The day you choose to follow the paleo diet was the day that changed the entire game for you. You challenged yourself, even though you thought you could never do it. Yes, it was hard, but the outcome is definitely outstanding and something to be proud of!
For starters, no more obesity problems, and the most important part – no more health problems. However, we’re all only human, and it is tough to give up on every unhealthy food there is. There must be some exceptions here and there, right?
Well, cheat days are allowed, but you chose to eat paleo-friendly sweets instead. Since chocolate chip cookies are your guilty pleasure, you’ve decided to bake some paleo version to satisfy your cravings.
However, once you’ve started preparing the necessary ingredients, you’ve noticed you’re out of honey. The only sweetener you currently have in your home is erythritol, with which you’ve never baked pastry before. Can you use it?
Can you eat erythritol on paleo?
This right here is the question that many paleo dieters have asked themselves at some point. If you’re interested in finding out more, dive into our article before you mix the dough!
Can You Eat Erythritol On Paleo?
The answer you’ve been waiting for is – yes, you can eat erythritol on paleo. In fact, erythritol is commonly used instead of granulated sugar in both paleo and keto diet regimes.
However, even this food product falls into a gray area as some paleo dieters don’t consider erythritol to be truly paleo. Be that as it may, every person has a different opinion about what you should and shouldn’t eat while on paleo, so don’t take this for granted.
What you should know is that erythritol is actually a natural sweetener (don’t be fooled by its name!), and it can stand side by side with white sugar as it tastes almost identically – minus the calories.
Despite their name, sugar alcohols don’t actually contain any ethanol, and they can’t make you drunk. Because of their similar chemical structure to white sugar, they’re able to activate the sweet taste receptors on your tongue.
Sugar alcohols are very sweet and are a much healthier version of regular sugar. They’re found naturally in plant products such as berries and fruits. Moreover, sugar alcohols have fewer calories than white sugar and can even yield some health benefits.
Since sugar alcohols are somewhat resistant to digestion, they act as a dietary fiber. However, one important note here is that sugar alcohols belong to FODMAP and can cause digestive issues in some people, such as gas, bloating, constipation, stomach pain, and diarrhea. But that usually happens when you use it in large quantities.
The good thing about sugar alcohols is that they don’t cause sudden sugar spikes in the blood, making them suitable for people with diabetes. Today, sugar alcohols are very popular, and they’re widely used sweeteners by just about everyone.
Common types of sugar alcohols:
The following graph compares the glycemic index (a measure of how fast foods raise blood sugar levels) of sugar alcohols with pure table sugar (sucrose):
As you can see, the glycemic index for erythritol is zero. Other sugar alcohols have almost an insignificant effect on blood sugar levels compared to white sugar (sucrose).
Pros Of Sugar Alcohols
- Can improve dental health
- May have a prebiotic effect
- Contribute to bone health
- Increase collagen production, leading to healthy skin
Cons Of Sugar Alcohols
- High amounts of sugar alcohols might cause digestive issues
Erythritol is a low-calorie sweetener that belongs to the sugar alcohol group. Erythritol differs from other sugar alcohol types, as it contains much fewer calories, to begin with.
|Table sugar||4 calories per gram|
|Erythritol||0,24 calories per gram|
|Xylitol||2,4 calories per gram|
Erythritol is a product of yeast fermentation (ferments glucose from corn or wheat starch), and it is 70% as sweet as sugar, so it isn’t 1:1. Having said that, it takes 1 ⅓ cups of erythritol to equal 1 cup white sugar sweetness.
In addition, unlike other sugar alcohols, erythritol is less likely to cause digestive upset. That’s because it is absorbed by the small intestine, which gets it out of your body through urine within 24 hours. That simply means that erythritol doesn’t turn into energy in your body.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Generally, erythritol is very safe for consumption. Scientists have conducted several studies on its toxicity and effects on metabolism, and it turns out there are no serious side effects detected.
As we’ve already mentioned above, sugar alcohol can cause digestive issues. Our bodies can’t fully digest them because of their unique structure. For this reason, they travel unchained through the body until they reach the colon. Bacteria in the colon ferment them and produce gas as a side effect.
Therefore, eating high amounts of whichever type of sugar alcohol can cause digestive issues such as gas, bloat, diarrhea, constipation, or stomach pain.
However, erythritol is slightly different from the rest of the sugar alcohol types. Most of the erythritol gets absorbed into the bloodstream before it even reaches the colon. It flows in the blood for a while and then gets out of the system through the urine.
Approximately 90% of the erythritol we eat is absorbed into the bloodstream, and the remaining 10% travel undigested to the colon. Unlike most sugar alcohol types, it seems that erythritol is resistant to colon bacteria fermentation in small doses.
In contrast, if you eat more than 50 grams of erythritol in a single dose, you’re definitely going to experience some digestive issues. So, unless you’re eating an enormous amount at once, you’re probably not going to have a problem with erythritol. In the end, erythritol sensitivity will be different for each person.
Pros Of Erythritol
Because our bodies don’t have the enzymes to break down the erythritol, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and exerted directly into the urine. That means that erythritol won’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels or insulin, and there is also no effect on cholesterol or triglycerides either.
Moreover, some studies show that erythritol may reduce the risk of heart disease. That’s simply because erythritol acts as an antioxidant and may reduce the blood vessel damage caused by high blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, more studies are needed on this particular topic.
Lastly, erythritol can improve dental health and reduce the risk of tooth cavities. The explanation behind this is that bacteria in the mouth use sugar for energy. They also release acids that erode tooth enamel in the process.
However, mouth bacteria can’t use erythritol for energy. Some studies even show a reduction in plaque and harmful bacteria in the mouth. Other studies claim that erythritol can even protect from dental caries.
Other Paleo-Friendly Sweeteners
- Maple syrup
- Blackstrap molasses
- Yacon syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Lucuma powder
- Monk fruit
- Jerusalem Artichoke Syrup
Baking With Erythritol
Baking with erythritol is very similar to baking with regular sugar. You can either mix it with dry ingredients such as flour, or wet ingredients such as butter or milk.
However, there is a catch here. Erythritol doesn’t dissolve quite as well as sugar. So, if you happen to make a recipe where a smooth texture is important, try using a powdered version of erythritol or grind the granulated version yourself.
The other drawback of erythritol is that it will melt after heating, but it won’t caramelize. Depending on what you’re trying to cook, you may need to find an alternative for it.
On the other hand, erythritol will crystalize. That usually happens when you use a lot of it, and it will appear on leftover sauces, frostings, etc. Because of that, we advise you to use the powdered form or mix it with other natural sweeteners.