The Worst Sugar Alcohol for Weight Loss

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/12/2024

Sugar alcohols are often marketed as healthier alternatives to regular sugar, but do they live up to this claim?

While some sugar alcohols don't impact blood sugar and insulin levels, others can significantly spike blood glucose, making them unsuitable for individuals who are trying to lose weight.

Discover why you should avoid maltitol and learn about sweetening alternatives such as erythritol, stevia, and monk fruit.

Sugar Alcohols and Their Impact on Weight Loss

Sugar alcohols are a common ingredient in low-calorie, sugar-free foods.

Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, are carbs that partially resemble sugar and alcohol.

They're found naturally in some fruits and vegetables or manufactured for use in food products like chocolate bars as reduced-calorie sweeteners.

Unlike regular sugars, your body doesn't completely absorb most of these compounds, resulting in fewer calories being consumed.

How Do They Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

The impact of different types of sugar alcohols on blood glucose levels varies. Some have little effect, while others may cause significant spikes depending on how much is consumed.

  • Xylitol: With a glycemic index of 13, this one has minimal impact on blood glucose levels compared to table sugar, which sits at 65.

  • Erythritol: This one has a zero glycemic index score, making it one of the best options for diabetics or anyone trying to keep their blood sugars steady.

  • Maltitol: This one comes with a high glycemic index score of 52. It's almost equivalent to eating white bread when it comes down to spiking your insulin response.

The Worst Sugar Alcohol - Maltitol

Not all sugar alcohols are equal; maltitol, for example, can be particularly detrimental to weight loss due to its high GI rating of 52, indicating that it can significantly impact blood sugar and insulin levels.

Why Is Maltitol Bad For Weight Loss?

Maltitol has a high glycemic index (GI) of 52.

The glycemic index measures how quickly foods cause blood sugar levels to rise after eating them. Foods with higher GI scores prompt a quicker and more pronounced increase in blood glucose levels than those with lower GI values.

High GI foods can cause the body to store excess fat rather than burn it for energy, thus hindering weight loss efforts. Moreover, these spikes often result in crashes later on, making you feel hungry again sooner and potentially causing overeating.

Common Foods Containing Maltitol

Maltitol is regularly seen in a lot of "sugar-free" or "no added sugar" items as it offers sweetness without the same amount of calories compared to regular table sugar.

However, due to its impact on blood glucose levels, this makes it less ideal for those looking for healthier sweetening alternatives while losing weight.

Malitol is commonly found in foods such as:

  • Sugar-free chocolates

  • Diet bars

  • Sugar-free candies

Artificial Sweeteners To Avoid

Trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy gut? Beware of certain artificial sweeteners like Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), Saccharin (Sweet'n Low), and Sucralose (Splenda).

These sweeteners can lead to insulin resistance and other health issues, derailing your weight loss efforts.


Aspartame, commonly found in diet sodas and sugar-free products, has been subject to controversy due to its potential health risks.

Studies suggest that aspartame might increase blood glucose levels, contributing to insulin resistance - a condition where cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin, leading eventually to type 2 diabetes.


Saccharin is another artificial sweetener often used in low-calorie or "sugar-free" foods.

Despite being around for over a century, research suggests saccharin may negatively alter gut bacteria balance, potentially leading to obesity and other metabolic disorders.

Moreover, some studies indicate that consuming large amounts of saccharin could cause bladder cancer, although more research is needed on this topic.


Although widely consumed, sucralose is not without its drawbacks.

Research indicates sucralose can significantly affect our gut microbiota - the community of beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract.

A study published in the journal PLOS ONE revealed that sucralose consumption altered gut microflora and inhibited beneficial bacteria growth even after stopping intake for several weeks.

This imbalance can lead not only to digestion problems but also impact immune function since much of our immunity originates from the gut.

Sugar Alternatives That Won't Hinder Weight Loss

If you want to reduce your sugar intake or sustain balanced blood glucose levels, there's no need to forgo sweetness altogether.

There are several natural alternatives available that won't sabotage your diet or put your health at risk.

Here are three sugar-free sweeteners:


Erythritol is a sugar alcohol naturally found in fruits like grapes and peaches.

It's 70% as sweet as sugar but contains virtually no calories and doesn't affect blood glucose levels. Plus, it won't give you the same digestive issues as other sugar alcohols like maltitol.


Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia plant.

It's up to 200 times sweeter than sugar but has zero calories and doesn't raise blood sugar levels. Some studies suggest stevia may have health benefits like reducing inflammation and lowering high blood pressure.

Monk Fruit

Monk fruit extract comes from a small melon-like fruit grown in southern China.

It's up to 250 times sweeter than sugar but has no calories and won't affect your insulin levels. Plus, it contains antioxidants called mogrosides that may have additional health benefits.


Artificial sweeteners like maltitol, aspartame, and saccharin are linked to health risks, and it's best to opt for natural sweeteners such as erythritol, stevia, or monk fruit instead.

These alternatives have zero glycemic index ratings and are rich in antioxidants, making them a healthier choice for satisfying your sweet tooth.


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