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5 Best Sugar Alternatives

The simplest but most powerful nutritional change a family can make is reducing sugar. As we show in our Nourish Masterclass, there’s a lot of evidence that diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates increase the risk for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, and contribute to problems in school, depression, and other mental health challenges.

The good news is that it’s easier than ever to kick sugar to the curb. There are now quite a few amazing alternative sweeteners on the market that work well in so many different treats. These days, we get to have our sugar-free cake and eat it too.

So, what makes a great sugar alternative?

First, it has to have as minimal an effect on blood sugar as possible. This effect is called glycemic impact. We want our sugar alternatives to not raise blood sugar at all. This would be a “zero glycemic impact.”

Second, we want it to be 100% safe, including not upsetting our kids’ (or our)  tummies. Many sugar alcohols like maltitol, can cause, uh, “digestive problems” when consumed even at suggested serving sizes.

Third, we want the sugar alternative to taste like sugar. Like, what’s the point of sweetening something if it has a bad aftertaste?

With all this in mind, we bring you our top five sugar alternatives:

1. Allulose

Hands down, it’s the best sugar alternative out there. It has practically ZERO impact on blood sugar because over 90% of it passes through our kidneys without being metabolized. This means that it has 95% fewer calories than sugar.

Studies show it’s totally safe and has little impact on tummies when consumed in normal amounts. What does this mean? For a 100 pound child, there shouldn’t be any GI issues with up to 18 grams of allulose consumed at a single time.

This product, with one of the highest allulose contents on the market, has 13 grams. Finally, allulose tastes like real sugar. It comes in granulated, powdered, and syrup forms. It really is the most sugar-like alternative sweetener on the market.

2. Erythritol

Definitely second place but it has its drawbacks. Erythritol has zero glycemic impact (most of it passes through the kidneys unmetabolized) and has been found to be very safe, even in large amounts.

In one study, 50 grams (!) consumed by young adults at one meal did cause some GI distress. But this is a level that no one would actually eat at one time. Most products containing erythritol are in the 5-20-gram range.

So, how does it taste? In chocolate bars, ice cream, and beverages, it tastes just like sugar. But erythritol has, what food scientists call a “cooling effect,” i.e., it feels cool on the tongue. This is great for cold things, but not so great for baked goods or hot chocolate.

3. Monk fruit

The natural food industry loves this one because it’s “natural.” But here at TFT, we just care about the science. It’s practically as processed as other alternative sweeteners like allulose and erythritol, and just as safe.

So, what we really care about is: glycemic impact (it’s zero; yay!), the potential for GI distress (extremely low; yay!), and taste. It’s hard to judge the taste of monk fruit because it’s almost always mixed with erythritol or stevia.

For example, the three most popular monk fruit sweeteners on the market (Lakanto, Splenda Monk Fruit, and Monk Fruit in the Raw) all have way more erythritol than monk fruit. These sweeteners work really well for many recipes, and they’re great zero-glycemic options. Just don’t expect to be consuming mostly monk fruit.

4. Stevia

This has long been the most popular “natural” sugar alternative. It’s still pretty popular as you can find it in sodas, chocolate, ice cream, and many other products. Like our first four sugar alternatives, stevia has zero glycemic impact and is quite safe.

The big issue with stevia is taste. Pure stevia extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar but it has an astringent after taste. Food engineers have been able to make stevia taste much better over the years but it’s still noticeably different from sugar.  

5. Xylitol

Last on the list for two reasons. First, it’s not zero glycemic. It’s very low (around 7 on a scale where straight glucose is 100), so it’s still a good sugar alternative.

Second, and more importantly, it can cause upset tummies at lower amounts than its sugar alcohol cousin, erythritol. It’s been shown to be quite safe, beneficial for dental health, and the taste is closer to sugar than erythritol, stevia, or monk fruit.

But it’s the potential GI distress that knocks this one down the list. If you see it listed in a product, give it a try but don’t overdo it.

5 Best Sugar Alternatives

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5 Best Sugar Alternatives

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but it also has some pretty great alternatives as well. Check out our favorite sugar alternatives here!

