With low-carb diets like Keto gaining popularity, sugar substitutes and sweeteners have become a staple for people following such ways of eating. But with so many of them out there, it might be hard to pick and choose the right sweetener for you. Today, we will talk about allulose.
So, is allulose Keto? Yes, allulose is Keto-approved. It is not ‘recognized’ by the body as a carbohydrate and is not metabolized as energy, but it is instead absorbed by the small intestine and excreted in the urine. It provides only 0.2–0.4 calories per gram of allulose, or about 1/10 the calories of table sugar, and because of this, it has no effect on blood glucose and insulin levels.
What exactly is Allulose? Is it healthy? Are there better alternatives? If you are having a difficult time deciding on which sweetener to use make sure to read up below!
What exactly is allulose?
Allulose is a rare sugar, more specifically allulose is a monosaccharide which is also known as psicose. It’s found naturally in dehydrated fruits like figs, raisins, and jackfruit, but only in very small quantities which makes it difficult to extract from its original source. Allulose is also naturally present in small quantities in a variety of sweet foods like maple syrup, caramel sauce, and brown sugar.
As mentioned earlier, allulose has approximately 90% fewer calories than sucrose (table sugar) and has no effect on blood glucose and insulin which is the main reason it’s safe to consume while on Keto. It’s very similar to erythritol, another popular sweetener for keto, in that they are both about 70% as sweet as sugar.
Even if you don’t do Keto per se, allulose can still be a great implementation in your diet. If you are looking to cut your calorie intake for health reasons, or simply for weight management, allulose’s good taste will help you stick to a healthy diet.
Before allulose, only high-caloric sugars could provide the same sweet taste and classic sugary-texture. Allulose offers the taste and texture of sugar without all the troublesome calories.
Is allulose healthy?
Now, you might be wondering: That’s all great, but is allulose actually healthy? And science says, it actually is!
Allulose may help boost fat loss
In a study published in the journal Nutrition in 2017, researchers examined the effects of a single ingestion of allulose on post-meal energy metabolism in 13 healthy individuals. The researchers had the subjects consume an aqueous solution of either 5 grams of d-allulose or 10 milligrams of an aspartame control following an overnight fast period.
Using a breath-by-breath method, subjects went through blood sampling for relevant biomarkers and energy metabolism evaluation 30 minutes after consuming the solution.
The results of the study clearly showed that the subjects in the d-allulose group oxidized more fat for energy than the subjects in the control group, whereas control subjects oxidized more carbohydrates. In the d-allulose group (compared to the control group), plasma glucose levels were significantly lower, and free fatty acid levels were significantly higher – which indicated boosted fat metabolism.
The study concluded that d-Allulose enhances post-meal fat oxidation in healthy humans, indicating that it could be a novel sweetener to control and maintain healthy body weight, probably through enhanced energy metabolism.
Allulose may help control blood glucose levels
That’s right, allulose is actually a great tool for people struggling with diabetes. In multiple human and animal studies, researchers found that consuming allulose lowered blood sugar levels, increased insulin sensitivity and helped protect the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells (1, 2, 3, 4).
In one study on obese rats where one group was given allulose and the other one water or glucose, the allulose group had better blood glucose response, improved beta cell function and less belly fat gain than the other group.
Two other studies suggest that allulose may have beneficial effects on blood sugar regulation in humans.
On the first one, 20 healthy young adults were given either 5-7.5 grams of allulose with 75 grams of maltodextrin or just maltodextrin on its own. The study concluded that the group that took the allulose experienced significantly lower blood glucose and insulin levels compared to the group that took maltodextrin alone.
The second study, investigated the effect of allulose on blood glucose levels when taken with a meal. 26 adults consumed a meal alone or together with 5 grams of allulose. Some of the subjects were healthy while others had prediabetes. Blood glucose levels were tested and compared at the fasting state, and 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes after the meal.
The researchers found that the group that took allulose with their meal, had significantly lower blood glucose levels at the 30 and 60-minute marks compared to the group that had consumed the meal by itself.
And while these studies are relatively new and are not very broad in terms of the number of subjects tested, the data is extremely promising and we can expect to see a lot more research on allulose very soon!
Allulose tastes very similar to table sugar
Every sweetener out there has different taste, texture and feel to it. And that is what makes allulose stand out from the rest of the sweeteners. Being almost identical to table sugar in terms of taste and texture, other than the benefits we talked about above this is one of the most prominent selling points of allulose.
Allulose is a very versatile sweetener
Another great thing with allulose is that, because it performs like sugar, there are virtually no limitations on what foods and beverages in which it can be used. In baking, it provides browning similar to regular full-calorie table sugar.
Also, because of its texture, it is easily distributed in dough and batter without the need to mix in water first. The freezing point of allulose allows it to be easily used in ice cream and other frozen products.
Is allulose safe?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for assuring the safety and security of the US’s food supply, allulose is considered to be Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), and all studies up until this moment haven’t reported any adverse side-effects other than the usual responses to excessive doses, as it is with every other food/supplement/medication out there.
Two animal studies, one examining rats and the other dogs, concluded that long-term allulose consumption caused no harmful effects and exhibited no dietary toxicity. Another study, this time where adult men and women were the subjects of the testing, confirmed that long-term (12 weeks) consumption of allulose caused no abnormal effects whatsoever.
