Sugar-Free Baking with The Sugar Alcohol Erythritol

Sugar-Free Baking with The Sugar Alcohol Erythritol

Question:

What do you know about the sugar alcohol erythritol? I’m looking to use it in sugar-free sweets this holiday.

– Candice C.

Answer:

Sugar alcohols (also known as polyols) are low-digestible carbohydrates, meaning that they are incompletely digested or absorbed in the small intestine then are at least partially fermented in the colon. Chemically a hydrogenated monosaccharide, erythritol is technically not a true sugar or an alcohol.  Erythritol is absorbed but is not fully metabolized enabling it to yield only 0.2 Cals/gram1. Erythritol is excreted intact in the urine, meaning it travels from gut to blood to kidneys unchanged. Um, you decide if that’s good or bad…

Erythritol is mainly derived from GMO cornstarch and is also natural-occurring in some other plants, fruit (like watermelon, pear, and grapes), mushrooms and fermented foods. In food products (often sugar-free foods) it can be used alone but is often found in combination with other polyols or non-nutritive sweeteners. For example, erythritol (along with rebiana) is a component of the sweetener TruviaTM. Erythritol would be part of the sugar alcohols section under carbohydrates in a Nutrition Facts panel of a food label. Erythritol is considered to have zero calories while other sugar alcohols have about half the calories of sugar1. Note that some lower-sugar foods have increased fat content for palatability2.

The US FDA determined that erythritol is Generally Recognized as Safe, as of 2001. The American Diabetes Association states, “Sugar alcohols and nonnutritive sweeteners are safe when consumed within the daily intake levels established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)2.” The estimated daily intake of erythritol is 1 gram per day and an estimated tolerable intake range of 10-20 grams per day 1,3.

Erythritol does not appear to affect blood sugar levels4. Other erythritol benefits for those with diabetes include no contribution to dental caries, lower laxative effect than other sugar alcohols, and slower digestion (lower glycemic). Sugar alcohols have not been proven effective in the management of weight3. And keep in mind that it’s overall carbohydrate consumption, not just sugar, that has the biggest impact on blood sugar management1.

In the kitchen, erythritol can’t be used in a weight for weight replacement for table sugar as erythritol has 60-80% the sweetness of sucrose3. You can use erythritol in a variety of food applications but know that sugar alcohols don’t have the same microbial inhibition, browning, or crystallization properties as table sugar. Unlike non-nutritive sweeteners, erythritol offers bulk and stabilization which helps with structure or viscosity of the finished product. It also acts as a humectant to retain moisture. Sounds to me like you need to know a bit about food chemistry to get an ideal result if you aren’t following a tested recipe!

References

  1. Low-Digestible Carbohydrates in Practice. HA Grabitske and JL Slavin. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Oct 2008; 108(10: 1677-1682.
  2. Sugar Substitutes: Useful Ingredients in Effective Diabetes Management. CL Seher. Today’s Dietitian, Nov 2010; 12(11):12-14.
  3. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, May 2012; 112 (5): 739-757.
  4. Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes, a position statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care, 2008 Jan; 31(Supplement 1): S61-78.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Life is Busy, Try These Grab-and-Go Snack Options

Life is Busy, Try These Grab-and-Go Snack Options

Question:

Hi there! So, I work full time and try to get my workouts done in the mornings. I go straight to work from LA Fitness. Do you have some suggestions on snacks that you can pack and go in those situations? I have been making a smoothie the night before and putting it in the freezer to take the next morning. Also, healthy snacks for the office after workouts. Thank you!

– Nancy C.

Answer:

Besides the obvious shelf-stable choices (protein or granola bars, nuts/seeds, fruit, crackers, etc.) consider ready-to-eat canned or aseptic packed items like tuna salad, soup, or ravioli and individually portioned hummus, peanut butter and even bean salad. Lots of refrigerated protein sources are safe to eat within a couple of hours from your gym bag, such as hard-cooked eggs, lunch meat, cheese, yogurt, and milk singles. If you have access to a microwave or hot water at work, then consider instant oatmeal and lower-sodium ramen noodles.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Nutritional Advice for Lowering BMI

Nutritional Advice for Lowering BMI

Question:

Hello my name is Lateshia S., I am 5’6” and weigh 170 pounds. I was trying to figure out how many calories a day would I need to eat, and what foods should and shouldn’t eat in order to achieve my goal of becoming leaner. When I did my fitness assessment I believe my BMI was about 27% and so I’m trying to get down to about 20-22% and I already exercise for an hour, 3 days a week since starting my membership in late June. So as far as dieting goes what should I do to see a change?

