Mark sisson's site seems to suggest that it does not cause insulin levels to rise, any thoughts on energy bars that use sugar alcohols and refer to themselves as low carb (net effective carb subtracting fibers and sugar alcohol to yield 1-2 gm of carbs/bar), such as the linked Carbrite bars?
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No, no, no!! Do not use!
I will expand my answer after I get back from the movies.
First of all, sugar alcohols are processed and one of the main tenants of paleo-dogma is that we do not eat processed foods. Now, I know that most people eat some processed foods - I eat Trader Joe's Chicken Sausages, among other types of processed food; but I do my darndest to limit most processed foods in my diet. Strike one against sugar alcohol: it's processed and, by extension, denatured.
Second, most sources will state that sugar alcohols have a low glycemic index because it doesn't raise insulin as quickly as table sugar does. Here's the truth: for some people, sugar alcohols will not raise insulin much because their bodies do not contain the enzymes to break down those sugar alcohols. For those people, the sugar alcohols will travel to the gut, where they will ferment, causing bloating and gas, or they will draw water out of the colon, causing diarrhea. IF you are a person for whom sugar alcohol does not cause gas or bloating, then you likely have the necessary enzymes to break it down into glucose. Congratulations, you've now got glucose hitting your blood stream - didn't we want to avoid that? Strike two: sugar alcohol will either hit your blood as glucose or wreak havoc on your digestive system. Neither are good.
Third, not all sugar alcohols are created equal, as others have pointed out. Some are nearly as insulin-raising as table sugar, others are not. Some can cause rectal bleeding, seizures, edema, rashes, etc; others are downright toxic! Don't dabble until you know for sure which is which! Strike three: not all sugar alcohols are created equal.
Fourth, many sugar alcohols are rumored to be damaging to the liver, the kidney, the bladder and adrenal glands. Until we know for sure, steer clear!
Fifth, sugar alcohols are currently only considered safe (in CW circles) in small doses; but who eats just one square of chocolate - really?!
Finally, insulin has been clinically shown to be raised in some people when they think about sweet food, let alone eat it, regardless of it's actual carbohydrate and sugar content. If you're trying to lose weight, it might be best to avoid sweet things altogether.
P.S. I should mention that Robb Wolf has said that sugar alcohol is fine in a pinch. So don't get too upset if you discovered you've eaten some. You'll likely just get gas or a slight rise in insulin. Just don't seek it out and eat it daily.
Ouch. All the hate??? I've got bad news for most of you: you're already ingesting xylitol if you ear berries, plums, endive, mushrooms and many other fruits and veggies. It's IN a lot of our beatiful paleo food already. So are strawberries going to be taken off the paleo-approved list now?
Oh but it gets worse! The human body actually produces xylitol in carbohydrate metabolism. Yep we're eating it in our paleo food and making it in our own bodies! Seems to me you can't get much more paleo than that.
I just don't see how something that mimics the taste and feeling of sugar will help cure a sugar addiction like most people have. I don't trust the stuff and I know the less sweet stuff I eat, the less I crave. Just my n=1 though.
I don't see any problem with sugar alcohols like Erythritol or Xylitol -- neither one causes me any digestive distress because they are absorbed much differently than Sorbitol or Maltitol.
As a type 1 diabetic, I can attest to the fact that sugar alcohols do, indeed, raise blood sugars. Well, they can. And you won't know which ones do, and which one's done.
Example: Before I went all Primally, I tried to satisfy my sweet tooth with sugar free treats. A bag of SF Reese left my sugar exactly the same. Great. A bag of SF Twizzlers kicked my sugar from 100 to 300. BAD BAD BAD NAUGHTY DIABETIC!!
Every single thing we ingest, processed or not, will affect us differently than it affects someone else, especially when it comes to blood sugar and insulin. 5 carbs will raise my blood sugar about 25 points. Someone who's more sensitive may find that 5 carbs raises their sugar by 50 or 100 points. Same as 1 unit of insulin drops my sugar by about 18 units, which is not good -- it should drop me 40-50 points.
Obviously, a small amount of sugar alcohol (the amount in the one protien bar you need because you woke up late and you'll be chaperoning the high school graduation for most of the day and you DO NOT feel up to an IF since you'll be stuck in the sun trying to wrangle 30 hyperactive 18-year-olds who no longer have to listen to school authority because THIS IS GRADUATION!!!!!) shouldn't be a problem :)
(Can we tell I had a busy day? :)
So, to sum up -- all things in moderation. But watch how you feel after consuming any SAs.
Here is a problem that I learned of when I started paleo vs just low carb: If you are trying to lose weight, you need to avoid ALL sweets.
It has been documented that people gain weight drinking diet coke. Why? Your body detects sweets in the mouth and starts to release insulin. If your snack only had that diet coke, you would have all this insulin in your bloodstream with nothing to do. Your body then sends a signal that it needs food. ergo, weight gain.
Also, it is best just to forget about the sweeteners, period. I confess I am a little slack on this. If I am out for brunch, I want some coffee, and it needs splenda. But when I was more strict (restarting whole30 soon), I found that when I cut out the artificial sweetener (I had been no sugar for years), I lost my sweet tooth. Diet coke was too sweet for me.
I don't know much about them in a technical way but I do know when I've eaten things with sugar alcohols in them i feel more bloated and shitty. Much like gluten for me.
Edit to add Mark Sisson's blog post about whether sweeteners cause an insulin spike Here