Is Sorbitol Keto Friendly? (Plus 3 Keto-Friendly Alternatives)

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that has a sweet taste and is very popular as a low-calorie sweetener, but is it keto friendly or not? This is what we will discover through this article. 

Sorbitol is a natural sugar substitute that is widely used in the food industry. The sweetener is naturally found in berries and fruits such as pears, apples, peaches, and apricots [*].

Sorbitol is also a substance produced by the human body during the metabolism process.

Sorbitol is very similar to glucose, but unlike glucose, it acts as a laxative, absorbing very slowly into the bloodstream. As a consequence of this gradual absorption, as it passes through the intestines, sorbitol tends to stick to some water. This increases the moisture content of the stool, which leads to easier elimination from the body.

Sorbitol is industrially produced from glucose for subsequent use in foods and beverages to give them sweetness, the specific structure and keep them from drying out.

Sorbitol is 60% less sweet than sugar, and it’s a sweetener that doesn’t raise blood sugar the way table sugar does. Oh, that’s cool.

I think you’ve still been looking for a keto-friendly sweetener with this feature so far – just keep reading to find out the truth about sorbitol in the keto diet, and whether it’s possible to include sorbitol in your ketogenic lifestyle as a keto friendly sweetener?

The name of the food additive E420

The food supplement includes two products designated in the European codification by the general index E420.

The official name is sorbitol and sorbitol syrup (GOST R 53904-2010. Food sweeteners. Terms and definitions).

* International variant – Sorbitol and Sorbitol syrup.

Alternative names for sorbitol:

  • D-glucite;
  • D-glucohexane, chemical name;
  • Hexanexole;
  • Hexanol;
  • Sorbol, English, German;
  • D-Sorbit, Glucit, German;
  • D-glucitol, French.

Sorbitol syrup can be designated:

  • Sorbitol (or sorbitol) syrup;
  • Glucitol syrup;
  • Sorbitol solution, English name;
  • Sorbitsirup or Nicht kristallisierender Sorbitsirup, German;
  • Sirop de sorbitol, French.

The common trade name of the E 420 additive is sorbitol, usually indicated on product packages.

The nutritional value of sorbitol

The following nutritional value of the additive E420 (sorbitol) is determined:

  • calories per gram = 2.6 or 354 kilocalories per 100 grams of supplement;
  • glycemic index (GI) = 9;
  • Sweetness: Sorbitol is 60% inferior to sugar.
  • clean crabs = Zero.

The most common uses for sorbitol

Sorbitol is widely used for the production of general food products, health products, pharmaceuticals and hygiene products.

This substance is used:

  • In the production of dietary products, goods for diabetics
  • In the food industry to improve the taste, type and quality of food
  • As an auxiliary substance in the manufacture of drugs (to give structure): vitamins, syrups
  • For coughs, creams and ointments, laxatives
  • In cosmetology for the production of shampoos, shower gels, decorative cosmetics
  • In medicine for the treatment of various diseases of the digestive system
  • At work and home when preserving food for the winter
  • In oral care products (chewing gums, lozenges and toothpaste)
  • To cleanse the liver and bile ducts
  • As a laxative and choleretic

Instructions for use Sorbitol

Sorbitol is used in home cooking for cooking various dishes and preserving food. The substance can be added to hot drinks.

The second popular use of sorbitol is to cleanse the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts. This is an effective and safe procedure, but there are contraindications, therefore, it is necessary to consult a specialist before doing it at home.

Ideally, sorbitol is best combined with other sweeteners.

Sorbitol properties

Sorbitol has a low glycemic index, which allows it to be used as a sweetener in foods for diabetics, but what about using sorbitol as a keto-friendly sweetener?

Sorbitol is still popular today, especially in confectionery products, as a low-calorie sweetener.

You might think this question – could sorbitol sweetener also be used to make keto-friendly desserts? The answer below … Keep reading to the end.

According to its chemical structure, sorbitol belongs to polyhydric alcohols.

Sorbitol crystals are white, solid, readily soluble in water, slightly larger than sugar in size.

The substance has a good sweet taste, reminiscent of sucrose, but without a pleasant aftertaste. 

Like all similar alcohols, this sweetener creates a mild cooling sensation in the mouth.

Is Sorbitol Keto Friendly?

Although there is widespread debate over whether or not sorbitol is keto friendly, the real answer is:

Technically, most sugar alcohols including “sorbitol” should be counted as regular carbohydrates and kept to a minimum on the keto diet.

Although sorbitol sweetener is sold on Amazon as a keto-friendly food powder, this isn’t quite the case as you might think. Why??

Quick answer: Sorbitol is not 100% keto friendly – because it is high in net carbs (65 grams of net carbs per 100 grams).

So try to avoid Sorbitol on keto because it can kick you out of ketosis even if you take it in very small amounts.

If you want to successfully maintain your ketogenic progression, it is important to try to limit your net carbohydrate intake to 20 – 30 grams per day to stay in a ketosis state.

Sorbitol is 60% less sweet than sugar, so if you are on the keto diet, you may need to increase your amount of sorbitol to get the same sugar taste.

This is another reason you should consider avoiding sorbitol on keto, as this will increase your desire to eat more of this sweetener.

The health benefits of sorbitol

Recently, the demand for sweeteners with a low glycemic index and low calories has increased.

Especially for people on the keto diet or for other reasons – but in fact, sorbitol is among the sweeteners that provide this benefit and others health benefits.

1. Reduced calorie value

Sorbitol is slowly absorbed by the body, allowing part of the ingested substance to reach the large intestine where Metabolism generates fewer calories.

While sucrose contributes 4 calories per gram, sorbitol has a calorie value of only 2.6 and is widely used in the formulation of low-calorie food products.