– Lateshia S.

Answer:

As far as calories go, you can use the base of 1,800-2,100 calories per day for a 5’6”, 170 lb., 30-year-old woman with your activity level to lose weight and adjust by 70 calories for every decade your actual age differs from thirty.

Some people have success by shifting to smaller portions or lower-calorie options of what they currently eat. Others do better with a more drastic change by eliminating fried items, fast food, and pre-packaged meals while adopting fresh wholesome salads, grilled poultry, and home-cooked meals. Even shifting calories to earlier in the day by eating a bigger breakfast and foregoing anything after a certain hour (say, 8 PM) can help prevent excess calorie storage.

Generalities of “eat fewer calories”, “reduce fat” and “increase fruits and vegetables” can apply to the vast majority of people looking to become leaner. What you need to eat depends on what you are currently eating. Only you know what and how much you are consuming. If you don’t know – find out by recording your intake and examine a few days’ worth with a decent diet analysis program. You might identify areas in which you need to improve.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Mini Nutrition Hacks

Mini Nutrition Hacks

Cheats to save you time and money for the best of health. 

Frozen beverage cubes 

Fill an ice cube tray with leftover coffee, lemonade, tea or other non-carbonated drink so you can use them later to chill similar drinks without dilution for maximum energy and taste. 

DIY produce wash  

Rinsing isn’t enough to remove pesticide residue and waxes from fruits and vegetables. It’s easy to make your own wash with baking soda and water. We suggest the recipe we found here: https://www.healthline.com/health/mini-hack-diy-fruit-and-vegetable-wash 

Pureed vegetables 

Don’t want to chew on more rabbit food? Yep, blenderize leftover cooked veggies so the vitamin-rich puree can be used in soups, spreads, and sauces. Best if used up to a ratio of 1 part puree to 3 parts liquid/paste of similar color (red + green = brown). 

Diced crisp greens 

If you’re not into eating a pile of leaves, these savory little gems fit as garnish for everything from pasta, potatoes, and salads to soup. Tear well-dried kale leaves or dice Brussel sproutstoss in extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast at 400 degrees F on sheet pans until crisp. Stir every few minutes and keep an eye on them so they don’t char. 

Grease & oil sopperupper  

Use the inside of used paper grocery bags laid over newspaper as underlayment for just cooked meats, cookies, and fried foods to absorb extra grease and oils. Unlined paper plates (the lightweight matte ones) also work well but aren’t eco-conscious. 

Appetite dampener 

Before you grocery shop or head to that party, eat an entire raw apple and drink a cup of water to fill you up, thereby reducing impulse buys and unintended high-calorie nibbles. 

Portion tricks 

Fool your eyes into thinking you’re getting more than you actually are by using smaller cups, bowls, and plates. When you finish these smaller containers filled with food, you’ll feel more satisfied than eating from partially full larger ones that leave you wanting more. 

Double up 

Cook once but eat twice! Plan on using leftovers for a subsequent quick meal by preparing your first meal with double the quantity. Go even bigger by tripling and freezing a third full meal portion. 


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When Bulking Up Isn’t Working

When Bulking Up Isn’t Working

Question:

I’m trying to bulk up, but I keep losing weight. I’m down to 142 lbs. I mostly eat turkey sandwiches and chicken breast.

– Donald M.

Answer:

First and foremost, Donald, please visit your healthcare provider as unexplained weight loss could be the result of an underlying medical condition. If you have any GI problems or trouble chewing, there are interventions to assist with breaking down your food.

That said, here are my tips for bulking up…  Eating more volume is an obvious plan. Adding calories to what you already eat is important. Your turkey sandwiches need to be laden with avocado, full-fat mayonnaise, pesto or cheese to maximize calories. Chicken breast can be breaded, fried, or served with sauces and creams to increase energy density.

Get the most out of every bite by making sure starches are dressed with heavier condiments – baked potato with butter and cream cheese, pasta with alfredo or pesto, risotto with cream sauce, etc. Opt for the densest version of food items like dried fruit vs fresh, granola vs cereal, and tortillas vs bread. Choose energy-rich produce (e.g. bananas, cherries, peas, sweet potato) over watery varieties. Use nut butters on crackers, rolls and in shakes.

Power-pack your beverages by adding a couple spoonsful of the concentrated version to your fluid. For example, pour some evaporated milk into your glass of milk or thawed juice concentrate into your OJ. Use leftover drinks to make ice cubes to use later instead of regular ice (water has no calories).

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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