|Sugars: A Sticky Subject
|Sugar vs. Sugar Alternatives…and What They Have to Do with Counting Carbs
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and comes in two forms. The first form,
the monosaccharide, is made up of one sugar molecule and includes
glucose, fructose and galactose. The second form of sugar is the
disaccharide, which links two sugar molecules together. For example,
when glucose and fructose are combined, they form sucrose (otherwise
known as common table sugar). Other disaccharides you may recognize are
maltose, dextrose and lactose. When three or more molecules get
together, they form starch-potatoes and rice, for example.
Aside from these conventional carbs, there's another class of
unconventional carbs called polyols, or sugar alcohols. Not truly a
carb, these nutrients are commonly found in sugar-free foods to impart
sweetness and texture. Such nutrients, including maltitol and
glycerine, do not cause a significant rise in insulin levels because
the body has a hard time absorbing them. This is good because all low
carb dieting is all about controlling insulin, the hormone which
triggers fat storage.
See how this subject can get a bit sticky? Many food companies have
developed snacks using these unconventional carbs to help individuals
satisfy their sweet tooths without experiencing the negative side
effects associated with excessive sugar. Now, while these sugar
alcohols don't metabolize like carbs in the body, they are still
required by the government to be listed as carbs on product labels.
Smart dieters know how to distinguish between “new impact carbs” (those
which impact insulin levels) and this class of sugar “alternatives”.
The bottom line is, it's OK to treat yourself to sugar-free foods that
contain sugar alcohols, such as Doctor's CarbRite Diet Bars.