the Keto diet. This results in significant loss of weight and better health in general.
There are times you might crave something sweet, so sugar alcohols are there to solve it. They have less calories compared to sucrose, and erythritol specifically has zero calories to deal with – so you have the opportunity to eat it in your treats and still maintain a low carb diet. This makes it safe to use when you are on these diets, and it has limited side effects because the human body tolerates it very well.
Tips for its use
The exact ratios you will use for your foods will really depend on your individual tastes, as the sweetener has 70% of the sweetening power of regular sugar. Just ensure that it stays within the maximum limit of 18 grams per day – anything more than that, and you are setting yourself up for a carb overdose.
The substance mostly comes in the form of granules or a powder, which you can use in different circumstances depending on your desired end result. If you want a crunchy effect in your baked goods, for instance, you use the granular form.
When using it in cooking, keep in mind that the substance will tend to burn easily compared to sugar or other sugar alcohols. Since this is the case, you will need to closely monitor the temperatures of your oven as well as the cooking or baking time, so that the outcome is not an undesirable one.
If you happen to be allergic to wheat or corn, then you will need to introduce erythritol to your diet very slowly and with the medical advice of your doctor, to prevent nasty cases of side effects.
The general consensus here is that sugar substitutes will have their own controversial elements, so you must weigh their benefits and disadvantages. However, erythritol is among the best you can find, as it does not have numerous side effects.