Making the Case to Count Sugar Alcohols
Please note: This information comes from countcarbs.com. The site is being upgraded and the article can not be found at this time. http://countcarbs.com/advice/making_the_case.htm
The Atkins Diet has been with us since the 1970's. Over the years many changes have come along - more vegetables, more salads, changes to artificial sweetener options, limiting caffeine, etc. - all for the better.
One major change, appears to be for the worse...that is the introduction of sugar alcohols as "acceptable" and "deductible" from total carbs for carbohydrate intake during Induction.
In the article "To Count or Not to Count?" we offer a few different ways you may want to count these polyols. However, during Induction on Atkins, not using these products and/or counting them completely minus only the fiber they contain is what we recommend for your greatest potential for losing weight during your first two weeks.
It is during your first two weeks that you'll measure your capacity to lose weight. Including polyols (sugar alcohols, glycerin, etc.) may reduce your losses significantly (or stall your efforts completely) so you will not have an accurate measure of your "resistance" to weight loss. Without knowing it - because you have included polyols in your daily eating - you may lose less than you could if you didn't eat any of these products and may even think - due to poor results - that you're more resistant than you really are to losing weight.
What prompted Atkins' Nutritionals to include polyols where they once forbid them?
For one thing, by 2002, Atkins had a growing line of products - as did a number of manufacturers in the market using sugar alcohols and glycerin. Within 2002 there was also the research specifically into Atkins and weight-loss with results to be released in the summer - results Atkins and others had to know was going to be positive.....imagine the potential of these products with more people paying attention to low-carb eating and finally buying-in to the idea that limiting sugars/starches results in weight-loss?
In the 1998 version of the book, Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, it states:
"Sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol and other hexitols (sugar alcohols) are not allowed, nor are any natural sweeteners ending in the letters -ose, such as maltose, fructose, etc."
Where in the 2002 version this was eliminated and the recommendation now read: ..."Although it is important that you eat primarily unprocessed foods, some controlled carb food products can come in handy when you are unable to find appropriate food, can?t take time for a meal or need a quick snack. More and more companies are creating healthy food products that can be eaten during the Induction phase of Atkins."
Where prior to 2002 Atkins' specifically restricted any use by those on Induction of these ingredients - they were now allowed in the 2002 revision.....there was no new science to show properties of the ingredients to suggest they should be dismissed as having a carb value to count. The only real change going on was that Atkins Nutritionals and other companies (like EAS, Think Thin, etc.) were all growing their lines of controlled-carb products.
This at the same time the FDA was clamping down on the labeling practice that was growing within the controlled-carb food industry - that is they were not even listing any carbs from sugar alcohol ingredients like maltitol or glycerin - the FDA clamped down and mandated the carbs must be included in the label since they are in there!
With the mandated requirement that these companies had to include the carbs for glycerin & sugar alcohols - so too came the new explanation as to why they don't count - that one was allowed to deduct them because they did not impact blood sugar levels.
But the logic used to dismiss the carbs doesn't hold up.....we're told these ingredients don't impact blood sugar significantly -- so what? Neither do the carbs in green vegetables, nuts, seeds, cantaloupe, cherries, etc......the carbs from all of these foods are counted so why aren't the carbs in these products counted? Do they have a magical property about them, like no calories? No. Do they pass through the body like fiber? No. Do they not get used for energy? No. Do they not turn into some form of glucose? No.
Impact on blood sugar is NOT how we decide to count or not count a carb! Low impact on blood sugar is what low glycemic-index and low glycemic-load choices do - and they are still counted. Low-carb eating revolves around making your best choices from those things that are low glycemic-index and low glycemic-load -- but the carbs still count!
Overall these products are "controlled-carb" products - that is they offer a unique taste without impacting blood sugar (in most people) -- but they have carbs in them -- and the manufacturers have created a smokescreen to try to convince us that they don't count, even though other low-carb items must be counted!
If a carb is metabolized, it needs to be counted - period.
There is no unique property to a sugar alcohol or to glycerin that makes it indigestible or not metabolized.....the body doesn't dismiss it, why should we when we're counting carbs?
Fiber isn't metabolized - not only does it not impact blood sugar, it also isn't digested by the body - it doesn't count.
Can the same be said for sugar alcohols or glycerin? NO.....both are metabolized in the body - they may not impact blood sugar, but they are metabolized - you cannot exclude the carbs in there because they are in there and they do get metabolized.
Many of the protein & candy bars out there have upwards of 20g of carbs when you include the sugar alcohols or glycerin - typically 200-240 calories also. They also typically have 1g to 2g of fiber - leaving upwards of 18g of carbs that you're told to dismiss.....for convenience? for a meal replacement? because it doesn't impact blood sugar? Does this make sense to you when you really think about it?????
If you chose instead to have a 1/2 cup of cantaloupe, wouldn't you count the 6g net carbs it has? Why? They're there! They aren't going to send your blood sugars spiraling up, but you count them because they're there!
The choice about counting the carbs that are in these products is still your choice - but forewarned is fairwarned!
Posted by Debby, September 4, 2003