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Key takeaways

1

Avoiding sugar is an easy way to improve the metabolic health of the whole family

2

There are a lot of myths around what sort of alternative sweeteners are the best

3

The most important things to look for in alternative sweeteners are how much they raise blood sugar, how well they do on our tummies, and how good they taste

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The simplest but most powerful nutritional change a family can make is reducing sugar. As we show in our Nourish Masterclass, there’s a lot of evidence that diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates increase the risk for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, and contribute to problems in school, depression, and other mental health challenges.

The good news is that it’s easier than ever to kick sugar to the curb. There are now quite a few amazing alternative sweeteners on the market that work well in so many different treats. These days, we get to have our sugar-free cake and eat it too.

So, what makes a great sugar alternative?

First, it has to have as minimal an effect on blood sugar as possible. This effect is called glycemic impact. We want our sugar alternatives to not raise blood sugar at all. This would be a “zero glycemic impact.”

Second, we want it to be 100% safe, including not upsetting our kids’ (or our)  tummies. Many sugar alcohols like maltitol, can cause, uh, “digestive problems” when consumed even at suggested serving sizes.

Third, we want the sugar alternative to taste like sugar. Like, what’s the point of sweetening something if it has a bad aftertaste?

With all this in mind, we bring you our top five sugar alternatives:

1. Allulose

Hands down, it’s the best sugar alternative out there. It has practically ZERO impact on blood sugar because over 90% of it passes through our kidneys without being metabolized. This means that it has 95% fewer calories than sugar.

Studies show it’s totally safe and has little impact on tummies when consumed in normal amounts. What does this mean? For a 100 pound child, there shouldn’t be any GI issues with up to 18 grams of allulose consumed at a single time.

This product, with one of the highest allulose contents on the market, has 13 grams. Finally, allulose tastes like real sugar. It comes in granulated, powdered, and syrup forms. It really is the most sugar-like alternative sweetener on the market.

2. Erythritol

Definitely second place but it has its drawbacks. Erythritol has zero glycemic impact (most of it passes through the kidneys unmetabolized) and has been found to be very safe, even in large amounts.

In one study, 50 grams (!) consumed by young adults at one meal did cause some GI distress. But this is a level that no one would actually eat at one time. Most products containing erythritol are in the 5-20-gram range.

So, how does it taste? In chocolate bars, ice cream, and beverages, it tastes just like sugar. But erythritol has, what food scientists call a “cooling effect,” i.e., it feels cool on the tongue. This is great for cold things, but not so great for baked goods or hot chocolate.

3. Monk fruit

The natural food industry loves this one because it’s “natural.” But here at TFT, we just care about the science. It’s practically as processed as other alternative sweeteners like allulose and erythritol, and just as safe.

So, what we really care about is: glycemic impact (it’s zero; yay!), the potential for GI distress (extremely low; yay!), and taste. It’s hard to judge the taste of monk fruit because it’s almost always mixed with erythritol or stevia.

For example, the three most popular monk fruit sweeteners on the market (Lakanto, Splenda Monk Fruit, and Monk Fruit in the Raw) all have way more erythritol than monk fruit. These sweeteners work really well for many recipes, and they’re great zero-glycemic options. Just don’t expect to be consuming mostly monk fruit.

4. Stevia

This has long been the most popular “natural” sugar alternative. It’s still pretty popular as you can find it in sodas, chocolate, ice cream, and many other products. Like our first four sugar alternatives, stevia has zero glycemic impact and is quite safe.

The big issue with stevia is taste. Pure stevia extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar but it has an astringent after taste. Food engineers have been able to make stevia taste much better over the years but it’s still noticeably different from sugar.  

5. Xylitol

Last on the list for two reasons. First, it’s not zero glycemic. It’s very low (around 7 on a scale where straight glucose is 100), so it’s still a good sugar alternative.

