Erythritol represents a sugar alternative from the class of sugar alcohols. Still, one might wonder whether or not erythritol is a friendly food for ketogenic diets. Read on to find out all you need to know about this low-carb sweetener.

• What Is Erythritol?
• Is Erythritol Keto?
• Are There Any Health Benefits?
• What Are the Side Effects?
• Erythritol and the Keto Diet

And if you are planning to enroll in a keto diet, cutting out carbs and sugar can seem a tedious task. Of course, you want to access all the benefits of a keto diet, but at the same time you might crave something sweet.

But sweets and desserts have the power to block ketosis, which will make your efforts to lose weight useless. Anyway, to tell you a secret, you can use healthy sugar alternatives to enjoy a small treat while on a keto diet. In this way, you won’t have to think about counting carbohydrates.

And erythritol is one of these alternatives. It has low-calorie content, and it is considered to be extremely low-carb sugar alcohol. Besides, it is up to three times sweeter than refined sugar, which is why keto dieters prefer it.

Read on to discover what erythritol is all about, how it can be included in a keto diet, what are its health benefits, risks, and drawbacks.

What is Erythritol?

So, erythritol represents a sugar alternative, a type of sugar alcohol. Even though its name contains the word sugar, erythritol is not a sugar or alcohol;

When compared to refined sugar, sugar alcohols don’t alter the blood sugar levels, and they don’t feature any ethanol (the common compound in drinking alcohol). And sugar alcohols are commonly known as polyols.

Anyway, erythritol was discovered more than 150 years ago, and it was used for commercial purposes starting from the 1990s.

It happens naturally in a small amount in a couple of fruits or fermented foods. Still, the commercial production of erythritol requires glucose fermentation ( mostly from corn) with the aid of yeast.

When it comes to sweetness, erythritol can have up to 70% of the sweet flavor of refined sugar. But the distinction is that erythritol doesn’t cause cavities or tooth decay.

Is Erythritol Keto?

Erythritol represents a great sugar replacement for keto diets.

It is received well in the digestive system, it can lead to only a couple of adverse effects, while it comes with zero net carbs. Besides, some research suggests that it might actually offer some health benefits, too.

What is even more interesting is that up to 90% of erythritol is eliminated unchanged from the body. So, skipping metabolization is what makes it an efficient low-calorie sugar substitute.

Back in 1994, a Japanese research team analyzed the effects of erythritol on blood glucose, insulin, and other factors. The results showed that erythritol didn’t impact glucose, insulin, cholesterol, triglycerides, or electrolytes in the body. Simply put: it is a keto-friendly sugar alternative due to the fact that it doesn’t alter the blood sugar or insulin levels.

Carbs, net carbs, and calories

The United States FDA classifies erythritol under the 0.2 calories per gram food category. This signifies that 100 grams of erythritol has only 20 calories. Anyway, other countries classify it as a zero-calorie sugar alternative.

The glycemic index or GI established how rapid your body can make glucose from a carb source. So, anything that is under 55 is categorized as a low-GI. The GI of erythritol is zero, which is why it is recommended for low-carb diets.

You should keep in mind that eating desserts or any sugar-based food can increase cravings and lead to addictive behavior. And studies reveal that opting for sugar alternatives can influence weight loss, and make it harder for people to stop old habits. This happens even though such sugar alternatives don’t impact blood sugar or insulin in the body. Specialists assume that artificial sweeteners can boost the possibility of experiencing a carb relapse. Moreover, it can make people extremely susceptible to sweets cravings.

But this doesn’t signify that you can’t use erythritol as a sugar alternative. It is best to use it with moderation, and to focus on adopting a healthier lifestyle. While on a keto diet, you can treat yourself from now and them with a dessert made with a sugar replacement. All you have to do is avoid consuming too much.

Are there any health benefits?

Did you know that some speculate xylitol has some health benefits? Well, besides being a sugar alternative suitable for low-carb diets, there are several ways in which erythritol can boost your overall health.

It supports oral health and prevents caries.

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, which has the power to prevent tooth decay. This is why it is commonly added in gums or any other sugar-free candies.

Erythritol suppresses the biofilm formation, a range of bacteria that thrives on teeth and gums. In some cases, biofilms can be a determinant factor for gingivitis, and lead to an unhealthy oral microbiome. Erythritol can aid in keeping your oral ecosystem balanced.

Several studies reveal that this sugar alternative is healthier than similar sugar alcohols such as sorbitol or xylitol.

One particular research discovered that erythritol is useful in diminishing plaque weight, harmful bacteria, and the number of caries in the oral cavity.

Still, having erythritol in your diet should not be considered a replacement for brushing and flossing. It is only a tool that supports proper oral health and might prevent several issues. Erythritol is only better for oral health when compared with refined sugar.

It has antioxidant properties.

