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A sweetener that has no impact on blood sugar levels? It may sound too good to be true, but it exists! Allulose is a low-carb sweetener that was approved by the FDA in 2012 and it truly does show little to no impact on blood sugar levels.
Allulose, also known as “d-psicose" in the world of science, can be derived from corn or fructose or found naturally occurring in maple syrup, brown sugar, wheat, and some dried fruits.
While it contains about 70% of the sweetness of white sugar, it brings just 0.4 calories per gram vs. table sugar’s 4 calories per gram.
It Tastes Like Sugar, but Doesn’t Raise My Blood Sugar?
“Gram for gram, allulose has approximately 90% fewer calories than sucrose,” according to Food Insights.
In fact, it’s not metabolized by your body at all like regular sugar. Instead, Food Insights explains, it's absorbed into your small intestine and leaves the body through urine, which is why it doesn’t raise your blood sugar.
(Now if only pizza and chocolate cake with buttercream frosting worked that way.)
Unlike “all natural” low-carb sweeteners like “sugar alcohols,” allulose doesn’t have that not-so-pleasant side-effect of gas and bloating because 70% of it is actually excreted through your urine, according to a study from Japan’s Matsutani Chemical Industry.
They also found that it doesn’t ferment in the gut like sugar alcohols which is what also contributes to the gas and bloating you get from a box of “sugar-free” Russell Stover chocolates.
Is Allulose a Sugar Alcohol?
Despite its chemical makeup, allulose is not actually a sugar alcohol. It's instead classified as a "rare sugar," which are monosaccharides found in small amounts in nature. Other rare sugars include tagatose, sorbose, and xylulose.
Allulose and sugar alcohols are metabolized differently by the body. Sugar alcohols are partially absorbed, meaning that they can cause digestive issues such as bloating and diarrhea. Allulose is absorbed by the body, but not metabolized.
Studies on Allulose: Show Me the Proof
Allulose’s nearly low zero impact on blood sugar levels is well understood in theory, but only a handful of studies have been conducted in humans
Here are a couple:
- A small, double-blind study on allulose in patients with type 2 diabetes showed that “small doses of fructose or allulose did not show a significant effect on plasma glucose.”
- Another small study done on people without diabetes found that allulose may actually have a glucose lowering effect
Allulose and the FDA
Just about as soon as allulose hit the market, companies selling products containing it started petitioning the FDA to change how allulose is represented on nutrition labels.
Originally, the FDA declared that it must be accounted for in the grams of Total Sugars, Added Sugars, and Total Carbohydrates. In 2016, the FDA applied the standard carbohydrate value of four calories per gram.
In 2020, the FDA reversed its decision and now, allulose only needs to be accounted for in the number of Total Carbohydrates. It also updated its standard calories for one gram of allulose to be 0.4 kcal.
It's Popping Up Everywhere
We’ve put together a few deliciously reviewed products that contain fewer than five grams of net carbohydrates, after subtracting allulose and dietary fiber:
- KNOW Better Cookies: These cookies contain 3 to 6 grams of net carbs depending on the flavor.
- Quest Hero Bars:These bars contain 4 grams of net carbs, but keep in mind that their ingredients are a little more complicated. They do also contain erythritol in addition to allulose, which can bother your stomach a bit.
- ChipMonk Cookies: We love these ooey, gooey deliciously low-carb cookies that have 1 to 3 grams of net carbs from ChipMonk, a company founded by Jose Herndandez after a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
- Smart Cookie Birthday Cake Dough: This decadent eat-from-the-jar cookie dough clocks in at 2 grams of net carbs per serving.
You can also buy granulated allulose for your baking needs or your coffee, but be sure to read the ingredients of any allulose product carefully to be sure you’re aware of other sweeteners or fillers they may have added to it.
This article has been clinically reviewed by Alexa Stelzer, RDN, LD, CDCES, clinical health coach at One Drop.