Benefits and Side Effects of Maltitol on Ketogenic Diet

If you are following any variation of the keto diet, you are probably very aware that you are not supposed to eat any sugars, as well as most carbohydrates.  In fact, the idea behind the entire diet is for you to ingest smaller amounts of carbohydrates, while eating more of the healthy fats, topped off with a good amount of protein.

Does this mean that you are no longer able to enjoy the sweet foods that you love if you want to continue to maintain ketosis?

While you may think so, the answer is actually not necessarily.  Of course, regular table sugar is a huge no-no and not quite on the list of approved foods while on the keto diet as it will very quickly throw your body out of its state of ketosis.

However, there are some substitutes that you can use in place of sugar that will fulfill your sweetness cravings, but without spiking your blood sugar levels.  One of those substitutes is known as maltitol.

So what Exactly is Maltitol?

Maltitol is actually a sugar alcohol that is often times used as a sugar substitute and sweetener.  

Naturally found in different types of vegetables and fruits, sugar alcohols can be easily manufactured by adding additional hydrogen atoms to maltose.  Maltose is one of the sugars that can be found in certain types of starchy foods.

While not being quite as sweet as regular sugar is, sugar alcohols such as maltitol also do not carry the amount of calories that regular sugar does.  This makes them a great substitute for regular sugar, and they can be used instead of sugar for most types of food, including candy and various baked goods, as well as being used to help keep foods moist.

Maltitol, although it is extremely low in calories compared to regular sugar, is not actually considered to be a traditional kind of sugar.  In fact, it is actually considered to be a form of carbohydrate, and only contains 2.1 calories for each gram, as compared to a gram of sugar, which carries 4 calories.

On top of that, maltitol also packs just 60g of net carbs for every 100 grams.  While maltitol doesn’t really pack any type of nutritional value, it has become valuable in sweetening different types of foods without contributing to the high sugar content that comes with regular sugar.

When compared to regular sugar on the glycemic index, maltitol is only at 52, while regular table sugar comes in at a whopping 60.  If that isn’t a big enough difference, when in its powdered form, the glycemic index drops all the way down to just 35. While that is much lower than regular sugar, there are actually other sugar alcohols that are even lower than that, as well as some artificial sweeteners as well.

Does That Mean Maltitol is Keto-Friendly?

Even though maltitol may have far less calories than regular table sugar, it is also considered to be a high glycemic index food.  This means that if you do substitute maltitol into some of your foods, it will cause an increase in your blood sugar levels and potentially take your body out of ketosis, hence ruining all of your hard work to get into a ketosis state.

Since maltitol is actually a carbohydrate, it is not a very keto-friendly substitute, but you can still use if instead of regular table sugar if you really need to.  But in order to do this successfully, you will have to pay attention and make sure that your total net carb intake stays under control and in optimal levels.

You will even occasionally see maltitol being used as a type of sugar substitute in a lot of the low-carb protein powders, meal replacements, and even in baked goods to help keep the calorie count down.

What are the Benefits of Maltitol?

One of the best benefits of using maltitol over regular table sugar is that it has a lower carb count, as well as fewer calories.

With regular sugar, it quickly starts to add up as most food products that can be found on the store shelves typically contain lots of sugar.  While this can become an excess amount of sugar, when foods use a sugar substitute, such as maltitol, it helps to eliminate some of the unnecessary sugars that are consumed.

Another one of the benefits that many have found when substituting with maltitol is that there is no unpleasant or odd aftertaste that many of the artificial sweeteners have.  This is also another one of the reasons why maltitol will be used over artificial sweeteners. In a lot of food products and beverages, which do contain some type of artificial sweetener, such as sucralose or aspartame, there will be a weird aftertaste that is off-putting to a lot of people.

With maltitol, there is no weird aftertaste that you need to worry about.

One of the other advantages in incorporating maltitol into your regular diet regimen instead of regular sugar, is that maltitol is not going to impact your teeth negatively.  It is no secret that eating too much sugar can help your teeth to rot faster. This is not the case when it comes to maltitol. Maltitol actually has negative side effects on teeth.  In fact, some of the other sugar alcohols are known to cause tooth decay or cavities, but maltitol doesn’t have any of that negative effect on your oral health.

On a side note, there are actually several different types of mouthwash, gum products and even toothpaste available on the market that does contain maltitol to help improve it’s taste, without having to sacrifice the optimal health of your mouth.

Does Maltitol Have Any Side Effects?

While using maltitol is definitely a better option than the use of regular table sugar, it does not make maltitol without its disadvantages.  In fact, there are several different side effects of using maltitol that you should be aware of prior to actually using maltitol.

As mentioned earlier in this article, maltitol is a carbohydrate.  While it does have its benefits, if you are on the keto diet or have been diagnosed with diabetes, you need to really keep it in mind that there is a carb content with maltitol.

And since there is also a glycemic index (even though it is lower than regular table sugar), there is going to be some type of impact on your blood glucose levels.  So again, if you are on the keto diet or have been diagnosed with diabetes, you will need to keep all this in mind and be sure that you always factor this into your daily carbohydrate total intake.

Maltitol also has the potential to cause you bloating, stomach discomfort, and even gas.  While it is more of a case-by-case basis, it has been documented that some people do get these symptoms while using maltitol.  And in some of the more severe cases, maltitol has even been known to cause bouts of diarrhea, as it can start to act similar to laxatives.

But again, the level of severity of the side effects is going to depend upon the individual person who is taking the maltitol, as well as how their body reacts with it, how much they have consumed, how long they have been consuming it, etc.

It is no secret that those on the keto diet are going to try their best to minimize and even eliminate the amount of sugar that they take in.  That is why maltitol has become so popular among them. It is a much better alternative to the regular sugar that non-keto dieters eat, and will help satisfy those sweet cravings that are going to inevitably happen.  

While a great substitute for regular table sugar, it is important to remember that maltitol is not going to be the absolute best alternative available.  This is due to the fact that it is actually a carbohydrate, and will increase your amount of net carbs, as well as add some calories as well. That is why it is best to use maltitol sparingly when you are craving something sweet.  It may even be a good idea to limit your intake of maltitol to a certain number of days per week. This way you will be able to enjoy it’s sweetness, but not ruin your state of ketosis which you have worked so long and hard to achieve.

At the end of the day, it is always best to do your best to make sure you read food labels to learn exactly how that particular food is sweetened.  This will allow you to know exactly what it in it, as well as stay in control of your total net carbohydrate consumption amount. Since being on the keto diet is about controlling the amounts of sugars and carbohydrates you are eating, this is always going to be the absolute best way to make sure you stay within your daily limits and are able to maximize your dieting efforts.

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