Is Xylitol Keto Friendly?

  • Date: May 2, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

In short, xylitol is keto-friendly, if you are eating a ‘dirty’ keto diet. However, if you have furry friends in the house you may need to be careful as it can be dangerous for certain pets. Read on and we will take you through how to use this keto-friendly sweetener.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. It is extracted and processed leaving white crystals, which look very similar to table sugar.

It acts the same as regular sugar and can be substituted on a 1:1 basis for granulated sugar.

It does not have an aftertaste, which can be found with some keto sweeteners.

Does Xylitol have an Insulin Response for the Keto Diet?

Xylitol is calorie-free and doesn’t spike blood glucose levels. i.e have an insulin response, making it perfect for the keto diet.

By not spiking your blood glucose levels, it is less likely to cause cravings for sweet foods by helping keep your insulin (blood sugar) levels regulated.

This means that xylitol, will not kick you out of ketosis.

If you are new to keto or want to know more about the foods you can and cannot eat on keto, check out our Keto Beginners Guide.

What are Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, have a chemical structure that is similar to carbohydrates, but their molecules have a different arrangement.  This structure prevents the body from completely breaking down the ‘sugar’ and therefore it is not absorbed into your bloodstream in its entirety.

Sugar alcohols are only partially absorbed unlike traditional sugars, such as granulated sugar (table sugar), icing sugar, or brown sugar, which are wholly absorbed.

Instead, they are passed through the digestive system and expelled by the body as waste. This is why sugar alcohols are known as being ‘insoluble’.

This means that sugar alcohols are considered a “low-glycemic sweetener,” which means they won’t spike your blood sugar as quickly as traditional sugar.

Sugar alcohols are also called ‘polyols’. They have zero calories and can often be found in foods such as Skinny Syrups and a lot of keto-friendly goodies.

Polyols include Xylitol, Sorbitol, Erythritol, Isomalt, and Maltitol, just to name a few.

They are popular sugar substitutes in keto-friendly foods such as sugar-free mints, sweets, and baked treats.

List of Polyols

Polyols occur naturally in lots of foods, like fruit and vegetables, or can be manmade. It is the manmade polyols that are added as low-calorie sweeteners to a lot of ‘diet’ foods, including keto foods.

The polyols that you need to be looking out for on your nutritional labels are;

  • Acesulfame K
  • Alitame
  • Aspartame
  • Brazzein
  • Curculin
  • Cyclamate
  • Erythritol
  • Glycerol
  • Glycyrrhizin
  • Inulin
  • Isomalt
  • Lactitol
  • Luo Han Guo
  • Mannitol
  • Miraculin
  • Monellin
  • Neotame
  • Oligofructose
  • Pentadin
  • Saccharin
  • Sorbitol
  • Stevia
  • Sucralose
  • Thaumatin
  • Xylitol
  • Yacon Syrup

How to Count the Net Carbs from Xylitol?

All of the above score a 5 or less on the Glycaemic Index(GI), meaning they will not spike your blood pressure and therefore can be deducted in full from the total number of carbs listed on your nutritional label. 

For more on net carbs check out our article.

There is always an exception, and this time Xylitol is it!

Xylitol has a GI score of 12 (out of 100), which is still nowhere near as high as table sugar (granulated sugar), but as it is higher than the others, as such you only deduct half of the grams of Xylitol from your total carb count.

For sugar alcohols, deduct the grams of these from your total carb count EXCEPT Xylitol, only deduct HALF of the carbs from your total carb count.

How Does the Body Process Sugar Alcohol?

It’s important to note that different people react in different ways to sugar alcohols. Some people experience side effects with xylitol. 

These side effects can include, bloating, gas, and diarrhea, even when consumed in small amounts. If you have tried xylitol and have found you are experiencing these side effects, we would suggest trying stevia as it can be gentler on the stomach than xylitol

Keto sweets are the prime example of this, if you buy any sugar-free sweets, be careful as eating too many can soon have laxative effects.

Will Using Xylitol Cause Weight Gain?

Using xylitol in its own right will not cause weight gain on a keto diet. However, xylitol is a sweetener, so you are likely to be eating this in sweet products, which are not the ‘quality’ foods that we would really advocate you eating on a keto diet.

‘Sweet treats’ should be eaten sparingly and not eaten in quantity on a daily basis.

Here, we are realistic that a strict keto diet is not for everybody, and that for some, if you want to stay on a keto lifestyle, you will need to be able to eat a sweet dessert now and again.

Xylitol is considered a ‘dirty’ keto ingredient and should not be eaten if you are living a clean or strict keto lifestyle. If you don’t know whether you are a lazy, dirty, or strict ketoer, check out our article which will take you through everything you need to know.

Isy Xylitol Safe for Pets?

Xylitol is safe for humans, however, it is not safe for your pates. Due to the way that cats and dogs metabolize food consuming xylitol, can be fatal for dogs and cats.

It can be fatal in very small quantities. Our advice is, that if you have furry friends in your house, do not use xylitol in anything, use a different keto-friendly sweetener instead. It is not worth the risk to your pets.

If you think that your pet has inadvertently eaten xylitol, please contact your local vet for advice as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts: Can You Use Xylitol on the Keto Diet?

Yes, if you are living a ‘dirty keto’ lifestyle, you can use xylitol on the keto diet. It scores low on the glycaemic index, therefore will not spike your blood pressure. Just be mindful that with xylitol you only deduct half the number of carbs from xylitol due to it not being as low as some other sugar alcohols that can be used on the keto diet.

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