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Friday 24 June 2011

Sugar Substitues Explained

So far in my recipes that I have posted in the past, sugar was never an issue. Now I will be experimenting with some sweeteners for recipes when I have a sugar craving. It can be confusing coming into the low-carb, low or no sugar game and being faced with all the options.
The following explains why I use one here and another one there…


I LOVE Splenda granular – it’s usually found in any grocery store – and several have their own “house” brand that is less expensive. It measures exactly like sugar and for drinks, sprinkling on foods, or moist desserts it works fabulously. Custards, puddings, mousses, sauces, cheesecakes, fruit pies, crisps, cobblers, custard pies such as pumpkin…for those types of things it is just perfect. BUT…it doesn’t work well in baked goods such as muffins, cakes, some cookies, quick breads, etc. Those types of dishes require the chemical properties of sugar for their raising, texture, crumbs, and general mouth-feel. Splenda doesn’t “cream till light and fluffy” and doesn’t help with the VOLUME of the recipe, so it doesn’t give the gorgeous end-product that I require my homemade goodies to have! So…Maltitol (Nature Sweet is a brand name…) and Whey Low are what I call for in those types of recipes.


Maltitol is good in that it works the same as sugar in providing the texture and crumb that make a great product. If the sugar alcohols don’t bother you, then it’s a lovely to work with. You can order it online in several places – usually ones that specialize in low-carb or diabetic products.

Personally, I have gotten away from using Maltitol because it is a sugar alcohol. It’s what’s used in commercially-made sugar-free cookies, cakes, muffins, ect. The sugar alcohols can cause intestinal distress in people – and being weight loss surgery post ops – they tend to cause MORE than a little in me and my husband. It’s not a pleasant situation!


Whey Low (by far my favorite!) on the other hand is made from lactose, (milk sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and sucrose (table sugar), but how they process it makes it low on the glycemic index and it doesn’t hit our bloodstream as fast as regular sugars do. (If you’ve had WL surgery you can have a very hard time with sugar – can make you very ill.) It also has less calories and carbs than the regular sugars it replaces.

Whey Low is not a sugar alcohol and doesn’t have those effects – which is a nice thing. It measures exactly like sugar in any recipe and gives the superior-quality product that we want when we go to all the trouble of baking!!
It also comes in granular, Gold (brown sub that is fantastic), and powdered for all your baking projects.


Agave, Stevia, Erythritol, Xylitol, Sorbitol
I have used these in small amounts, but since I love the Splenda and Whey Low, I rarely use any but Agave. (Agave is natural and not-calorie free. It is slightly sweeter than sugar.)

It’s just my personal preference, here. Since I do a lot of baking and love the ease of the Whey Low, I turn to that again and again. Some of these aren’t necessarily a measure for measure with sugar, and can take some experimenting to get the perfect amount in baked goods. I know a lot of people who love them for baking, so if these are what you would rather use, a search through Google will get you tons of recipes!

Erythritol is a natural sugar alcohol that is touted as causing less (or none) of the intestinal distress associated with SA’s, so that may be an option for you. Xylitol and Sorbitol are sugar alcohols. These are used in most gums and sugar free candies. All three of these are calorie-free, as are aspartame and saccharin – most commonly known as Blue Stuff and Pink Stuff!
I hope this helps!

***As weight loss surgery post ops sugar is something that makes us ill…physically causing a reaction called “dumping”. The intestines have been bypassed and the foods are absorbed very quickly, directly into the bloodstream without being processed first. Real sugar – refined or not – will cause this, if eaten in too high of quantities – and for us our limit is around 8 grams per serving.

To me, being healthy meant losing over 150 pounds – my life was in incredible danger at Morbidly Obese. So I chose the surgery to get my self back to a manageable weight.  I find that if I cut them out completely I – in my “fat-mentality” – crave them and feel punished and deprived. (Morbidly Obese people are ALWAYS MO in their minds…the surgery doesn’t affect that! We are works in progress…one problem at a time!) Tell me I can’t have it – that’s ALL I think about and obsess over. Most of us aren’t ridiculously fat because we simply ate too much. We ate too much because of emotional struggles and upheavals…it’s a fine line we walk in this weight loss journey, and anything that help us along without backsliding is welcome.

In talking with thousands of weight loss surgery patients, I’ve come to realize that we need to feel as normal as possible. The addiction is FOOD…we need the food to live. It’s very hard to try to control your addiction while still using your drug of choice. Ours is food. So…to keep post ops from going down a dangerous path – meaning never getting the weight off, or worse getting it off, regaining, and ending up bigger than before – we try to give alternatives that are ‘legal’ and won’t hurt the efforts. At the moment our choices are fairly limited. Splenda is a good alternative at this point. I guess you could say it’s the “Methadone” in our attempt to “get clean”.

(I’m not being silly or trite…it’s a real problem, this being addicted to food…and sugar is one of the substances that is extremely addictive to our personalities.)

So…to keep myself from diving headfirst into a vat of mocha-almond-java-caramel-cherry-swirl-fudge-ripple-whatever…I choose the lesser of the evils in my life AT THE MOMENT. The Splenda that I do eat is far less a concern than regaining those 100 pounds.

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