Some people have reported diarrhea and gastrointestinal discomfort after consuming a lot of allulose on a daily basis, so that could be one thing to look out for. Just use it in moderation and you will be fine!
Other Alternatives To Allulose
Since we are all different, if for some reason allulose doesn’t agree with the way your body works and gives you some issues like gas, bloating, or diarrhea, there are a few other great keto-friendly alternatives that you can try!
Stevia is an herb, which is an extract called stevia glycosides, is used as a sugar substitute and a sweetener. It is a natural sweetener, and it’s considered to be nonnutritive, which means it contains little to no calories or carbohydrates. Stevia has a glycemic index of 0 and has no impact at all on insulin and blood glucose.
Overall, it’s a very good sweetener but a lot of people don’t like its aftertaste.
If it says on the label that it contains a significant amount of carbs or calories, make sure to check the Ingredients label and see if it’s pure stevia or it’s mixed with stuff like maltodextrin or sugar alcohols like isomalt.
There are some brands out there that brand the product as Stevia, but when you look at the ingredients you can see that the product is made of 90% maltodextrin and only a little bit of stevia which is very misleading, so just be aware of this.
Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo or longevity fruit, is a fruit native to regions of Southeast Asia, including some parts of China and Thailand.
The extracts and compounds of the fruit are called mogrosides, which have antioxidant properties and are actually the part of the fruit that gives the sweetness to the Monk Fruit sweeteners out there.
Same as stevia, monk fruit is a calorie-free sweetener and has a glycemic index of 0 so it’s another great option if you do Keto. It’s around 150–200 times as sweet as sugar and doesn’t have the aftertaste that stevia has which a lot of people don’t like.
Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol which is used as an alternative sweetener and it has 70% of the sweetness of actual table sugar. Like stevia and monk fruit, it’s 0 on the glycemic index so it does not increase your blood sugars or insulin levels.
Bacteria have a hard time consuming this ‘sugar’, so you’re not gonna have as many digestive problems with erythritol as other sugar alcohols like Maltitol can cause.
A lot of erythritol products also contain a type of soluble fiber called inulin, which can cause bloating and gas so you would be better off if you can find one that is straight up erythritol.
And even though the name ‘Erythritol’ is such a chemical-sounding name which can throw some people off, erythritol is just a plant-fiber and it’s very natural.
Sucralose is a type of artificial sweetener that is not ‘recognized’ by the body and is not metabolized, meaning it passes through your body totally undigested and provides no calories or carbs.
Pure sucralose is 0 on the glycemic index and it’s 600 times as sweet as table sugar, so you only need to use a very small amount of it.
As it’s the case with the other sweeteners, make sure to read the product label and beware of sucralose products like Splenda which is 95% maltodextrin and just 5% sucralose.
Xylitol is another type of sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in the fibers of certain fruits and vegetables. It tastes very similar to table sugar, has 40% fewer calories than sugar and it’s 7 on the glycemic index scale.
It’s GI is pretty low, but it could raise your blood sugar levels a bit if you consume large quantities of it.
With that said, it’s definitely not a favorite among people following low-carb diets but it’s not that bad if you can’t find or tolerate the other sweeteners.
And just a final note, it can be deadly to dogs in very small amounts, so if you keep a dog at home it’s not the best idea to keep xylitol around the house.
Final Thoughts on Allulose
Allulose is a great option if you are looking for a low-carb sweetener that has a great taste and won’t mess with your insulin and blood glucose levels.
Current research and scientific studies suggest that Allulose is safe for Keto and other similar low-carb diets. It doesn’t have any noticeable impact on the glycemic index or insulin response because it’s not metabolized by the body.
Researchers found allulose to be well-tolerated without causing any gastrointestinal issues, but it might cause discomfort to some people if taken in very large amounts.
It’s a relatively new sweetener compared to some others so we can expect to see a lot more research on it in the future.
Does allulose count as a carb?
Even though it is not metabolized by the body and does not contribute any calories, allulose is a form of sugar, so it does count toward the total sugar and carbohydrate grams shown on food labels. For people counting carbohydrates, an easy way to calculate the real amount of carbs is to subtract the amount of allulose (grams) that the product contains from the Total Carbohydrates listed on the nutrition facts label.
How do I figure out net carbs?
To get the ‘net’ amount of carbs from a product you always need to take the fiber content into account. Us humans don’t have the enzymes that could digest most fiber and derive calories from it. As a result, fiber does not really affect blood sugar levels and ketosis.
On product labels, most frequently the fiber is included in the total carbohydrate content. So, to calculate the ‘net’ carbs what we need to do is subtract the fiber (grams) from the Total Carbohydrates content listed on the label.
For an example: if per 100g, a product has 10 grams of carbohydrates from which 8 grams are fiber, we take the 8 grams of fiber out of the 10 carbs and we get a total of only 2 ‘net’ carbs.
Where to buy allulose?
As it’s a relatively new sweetener, it can be hard to find or even impossible depending on where you live. You might get lucky to find it in a health food store in your area, but if you can’t, there’s always the option to order it online from websites like Amazon or eBay.