Are you on a low-carb or low-sugar diet to lose weight?
Well you might be surprised to learn that many of the low carb, low sugar foods that you are eating are actually quite high in carbs and sugar! Unfortunately, misleading, and downright deceptive, labels and advertising claims have made it quite challenging to know what foods are truly low in carbohydrate, sugar and calorie content.
But don’t despair!
I will show you that with just a little knowledge, you can safely navigate your way through grocery stores and product labels. After learning just some basic facts, you will be able to make healthy choices so you can start seeing and feeling results you want immediately.
The #1 Rule: Never automatically believe the label claims!
Ignore the flashy claims splashed on the product label and go right to the ingredients list. You must ALWAYS read the label of something that is going into your body. This of course first requires that you know how to read a label, and then that you know what to look for, as well as what’s OK to include and what is not.
- “No Sugar Added”
- “Sugar Free”
- “Low Sugar”
- “Low Carb”
- “No Carb”
… are virtually meaningless and are completely nebulous at best. The fact is, they are on the label for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to get you to buy the item!
What about the term: “Net Carbs”?
Please don’t be fooled by the term: “net carbs”, which is essentially a joke.
Many food manufacturers are able to claim “low carb/calorie/sugar” with their products by using the term “net carbs”, which involves using “sugar alcohols” in the product. The manufacturers claim the sugar alcohols in the ingredients do not “count”, and therefore may be subtracted from the total carb and calorie content, leaving you with the “net carbs” which of course are always significantly less total
carbs/sugars than the original food.
The problem is, SUGAR ALCOHOLS DO COUNT! In fact they count a heck of a lot as you shall see!
Understanding Sugar Alcohols
There are many different types of sugar. Some are made from real foods and some are synthetically manufactured in a laboratory.
In this article, I’m going to focus on one type of sugar substitute in particular, sugar alcohol; because it is becoming one of the most widely used replacements for sugar and is found in almost all “no sugar/low sugar/low carb” items such as sugar-free gum and protein/energy bars.
Commonly called sorbitol, mannitol and maltitol, sugar alcohols are substances that have a chemical structure that is half sugar and half alcohol, hence the term: “sugar alcohol”. They are produced by the fermentation of corn, wheat or potato starch into either a crystalline powder or syrup. This is what you have to understand: they are made from carbohydrates, therefore they are carbohydrates, and therefore, they have calories and are ultimately digested and assimilated like any other carbohydrate, into sugar or blood sugar/glucose.
And don’t think you’re saving calories by eating these foods either.
Sugar is 4 calories per gram and sugar alcohols are 2 or 3 calories per gram. Would you say that’s a huge calorie savings? Sure you’ll save some, but certainly not as much as many people seem to think as they dig in with wild abandon because…well, “it’s sugar-free” of course!.
Despite industry claims, sugar alcohols do impact your blood sugar. Although they are not completely absorbed, sugar alcohols raise blood sugar almost as much as sugar does. Here’s why: The glycemic index of sugar (which is how quickly it raises your blood sugar) is 60 and the glycemic index of sugar alcohol is 52! That’s pretty darn close wouldn’t you say?
And there’s more…
Due to the fact that they are not a real food substance found in nature, the body does not recognize sugar alcohols and therefore cannot properly digest and absorb them. This causes stress! for the digestive system and the symptoms of this distress are the lovely side-effects of gas, cramping, rumbling, bloating, diarrhea and upset stomach. What you are actually experiencing by these side effects is the fermentation of these substances in your stomach!
I Have a Sweet (and Healthy) Solution for You!
So what’s a person to do who just wants a sweet treat now and then?
Take heart. There are several healthy and tasty alternatives to sugar alcohols and sugar. One of my favorites is the natural herb, stevia.
Unlike most sugar substitutes which have only recently been manufactured and therefore the long-term implications of which are unknown, stevia has been used for centuries in South America as a sweetener. It was often used to counteract the many herbal medicines that had a bitter taste.
Stevia is 30x’s sweeter than sugar, with zero calories, zero impact on blood sugar and zero side effects. I think you will agree it’s a wonderful substitute on all counts and one that your tongue and your tummy will love!
So there you have it. I hope you can now enjoy your “Low carb” foods without unknowingly sabotaging your diet and physique goals!
For more information on sugar alcohols, sugar-free foods, the glycemic index and lowest sugar summer fruits, please see my June 29th Radio Show Clip: The “Sugar-Free” Scam!