Unfortunately, despite this benefit of sorbitol, it should be avoided on the keto diet.

2. Beneficial for diabetics

Sorbitol sweetener may be a useful alternative to regular sugar, especially for people with diabetes, as it reduces high blood sugar levels.

Sorbitol has a glycemic index of 9 making it an acceptable sugar substitute for diabetes.

Sorbitol also has a low-calorie value of around 2.54 kcal/g, which is consistent with the goal of calorie and weight control for diabetics.

Before choosing foods sweetened with sorbitol and/or other sugar alcohols, the benefit of these polyols should be discussed with a GP /diabetes specialist as some of these products may contain other ingredients that may not be suitable for their diet.

3. Helps protect against tooth decay

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recognized that sugar alcohols such as sorbitol may benefit oral health. This is based on a study that found that sorbitol may reduce the risk of cavities compared to regular sugar.

Replacing sugar with sorbitol can greatly improve the quality of your teeth, and prevent conditions such as:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease (gingivitis)
  • Plaque buildup
  • Cavities growth

4. Protects Your Skin

Sorbitol is broken down into Beta-Glucan by certain probiotics which have a calming effect on your skin.

The moisturizing property helps retain the moisture content of your skin, making it smoother and more supple.

Sorbitol provides healing properties that are beneficial to people suffering from dry skin conditions.

It’s also known to form a protective layer on the skin, protecting the skin from the harsh climate and other environmental aggressors.

5. Cleanses Your Scalp And Hair

If you are dealing with scalp problems then Sorbitol will help you to sort it out as Sorbitol acts as a perfect surfactant.

Sorbitol is a key ingredient in many hair care products, including shampoo and conditioner, but why ??

  • Sorbitol adds shine and volume to your hair.
  • Sorbitol helps condition your hair, making it soft, silky, and tangle-free.
  • Sorbitol prevents hair care products from drying out.

Side effects and contraindications for sorbitol

Although sorbitol is “generally recognized as safe” by the US Food and Drug Administration, the sweetener may have many dose-related side effects.

The substance in its pure form is not recommended for use as an additive to drinks and food daily.

Although using up to 50g rarely causes unwanted symptoms, it is best to consume no more than 20g per day.

It should be remembered that sorbitol is found in many semi-finished products and other food products!

With the uncontrolled use of sorbitol, the following side effects may occur:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Weight gain
  • Weakness and dizziness
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea [*]
  • Increased gas production, bloating
  • Pronounced laxative effect
  • Urinary retention
  • Tachycardia
  • Chills
  • Although the substance has a low glycemic index, blood sugar rises slightly, which should be taken into account for people with diabetes.
  • Excess amounts of the substance can lead to neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy.

Contraindications for using sorbitol include:

  • Hypersensitivity to the substance
  • Intolerance to fructose, since a large dose of sorbitol, impairs its absorption
  • Gastrointestinal diseases (ascites, colitis, gallstone disease, irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Pregnancy and childhood – with caution

If the recommendations for use are followed, undesirable effects do not appear. And in case of an unexpected reaction of the body, it is enough to remove sorbitol from the diet.

What are the 3 best keto-friendly sweeteners?

You can easily substitute sorbitol for other safe, keto friendly sweeteners.

1. Stevia

Try using Stevia as a keto-friendly sweetener and as an alternative to sorbitol.

Stevia is a herb commonly known as a sugar leaf. Over the past few years, its completely harmless extract has become extremely popular.

It has been shown to lower blood pressure slightly, lower blood glucose and insulin levels in diabetics, and show excellent results in animal studies for anti-inflammatory purposes.

Opt for liquid stevia best. Usually, it is raw powdered stevia mixed with a solution that keeps it clean. If you buy powdered stevia, it is usually mixed with other sweeteners, which can cause problems (like hidden carbs).

2. Monk Fruit

Try using Monk Fruit as a keto friendly sweetener and as an alternative to sorbitol.

Also known as Luo Han Guo, the fruit monk came to us from China. It is very sweet (about 300 times sweeter than sugar) and is used in traditional medicine to treat obesity and diabetes.

It is quite difficult to find and can be quite expensive in its pure form. Basically, you’ll find it mixed with other sweeteners, many of which are high on the glycemic index and shouldn’t be eaten.

3. Erythritol

Try using the sugar alcohol Erythritol as a keto friendly sweetener and as an alternative to sorbitol.

It is usually found in fruits and vegetables and is made from corn. The great thing is that it has no effect on blood sugar and is very low in calories.

Typically, sugar alcohols can be uncomfortable because our bodies don’t have the enzymes to break them down, causing bacteria in the colon to secrete them. 

In the case of erythritol, it only enters the small intestine and is excreted from the body through urine.

However, some studies have shown that in large amounts, it can lead to mild stomach discomfort.

According to some recent studies, in healthy people, erythritol does not alter blood sugar or insulin levels. 

It has also been shown not to feed bacteria in the mouth, so it is gradually turning into a good substitute for sugar due to the absence of tooth decay.

Final recommendations: is sorbitol keto friendly?

After learning the truth about sorbitol on keto, we recommend that you avoid it as much as possible.
Sorbitol may prevent your progression on keto and kick you out of ketosis faster.

In general, there are several classifications of sweeteners – sorbitol falls into the category of sugar alcohols and is a low-calorie sweetener with a low glycemic index.

Sorbitol also has many health benefits such as preventing tooth decay, reducing blood sugar levels, and others.

But that doesn’t mean sorbitol has no side effects, just be aware that you may experience nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Avoid using sorbitol on a keto diet completely.
And try using safer alternatives like stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit to make several keto-friendly desserts without the sorbitol sweetener.

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