(Low-Carb High-Quality) – La Dolce Vita – and that without carbohydrates and sugar? What do polyvalent alcohols have in common with the sweet side of life? No, you’re not going to drink some booze, but consume the fewest possible amount of calories and carbohydrates – for example, if you eat low-carb.

In a lot of different foods, from beverages to ice cream to chewing gum, they will support you. However, how exactly?

Note: The terms sweeteners and sugar substitutes will be used synonymously in order to take account of the general usage of language and slang.
From a legal and food point of view, they are two different things.
Sweeteners are basically synthetic while sugar substitutes are of natural origin.

Polyvalent Alcohols: Sweet, But Not Always Edible

Already tried to toast with polyvalent alcohol? Only in terms of chemical structure are polyvalent alcohols (polyols) in the same category as the drinkable alcohol ethanol, which can be recognized by the oxygen / hydrogen groups (-OH). Sugar alcohols have the formula H (HCHO) n + 1H, while real sugars look like H(HCHO)nHCO.

Despite the similarity, polyvalent alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol but carbohydrates, so like proteins and fats they are base nutrients. However, unlike other carbohydrates, the low-calorie polyvalent alcohols are only slowly or incompletely absorbed by the body.

Polyvalent alcohols show two or three of the mentioned groups. (Source & link: chemiezauber.de ).

One of them is glycol (ethane-1,2-diol), which tastes sweet but is highly poisonous (as in gly, from the Greek glykys = sweet). Because its melting point is below that of water, glycol is used as frost protection. Glycol irritates eyes and respiratory tracts and damages organs such as kidneys, heart and lungs – already 1.4 ml / kg body weight are fatal.

Glycerol (propane-1,2,3-triol), which is often present in nature in vegetable and animal fats, is also a polyvalent alcohol, but non-toxic. Its hygroscopic (water-binding) effect keeps creams, tobacco, printing inks and toothpaste nicely moist.

In contact, skin and eye irritation may occur, but swallowed amounts of up to 50 ml are harmless – a substance that is popular in cosmetics and food production. Thus, polyvalent alcohols bind water molecules excellently, while classical alcohol (ethanol) removes water from the tissue.

Sugar Substitutes: A Who-Is-Who

“Sugar free” or “Without sugar”? If your cookie pack or your fitness bar claims this, the chance is high that they contain polyvalent alcohols or sugar alcohols! But: polyvalent alcohols are sweeteners (sugar substitutes), but not all sweeteners are also polyvalent alcohols – such as aspartame or saccharin.

Clearly containing less calories than sugar, polyvalent alcohols rise your blood glucose level much less than other carbohydrates. Because your metabolism utilizes them insulin-independent. Which polyvalent alcohols exists? In the EU, these eight sugar substitutes are approved (Source: http://www.verbraucherzentrale-sachsen.de/mehrwert-alkohole):

    • sorbitol (E 420)
    • mannitol (E 421)
    • isomalt (E 953)
    • maltitol (E 965)
    • lactitol (E 966)
    • xylitol (E967)
    • erythritol (E 968)
  • polyglycitol syrup (E 964)

A table showing calorie content, sweetening power and typical product examples can be found here: (Link:)

Sugar Alcohol = Sugar Alcohol? Particularities

Polyvalent alcohols are of a plant-based natural origin. Like sorbitol, which you can find in fruits such as rowan berries or stone fruits. The white, crystalline powder is industrially derived from cornstarch and is transformed into fructose (fruit sugar) by your body; furthermore, it’s a base ingredient for the production of ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Or mannitol, a hexavalent alcohol, found in dried sieve juice from South European flowering ashes. A (almost) perfect sugar replacement in general is xylitol (also Birch sugar), a sugar alcohol already discovered in 1890. It is isolated from wood chips.

However, your body also produces xylitol – while your liver is degrading carbohydrates! In its sweetness, xylitol and sugar come pretty close, but xylitol has about 40 percent fewer calories. Are you a diabetic? Then your insulin level is not impressed by this multivalent alcohol. Before your dog, however, you should hide edibles that contain xylitol – the animal misses the enzymes that are needed to break down this sweetener.

And erythritol? It is produced by microbial changes of carbohydrates, supported by special fungi – and it looks like household sugar, but is not quite so sweet. Ideal for your reduction diet, because your body doesn’t metabolize erythritol.

The Logi method also recommends polyvalent alcohols – at a reasonable dosage, while discouraging refined sugars, but allowing small amounts of natural honey and maple syrup.

Polyvalent Alcohols: Advantages at a Glance

Polyvalent alcohols are not only containing less calories (or are even calorie free) than sugar, but are also preserve your teeth, whether you are cleaning your teeth or enjoy sweets like chewing gums. Unlike sugars, the bacteria in your mouth do not convert multivalent alcohols into aggressive acids – and therefore also multiply less.

Most importantly, they will help you effectively if you want to lose weight or prevent weight gain (Source: ). They also contain only a few carbohydrates, which makes your blood glucose level happy! How the consumption of polyvalent alcohols affects this can be checked with special sticks on the urine.

Alternatively, you can use a digital meter to check your blood. Polyvalent alcohols as sweeteners provide a delicious sweet taste for food, tea and coffee, but without causing some extra fat deposits – try it for yourself!