Second, and more importantly, it can cause upset tummies at lower amounts than its sugar alcohol cousin, erythritol. It’s been shown to be quite safe, beneficial for dental health, and the taste is closer to sugar than erythritol, stevia, or monk fruit.

But it’s the potential GI distress that knocks this one down the list. If you see it listed in a product, give it a try but don’t overdo it.

The simplest but most powerful nutritional change a family can make is reducing sugar. As we show in our Nourish Masterclass, there’s a lot of evidence that diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates increase the risk for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, and contribute to problems in school, depression, and other mental health challenges.

The good news is that it’s easier than ever to kick sugar to the curb. There are now quite a few amazing alternative sweeteners on the market that work well in so many different treats. These days, we get to have our sugar-free cake and eat it too.

So, what makes a great sugar alternative?

First, it has to have as minimal an effect on blood sugar as possible. This effect is called glycemic impact. We want our sugar alternatives to not raise blood sugar at all. This would be a “zero glycemic impact.”

Second, we want it to be 100% safe, including not upsetting our kids’ (or our)  tummies. Many sugar alcohols like maltitol, can cause, uh, “digestive problems” when consumed even at suggested serving sizes.

Third, we want the sugar alternative to taste like sugar. Like, what’s the point of sweetening something if it has a bad aftertaste?

With all this in mind, we bring you our top five sugar alternatives:

1. Allulose

Hands down, it’s the best sugar alternative out there. It has practically ZERO impact on blood sugar because over 90% of it passes through our kidneys without being metabolized. This means that it has 95% fewer calories than sugar.

Studies show it’s totally safe and has little impact on tummies when consumed in normal amounts. What does this mean? For a 100 pound child, there shouldn’t be any GI issues with up to 18 grams of allulose consumed at a single time.

This product, with one of the highest allulose contents on the market, has 13 grams. Finally, allulose tastes like real sugar. It comes in granulated, powdered, and syrup forms. It really is the most sugar-like alternative sweetener on the market.

2. Erythritol

Definitely second place but it has its drawbacks. Erythritol has zero glycemic impact (most of it passes through the kidneys unmetabolized) and has been found to be very safe, even in large amounts.

In one study, 50 grams (!) consumed by young adults at one meal did cause some GI distress. But this is a level that no one would actually eat at one time. Most products containing erythritol are in the 5-20-gram range.

So, how does it taste? In chocolate bars, ice cream, and beverages, it tastes just like sugar. But erythritol has, what food scientists call a “cooling effect,” i.e., it feels cool on the tongue. This is great for cold things, but not so great for baked goods or hot chocolate.

3. Monk fruit

The natural food industry loves this one because it’s “natural.” But here at TFT, we just care about the science. It’s practically as processed as other alternative sweeteners like allulose and erythritol, and just as safe.

So, what we really care about is: glycemic impact (it’s zero; yay!), the potential for GI distress (extremely low; yay!), and taste. It’s hard to judge the taste of monk fruit because it’s almost always mixed with erythritol or stevia.

For example, the three most popular monk fruit sweeteners on the market (Lakanto, Splenda Monk Fruit, and Monk Fruit in the Raw) all have way more erythritol than monk fruit. These sweeteners work really well for many recipes, and they’re great zero-glycemic options. Just don’t expect to be consuming mostly monk fruit.

4. Stevia

This has long been the most popular “natural” sugar alternative. It’s still pretty popular as you can find it in sodas, chocolate, ice cream, and many other products. Like our first four sugar alternatives, stevia has zero glycemic impact and is quite safe.

The big issue with stevia is taste. Pure stevia extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar but it has an astringent after taste. Food engineers have been able to make stevia taste much better over the years but it’s still noticeably different from sugar.  

5. Xylitol

Last on the list for two reasons. First, it’s not zero glycemic. It’s very low (around 7 on a scale where straight glucose is 100), so it’s still a good sugar alternative.

Second, and more importantly, it can cause upset tummies at lower amounts than its sugar alcohol cousin, erythritol. It’s been shown to be quite safe, beneficial for dental health, and the taste is closer to sugar than erythritol, stevia, or monk fruit.

