3 Natural Sweeteners You May Not Be Familiar With


In Muscle Elements newest product The TRUTH™, we introduce a way to sweeten and flavor a protein product in an all-natural way.  In addition to the all-natural flavors we use, we also incorporated 3 natural sweeteners that we would like to educate and take you thru a small tutorial on, and provide some information regarding each one.

 Xylitol is the first one we will go over today.  Xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and tastes like sugar. It’s not an artificial sweetener, but an all-natural sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and produced in small amounts by the human body. Xylitol has been researched for over 40 years, resulting in thousands of studies confirming its effectiveness and safety. Xylitol is absorbed slowly and only partially utilized by the body, which means fewer calories: 2.4 calories per gram (40% less than other carbohydrates). It also has a low glycemic index (7, compared to sugar’s 83) and has little effect on blood sugar levels. Since the body does not require insulin to metabolize xylitol, it has become a widely used sweetener for diabetic diets in some countries. In the U.S., xylitol is approved as a food additive in unlimited quantity for foods with special dietary purposes.

Improving Oral Health – Xylitol is one of the newest, easiest and tastiest ways that people can improve oral health. Research done in widely different conditions confirms that xylitol use may reduce tooth decay rates both in high-risk groups (those naturally prone to dental carries, as well as those with poor nutrition and poor oral hygiene) and in low-risk groups (those less prone to dental carries, who apply all current prevention recommendations). Sugar-free chewing gums and candies manufactured with xylitol as the primary sweetener have already received official endorsements from six national dental associations.

Erythritol – belongs to a class of compounds called sugar alcohols.  These molecules are like hybrids of a carbohydrate and an alcohol.  There are many different sugar alcohols. They can be found in natural foods like fruits, but they’re also added to “sugar-free” products of all sorts.  The way these molecules are structured gives them the ability to stimulate the sweet taste receptors on our tongues.  Common sugar alcohols include xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, to name a few. But erythritol appears to be quite a bit different than the others.

To begin with, it contains much fewer calories:

Table sugar: 4 calories per gram.

Xylitol: 2.4 calories per gram.

Erythritol: 0.24 calories per gram.

With only 6% of the calories of sugar, it still has 70% of the sweetness.  Due to its unique chemical structure, our bodies don’t break it down.  It goes pretty much unchanged through our system, without causing any of the harmful metabolic effects of excess sugar… or the digestive issues associated with other sugar alcohols.

Erythritol Does Not Spike Blood Sugar or Insulin – Humans don’t have the enzymes to break down erythritol.  It gets absorbed into the bloodstream and is then excreted unchanged in the urine.

When healthy people are given erythritol, there is no change in blood sugar or insulin levels. There is also no effect on cholesterol, triglycerides or other biomarkers.  For people who are overweight, with diabetes or other issues related to the metabolic syndrome, erythritol appears to be an excellent alternative to sugar.

Erythritol Does Not Feed Bacteria in The Mouth – One widely accepted side effect of sugar consumption is poor dental health… cavities and tooth decay.  The harmful bacteria in the mouth can use sugar for energy.  When these bacteria have plenty of energy, they grow, multiply and secrete acids that erode the enamel of the teeth.  Other sugar alcohols like Xylitol have found their way into “tooth-friendly” products, because bacteria cannot digest them and use them for energy.  Multiple studies have examined the effects erythritol has on dental caries and the results are mixed. Some studies show a reduction in plaque and the harmful bacteria, while another study shows no actual reduction in caries.  According to a 3-year study in 485 school children, erythritol was even more protective against dental caries than xylitol and sorbitol.

What Happens to Erythritol in The Body? –  There is one major caveat to most sugar alcohols… they can cause digestive issues.  Because the body can’t metabolize all of them, some travel to the intestine where they get fed to the bacteria.  But… again, erythritol is different.  Most of it gets absorbed into the body way before it gets to the colon, where most of the bacteria reside.  From the small intestine, it travels into the bloodstream.  There it circulates for a while, until it is eventually excreted unchanged in the urine. About 90% of erythritol gets excreted this way.

The Bottom Line- Overall, erythritol is an excellent sweetener.

It contains almost no calories.

It has 70% of the sweetness of sugar.

It doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels.

Human studies show very little side effects… mainly minor digestive issues in some people.

Studies where animals are fed massive amounts for long periods of time show no adverse effects.

Stevia Rebaudiana (RebA) – is an all-natural sweetening ingredient extracted from the stevia leaf that is used in powder or liquid form to heighten sweetening intensity and improve taste.  The stevia leaf contains a number of very similar compounds or steviol glycosides that are all sweet. The best tasting of these is Rebaudioside A. In its highly purified form, it has sweetness between 250 to 400 times that of an equal weight of sugar.  For Rebaudioside A, the R1 position is a single glucose molecule, the R2 position is two glucose molecules. If Rebaudioside A only had the same sweetness as sugar it would have much more calorific content than sugar. However, nature has produced a molecule that is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and therefore a very small amount is needed to sweeten a product meaning it contributes essentially zero calories.