How to Figure Sugar Alcohol in Carbs

How to Figure Sugar Alcohol in Carbs

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You can find sugar alcohols on the nutrition facts label.

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Sugar alcohols are a type of reduced-calorie sweetener that provide fewer calories than sugar. Consumption of sugar alcohols can be beneficial for people with diabetes because they have less of an effect on blood sugar than sugar does. They should be factored in when counting carbohydrates only when there are 5 or more grams of sugar alcohol per serving. When you count carbohydrates, you'll need to read a nutrient facts label and plan your meals using the serving size listed.


Locate the nutrition facts label on the product you are going to consume. The best way to control the quantity and portions you are eating is to know the serving size of each food.


Become familiar with the nutrition facts label, especially if you have diabetes. The label will list the number of grams of carbohydrate, and break that down into the different types of carbohydrate. Three types of carbohydrates are starches, sugars and fiber, which are found in foods such as grains, beans, starchy vegetables, fruit and milk. Find the total number of grams of carbohydrates, which will include starches, sugars and fiber as well as sugar alcohol.


Locate the number of grams of sugar alcohol. If the product contains sugar alcohols, the number of grams will be listed under the total carbohydrates on the label. Include the number of grams of sugar alcohol when you are counting carbohydrates only when there are more than 5 grams per serving. The American Diabetes Association notes that sugar alcohols have about 50 percent fewer calories on average than sugar and therefore have less of an effect on your blood sugar.


Subtract half the grams of sugar alcohols from the total carbohydrates and use the remaining number of grams as your total carbohydrate grams per serving. For example, if there are 20 grams of total carbohydrates and 8 grams of sugar alcohol in one serving, than you subtract four from 20 and get 16 grams of carbohydrate to use as your carbohydrate count.

Things Needed

  • Nutrition facts label
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Knife


  • Sugar alcohols can be added into shelf-stable foods or to hot beverages or cereal. Some sugar alcohols you may see in an ingredient list are mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Sugar alcohols can be found in candies, syrups, ice creams, baked goods, yogurt, canned fruit and other foods.


  • Sugar alcohols can have a laxative effect and cause gastrointestinal distress in some people. If you do have some side effects, cutting back on the serving size can help you to continue including sugar alcohols in your diet.


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