Overeating refined sugar can boost oxidative stress. Hyperglycemia or high glucose levels result in issues with your metabolic system, which in turn can damage cells.

A cell can be repaired with the aid of antioxidants, and it appears that erythritol is part of this category, too.
The research discovered that erythritol has similar effects as antioxidants, and adding it to the diet can prevent free radical damage of red blood cells. Still, the same study discovered that it could alter cellular signaling.

It might aid with blood sugar and type 2 diabetes.

Some specialists believe erythritol is efficient for those suffering from insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.

A study was done during 12 weeks on several type 2 diabetes patients showed promising results. It was observed that 15 to 20 grams of erythritol administered daily could lead to lower blood sugar levels, along with less insulin resistance.

Rats with type 2 diabetes experienced some decrease of symptoms after regular intake of erythritol. Some of these include less frequent gastric emptying, lower absorption rate of glucose in the small intestine, or bettered muscle glucose uptake.

It supports intestinal health.

Erythritol has little to no impact on gut health. Simply put: it doesn’t have similar effects to the majority of sugar alternatives, as it isn’t metabolized into other sugars or sugar alcohols. As such, it can support intestinal health.

Erythritol can aid in colon hydration, it can shield the intestinal tissue, and it can even detox the colon from harmful organisms.

It might suppress appetite.

Because erythritol can diminish the gastric emptying rate, it might aid in lowering the glycemic index, too. This means it keeps blood sugar levels at a minimum, as it decreases the release rate of sugar into the blood. Also, it promotes an overall feeling of satiety, which results in less cravings and a lower appetite.

What are the side effects?

There are some studies that show that erythritol is safe for almost all people. It is different than other sugar alcohols, as it is less prone to lead to stomach issues or laxative effects:

• A healthy adult can consume without safety concerns up to 1 gram per kilogram, as it won’t cause adverse reactions. It represents around 68 grams for a 150-pound person, mainly suggesting you won’t eat that much erythritol with one meal.

• A smaller study showed that a 15-gram intake was tolerated ok by kids ( this is around 730 milligrams per kilogram).

Also, gastrointestinal problems represent an unusual adverse effect with erythritol. Still, it might happen if it is mixed with fructose. When using erythritol as a sugar alternative, you should avoid fructose.

At first glance, erythritol seems extremely safe, but, of course, some potential side effects might occur.

In rare cases, people experienced an allergic reaction to erythritol. Moreover, there is a specific medical case in which a child went into anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction in which the airways are temporarily blocked) due to erythritol consumption. Thus, if you or someone experience allergy symptoms, such as wheezing, after ingesting erythritol, you should seek emergency medical help.

Another documented case, a person had a mild inflammatory reaction that led to urticaria. This isn’t a life-threatening adverse reaction, but it is still quite uncomfortable to deal with. If this happens to you, you should remove erythritol from your diet and ask for medical advice.

It is true that most likely erythritol is safe for pregnant ladies, it is best to avoid it, as there is no sufficient scientific evidence to support such claims.

Erythritol as a factor for heart disease and fat gain

The research found that an increased amount of erythritol in the body might lead to heart disease and fat gain.
As a study was done on metabolomes discovered, more than 3600 people in over 30 years had an indicator of erythritol that suggested an increase in the risk associated with heart disease. The metabolome is like a fingerprint for the metabolic processes in the body, which is why it can provide a lot of information about health.

Other studies done on first-year college students suggested that they will experience weight gain by the end of the year. As such, high erythritol is linked with decreased insulin sensitivity.

Erythritol and the ketogenic diet

Erythritol is an excellent addition to keto diets. It comes with little to no adverse effects, while it has no calories and zero carbohydrate content.

It is distinct from other sugar alcohols, as it doesn’t increase blood sugar of insulin. Besides, in most situations, it doesn’t lead to digestive issues, such as gas or diarrhea.

Still, if you want to add erythritol to your diet, it is best to check the ingredients featured on the package. As a general rule, erythritol must be the only compound, which is why you should avoid products that have dextrose or maltodextrin. These can boost blood sugar levels.

Of course, if you are looking for all-natural sugar alternatives, you can opt for either stevia, or monk fruit. And if you don’t enjoy the aftertaste of erythritol, it is safe to blend it with stevia. Stevia improves its taste by disabling the cooling effect. Erythritol can prevent the bitter aftertaste of stevia.

The link between erythritol and keto

Always remember that sugar addiction is a severe condition that requires small steps to overcome it. So, if you are starting a keto diet, it might be best to remove all sugar sources entirely.

And this is recommended because even low-carb sugar alternatives can influence brain receptors and promote cravings, which will make it harder to resist sugar snacks.

As soon as you deal with your sugar addiction, erythritol can be an efficient solution as a sugar replacement.

Author's Bio: 

Anna Mariset is a holistic medicine practitioner who is always out looking for what's best for ones health. Her life long passion for healthy living has gotten her writing for others.