But it’s the potential GI distress that knocks this one down the list. If you see it listed in a product, give it a try but don’t overdo it.

The simplest but most powerful nutritional change a family can make is reducing sugar. As we show in our Nourish Masterclass, there’s a lot of evidence that diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates increase the risk for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, and contribute to problems in school, depression, and other mental health challenges.

The good news is that it’s easier than ever to kick sugar to the curb. There are now quite a few amazing alternative sweeteners on the market that work well in so many different treats. These days, we get to have our sugar-free cake and eat it too.

So, what makes a great sugar alternative?

First, it has to have as minimal an effect on blood sugar as possible. This effect is called glycemic impact. We want our sugar alternatives to not raise blood sugar at all. This would be a “zero glycemic impact.”

Second, we want it to be 100% safe, including not upsetting our kids’ (or our)  tummies. Many sugar alcohols like maltitol, can cause, uh, “digestive problems” when consumed even at suggested serving sizes.

Third, we want the sugar alternative to taste like sugar. Like, what’s the point of sweetening something if it has a bad aftertaste?

With all this in mind, we bring you our top five sugar alternatives:

1. Allulose

Hands down, it’s the best sugar alternative out there. It has practically ZERO impact on blood sugar because over 90% of it passes through our kidneys without being metabolized. This means that it has 95% fewer calories than sugar.

Studies show it’s totally safe and has little impact on tummies when consumed in normal amounts. What does this mean? For a 100 pound child, there shouldn’t be any GI issues with up to 18 grams of allulose consumed at a single time.

This product, with one of the highest allulose contents on the market, has 13 grams. Finally, allulose tastes like real sugar. It comes in granulated, powdered, and syrup forms. It really is the most sugar-like alternative sweetener on the market.

2. Erythritol

Definitely second place but it has its drawbacks. Erythritol has zero glycemic impact (most of it passes through the kidneys unmetabolized) and has been found to be very safe, even in large amounts.

In one study, 50 grams (!) consumed by young adults at one meal did cause some GI distress. But this is a level that no one would actually eat at one time. Most products containing erythritol are in the 5-20-gram range.

So, how does it taste? In chocolate bars, ice cream, and beverages, it tastes just like sugar. But erythritol has, what food scientists call a “cooling effect,” i.e., it feels cool on the tongue. This is great for cold things, but not so great for baked goods or hot chocolate.

3. Monk fruit

The natural food industry loves this one because it’s “natural.” But here at TFT, we just care about the science. It’s practically as processed as other alternative sweeteners like allulose and erythritol, and just as safe.

So, what we really care about is: glycemic impact (it’s zero; yay!), the potential for GI distress (extremely low; yay!), and taste. It’s hard to judge the taste of monk fruit because it’s almost always mixed with erythritol or stevia.

For example, the three most popular monk fruit sweeteners on the market (Lakanto, Splenda Monk Fruit, and Monk Fruit in the Raw) all have way more erythritol than monk fruit. These sweeteners work really well for many recipes, and they’re great zero-glycemic options. Just don’t expect to be consuming mostly monk fruit.

4. Stevia

This has long been the most popular “natural” sugar alternative. It’s still pretty popular as you can find it in sodas, chocolate, ice cream, and many other products. Like our first four sugar alternatives, stevia has zero glycemic impact and is quite safe.

The big issue with stevia is taste. Pure stevia extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar but it has an astringent after taste. Food engineers have been able to make stevia taste much better over the years but it’s still noticeably different from sugar.  

5. Xylitol

Last on the list for two reasons. First, it’s not zero glycemic. It’s very low (around 7 on a scale where straight glucose is 100), so it’s still a good sugar alternative.

Second, and more importantly, it can cause upset tummies at lower amounts than its sugar alcohol cousin, erythritol. It’s been shown to be quite safe, beneficial for dental health, and the taste is closer to sugar than erythritol, stevia, or monk fruit.

But it’s the potential GI distress that knocks this one down the list. If you see it listed in a product, give it a try but don’t overdo it.

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