Are There Any Disadvantages?

Before you decide on a product with a reduced calorie content that is often more expensive, take a look at the label: How nutritious is it? A lot of foods that contain polyvalent alcohols or sweeteners are still full of carbohydrates, fat and calories.

Maybe your product exists with sugar? Compare whether the sugar-free variant is viable at all. Satisfied with the result? Then you should also consider that polyvalent alcohols function as “laxatives” when you enjoy too much of it – with flatulence or diarrhea. Anything that contains more than 10 percent of sugar alcohols must bear this reference.

Reason: Our digestive organs cannot completely utilize polyvalent alcohols and therefore react with complications on the attempt to decompose the sugar alcohol inside the intestines. How much sweetener are allowed? Well, as a rule of thumb three protein bars a day are a little bit too much!

Nevertheless, everyone reacts differently to polyvalent alcohols (some even react allergic!). What types of polyvalent alcohols are added in a product is often just being mentioned as an e-number on the pack – unless you are dealing with a special low-carb product.

Does Sweeteners Cause Weight Gain?

Sugar-free chewing gums have the reputation of stimulating the appetite. And there are actually people who drink dietary soft drinks and other products, but gain weight. Studies suggest defective neurotransmitters, a wrong regulation of the glucose level or liver problems as possible causes (source: ).

Fact is – most of us love sweets, sometimes even developing a burning ravenous hunger for them. Why? Simple sugars go directly into the blood stream and spoil us with the happiness hormone dopamine. Some US long-term studies have shown that people who often use non-caloric sweeteners must expect negative effects on blood pressure, glucose metabolism, kidneys, blood vessels, and heart.

At the University of Texas, the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA) specifically investigated the relationship between diet consumption and waist circumference among seniors. 749 Americans, aged 65 and older, were accompanied for nine years. (Source: J Am Geriatr Soc 2015).

Result: The waist circumference increased from 65 onwards (with 80 years constant) – three times more than in test subjects who abstained from dietary soda; furthermore, the most pronounced results were among men. The study, unfortunately, was not decisive in the most important aspect: How did this increase come about?

Ravenous hunger on calorie rich food can only be assumed, because the number of calories the subjects consumed overall was unfortunately not checked by the study.

NetCarbs: A Guide for the Calculation!

“NetCarbs” are written on your low-carb product – and means the chargeable net carbohydrates. What do protein bars or shakes contain? This is how you calculate the NetCarbs: Assume your food contains 20 grams of carbohydrates. If you subtract 15 g of polyvalent alcohols, 5 g of carbohydrates can be charged net – these are the NetCarbs.

In the case of sugar-free chewing gum, net is often the same as gross, for example, 70 percent carbohydrate made out of 70 percent polyvalent alcohol. But your calculation is not always as smooth as this, for example: your bar weighs 35 g and contains 7.9 g carbohydrates, which is 0.4 g sugar and 6.6 g polyvalent alcohols – where are the remaining 0.9 g? Possibly fiber from grain.

By the way, a second method subtracts polyvalent alcohols, which are not completely absorbed, only by half and proportional to the caloric content.

Nutritional Value Labeling: See Which Polyvalent Alcohols Are Present

Food producers must identify the total content of carbohydrates on the package, the sugar alcohols are among them. In terms of consumer protection and healthy nutrition, nutrition labeling according to the EU Food Information Regulation (LIMV) is compulsory. How much sugar is in yoghurt or is there any sugar at all?

Since December 13, 2016, the last part of the EU-LMIV was implemented in the form of a table that is a statutory duty (so far, only for products with nutritional or health-promoting effects such as “sugar-free” or “rich in vitamin C”). Data must relate to 100 grams or 100 milliliters of a food – and must show the so-called Big 7:
In addition to the calorific value (kJ / kcal), fat quantities, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins, salts and sugars, it is now also possible to specify the percentage of recommended daily quantity (reference quantity) in a product. Certain products, such as tea, chewing gum or sucralose (Splenda) are exempt from this regulation. (Source & Link: ).

Manufacturers are now also able to accurately identify ingredients such as simple and polyunsaturated fatty acids, but also polyvalent alcohols, starch and dietary fibers in the nutrition table. You buy online? Online retailers also have to present all data clearly or in a supplementary table (source: ).

Conclusion: Slim and Fit With Sugar Alcohol

You want to enjoy sweets without the fear of weight gain through carbohydrates? Then you can make products with sugar substitutes a part of your diet plan! Products with sweeteners, such as polyvalent alcohols, are beneficial in terms of health and weight loss, if they contain fewer calories than other carbohydrates.

However, none of the numerous studies has been able so far to provide convincing arguments in order to prove the health risks of sweeteners. On the contrary, studies, e.g. on rats, found that xylitol reduces blood glucose levels and blood fat levels. At the same time, the glucose tolerance increases so that the pancreas are able to produce more insulin (Study & Link: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov )

Diabetic products with fructose, sorbitol and xylitol thus increase the blood sugar far less than normal sugars. Nevertheless, low-calorie foods are not everything. In the first place, fitness means keeping the balance – and a conscious and purposeful nutrition!

However, polyvalent alcohols can help if the desire for sweets becomes overwhelming.


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