Sugar Substitutes – Should You Use Them?
With low carb diets becoming more and more popular many people are looking for ways to decrease their sugar intake. A promising solution seems to be sugar substitutes. Potentially, providing you with fewer carbs – or even none- they appear to be the perfect alternative to regular sugar. But are they really?
What are sugar substitutes?
A sugar substitute is anything that you use instead of sugar to add sweetness to your drinks or foods. This includes artificial sweeteners (i.e. sucralose), sugar alcohols (i.e. sorbitol) and natural sweeteners (i.e. stevia). Here are the pros and cons of some of the sugar substitutes available:
Stevia – what’s it really made of?
Stevia is plant that originates from South America. From its leaves we get concentrated substances known as steviol glycosides that are 200 – 400 times sweeter than sugar and are used in Stevia- based sweeteners. Stevia sweeteners are considered non-nutritive sweeteners because they provide negligible amounts of calories.
Depending on the type of Stevia sweetener you use, the steviol glycosides can be combined with either dextrose/maltodextrin (carbs) or erythritol (sugar alcohol). So, if you have diabetes you should be aware that if you’re using this sweetener often during your day, the carbs could add up. Furthermore, since sugar alcohols are a type of FODMAP*, Stevia sweeteners with erythritol could cause digestive symptoms (i.e. bloating) for certain people.
Stevia sweeteners are available in powder, granulated, and liquid form, so you can choose which form suits your needs best. The amount that you will need for your recipe will depend on the form of Stevia that you use so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are using it for baking, then be aware that it might give your food a licorice aftertaste, which you won’t taste in our Cheesecake Fat Bombs.
Sucralose – can you use it to bake?
Sucralose is made by chemical alteration of a sugar molecule. Since, our body cannot break it down we do not get any calories from it. The most common sucralose-based sweetener is Splenda. The type of Splenda sweetener you use (i.e. Brown sugar blend vs. Granulated) will determine the amount that you will need to add in your recipe. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Keep in mind that if you are baking with SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated, your baked goods will need less time in the oven (i.e. bake cookies for 3-5 mins shorter and cakes 7- 10 mins shorter). And if you need some inspiration – you can try our Pear- Cranberry Crisp.
Sugar alcohols – remember they’re a FODMAP
Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate. They can be found naturally in foods (e.g. fruits), but can also be added to foods commercially (e.g. chewing gum). Since, they are not well absorbed by our gut they provide you with fewer calories than sugar. But before you get too excited keep in mind that they are a type of FODMAP, and so they may cause gastrointestinal symptoms in certain people.
*FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates that are partly responsible for causing symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For more info, read this article.