What is Sugar Alcohol?


I love chocolate.

I ate chocolate before I went low carb, and I still enjoy lots of chocolate now that I’m eating low carb. I buy all kinds (see photos lol), I just buy sugar free candy now instead.

If you look at the nutrition facts on sugar free candy & other foods, you’re probably asking yourself, “What is Sugar Alcohol?”

It’s a sugar substitute of course, and the scientific answer is a bit complicated. I recommend you read the Sugar Alcohol Wiki:

Sugar alcohols are usually incompletely absorbed into the blood stream from the small intestines which generally results in a smaller change in blood glucose than “regular” sugar (sucrose). This property makes them popular sweeteners among diabetics and people on low-carbohydrate diets.

To figure net carbs for sugar free candy & sweets, you subtract both the figer and the sugar alcohol.

In this case (right) you can see the total carbs are 24g per serving. When you subtract the fiber (2g) and the sugar alcohol (21g) you get 1 net carb per serving.


This was mini sugar free York Peppermint Patties, and the serving size was 3 pieces.

Trust me, you don’t really want to eat more than that at a time. For one, they’re very rich & sweet…

However, like many other incompletely digestible substances, overconsumption of sugar alcohols can lead to bloating, diarrhea and flatulence because they are not absorbed in the small intestine. Some individuals experience such symptoms even in a single-serving quantity.

Heh. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? πŸ˜›

In moderation, I have not had ANY stomach problems at all. Some people are more sensitive to sugar alcohol of course, so you’ll have to find out what your tolerance level is.

I will tell you this though. I discovered the sugar free peppermint patties at a small airport near Ft. Walton Beach, FL. It’s rare you find anything sugar free in airport shops, but this was a lucky find. The cashier was a diabetic and had noticed them, so she was able to point them out when I asked.

On my two connecting flights home that day, I ate the entire bag. On a plane. In a window seat. With pressurized air. Not a good idea. (enough said)

I wasn’t that impressed with the peanut butter cups. My absolute favorite sugar free candy so far is the Hershey’s Caramel Filled Chocolates (left).

In fact, I think I’m on my 5th bag of them now.


Note: Sugar alcohols do not contribute to tooth decay. πŸ˜€

About Lynn Terry

I love making the low carb diet EASY for people with a busy lifestyle (like me!) with my KISS / Keep It Simple method. :) About Lynn Terry: Host of the Low Carb Challenge
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5 Responses to What is Sugar Alcohol?

  1. Serena says:

    LOL – I overdid it once, too – learned my lesson! The other thing I would mention about sugar alcohols is that for some people there’s another type of sensitivity: the “net” carbs may not really be the number that counts. Apparently, the carbs from sugar alcohols affect some people’s blood sugar just like normal carbs would and so it may be difficult to lose weight if ingesting too much sugar alcohol. I think I’m one of those people – I love Atkins bars, for instance, but when I have one each day, I find I’m less likely to see a weight loss at the end of that week.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Interesting. I’ve heard similar issues about low carb bread from certain diabetics.

      I’m fortunate I haven’t had that issue, because I do love my sugar alcohol! πŸ™‚

      I like some of the Atkins bars too. Especially when I’m on the go – I usually keep at least one in my bag just in case I need a quick bite.

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