Sugar alcohol is a popular ingredient in sugar-free foods, and it occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables—better known as polyols. To see if a food product contains sugar alcohols look for erythritol, glycerol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, malitol, mannitol, sorbitol, or xylitol. They’re the “healthy” alternative for artificial sweeteners like HFCS and sucralose. Dr. Luke Bucci, vice president of research at Schiff Nutrition says, “Sugar alcohols can be metabolized into energy, but they don’t trigger an insulin response because absorption of glucose and caloric sugars is slowed in their presence.” The caloric range for sugar alcohol is 0-3 calories per gram compared to regular sugar, which clocks in at 4 calories per gram. This also notes the “net carbs” on the wrapper of protein bars; net carbs signify the amount of calorie-containing carbs. The equation for it: total carbs – fiber – sugar alcohol = net carbs.
Over consuming sugar alcohol such as chowing down on several protein bars can cause an upset stomach. The benefit of sugar alcohols: they don’t cause tooth decay compared to artificial sweeteners and regular sugar.
So if you’re looking for a “healthy alternative,” try Lite and Sweet.