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Weight loss is an issue many mamas struggle with. So, a lot of us turn to low carbohydrate or keto diets in an effort to lose the fat. Because these diets focus on cutting out most sugar and carbs, there’s a big demand for sugar alternatives that are low carb and keto-friendly.
The food industry has definitely stepped up to meet the demand. Now, more than ever before, there are tons of natural and artificial sugar substitutes on the shelf. The trick is to figure out which ones are truly beneficial and which do more harm than good.
What Is Allulose?
Allulose is a naturally occurring simple sugar (“monosaccharide”) like glucose and fructose. At 0.4 calories per gram, it’s 1/10 the calories of regular sugar, which comes in at 4 calories for every gram (¼ teaspoon). However, it’s not quite as sweet. It comes in at about 70% of the sweetness of real sugar.
Another name for allulose is D-psicose (which you may see on food labels, but it’s primarily used in the scientific community.) While it can be found in certain whole foods, it’s a lot less common than other sugars like glucose, fructose, or lactose. And it only occurs in small amounts. In fact, it’s considered a “rare sugar.”
Foods that naturally contain allulose in higher amounts are things like Worcestershire sauce, raisins, dried figs, brown sugar, maple syrup, and ketchup.
The food industry makes a concentrated allulose sweetener by first processing corn and breaking it into starch and fructose. Enzymes convert fructose into allulose. So, commercially-produced allulose really comes from fructose.
Because it is made from a frequently genetically modified crop (corn), it’s important to look for a non-GMO label when buying allulose. Otherwise, consuming allulose may do more harm than good.
How Is Allulose Used in Food?
Many brands use allulose in food products available at your local grocery store and online. It’s added to things like syrups, cereals, sauces, snack bars, baked goods, candy, and ice cream.
Companies are excited about allulose because it helps reduce the added sugar and calorie count on the nutrition facts label. Consumers are happy to have fewer calories and net carbs in their favorite foods.
There are commercially produced allulose sweeteners that you can find at your local natural foods store or grocery store.
Allulose can be purchased as a substitute for table sugar (sucrose). It’s white and granulated, just like the real thing. You can also find it in liquid form, like simple syrup.
Outside food, allulose may also be used in nutritional supplements like protein powders.
Benefits of Allulose
The main health benefits of allulose are lowering blood sugar levels, calorie reduction, and weight loss. It may also help lower inflammation levels.
Lowering Blood Sugar
While artificial sweeteners spike blood sugar, natural sugar alternatives, like allulose, may actually lower blood glucose levels. That’s an amazing side-benefit of consuming a sweetener!
Blood sugar is an important health marker to monitor if you want to know how well your metabolism is working. You can learn more about how to use a continuous glucose monitor to optimize your health here.
Allulose actually helps support balanced blood sugar levels in a few different ways. To begin with, allulose is considered a low glycemic sweetener. That means it doesn’t cause your blood sugar to spike when you consume it. A famous low glycemic sweetener is honey.
Allulose can also help to lower blood sugar. It does this by improving insulin levels and helping the blood sugar get into the cells faster. That helps remove the sugar from your blood sooner, keeping your blood sugar levels low.
A 2010 study in 26 adults involved drinking allulose-sweetened tea with meals. Blood sugar levels were tested while fasting and then after the meal. After 30 minutes and 60 minutes, blood sugar levels had gone down significantly.
Allulose has also been shown to protect the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. As you can see, this sweetener helps with blood sugar control from all different directions.
Supporting a Healthy Weight
Keeping your blood sugar balanced is an important part of getting to a healthy weight. However, allulose helps support weight loss beyond just lowering blood sugar levels. It has been shown to reduce the fat you carry on your body.
In an animal study, supplementing allulose alongside a high-carb diet prevented the accumulation of body fat on this diet. Overall weight gain was also suppressed by consuming allulose.
Because it increases the release of gut hormone GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1), it also helps to promote a feeling of satiety after you consume it. GLP-1 slows down the emptying of food from the digestive system and sends the brain a message of “Satisfied! Not hungry.”
That helps reduce your food intake and makes calorie restriction a lot easier.
A sugar that reduces inflammation? Possibly. Animal studies suggest that allulose may have an anti-inflammatory effect. Inflammation is one of those necessary evils that might be considered a “double-edged sword.”
While inflammation is helpful in the short term, ramping up the immune system and helping us heal, chronic inflammation is associated with a huge number of diseases and conditions. It’s involved in allergies and asthma, autoimmune disease, cancer, heart disease, and every kind of “-itis” out there.
In an animal study, allulose was shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on fat cells.
A follow-up study looked into how allulose worked to lower inflammation. The results showed that allulose works on the genes and gut microbes. It changes how genes express and increases certain bacteria strains in the gut.
Researchers are even using allulose specifically as a prebiotic.
As the study above mentioned, using allulose as a sweetener could be helpful for conditions of obesity and type 2 diabetes. It could also benefit a lot of other health issues.
However, seeking out medical advice from your doctor/health practitioner on how to address these conditions is important.
Supporting Liver Health
Some animal studies of allulose show positive effects on the liver. Mostly, it’s that allulose can reduce fat storage in the liver. In short, if you can improve gut health, you will improve liver health. The portal vein connects the gut and the liver. That’s important for avoiding a fatty liver, like in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
In a mouse study, supplementing with allulose helped to reduce fat build-up in the liver and reduce body fat. A Korean study confirmed that allulose specifically reduced cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver.
Risks & Side Effects of Allulose
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given allulose “GRAS” status, which means it’s Generally Recognized As Safe for human consumption. Allulose can be a great sweetener for many people; however, it doesn’t sit well with everyone.
High Doses Can Cause Digestive Problems
Most people seem to tolerate allulose in small quantities. However, in higher amounts, allulose can cause digestive and other issues like the following:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Lack of appetite
What’s considered a tolerable dose? According to research in healthy young adults, no one had symptoms when the amount was less than 0.4 grams per kilogram of body weight.
That means staying around 20-40 grams for most people, which is 5 to 10 teaspoons or about ? to a little less than ¼ cup.
If you don’t tolerate allulose, there are plenty of other low-calorie sweeteners out there to try. You can also blend allulose with other natural sweeteners to lessen any negative effects.
How Allulose Compares to Other Sugar Alternatives
Allulose has pros and cons compared to other natural sugar alternatives like stevia, monk fruit, and sugar alcohols. The kids love it in their favorite cereal Magic Spoon.
Allulose vs. Stevia
Many people don’t like stevia as an option because it can have an aftertaste. Compared to stevia, allulose doesn’t seem to have an aftertaste. It truly tastes a lot like regular sugar.
Stevia is also usually found in a concentrate and is only used in small quantities. Allulose is granulated, like sugar, so you can measure it in the same way. However, if you want the same sweetness, you’ll have to add a little more allulose than you would sugar.
Allulose vs. Erythritol or Xylitol
Allulose is a good option to consider if you don’t tolerate sugar alcohols like erythritol or xylitol. While it also has the potential for causing digestive issues, it has a different chemical makeup than sugar alcohols, so it may not be a problem.
Sugar alcohols can also have a “cooling” sensation in the mouth, which some people might not like. Allulose doesn’t have that effect and is much more similar to regular sugar.
Allulose is also better for weight loss than erythritol. In an animal study of these two sweeteners, it was the allulose that reduced obesity and symptoms that go along with obesity. It lowered inflammation and liver fat. It also changed the bacteria in the gut to a more favorable composition.
Allulose vs. Monk Fruit
Monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii) is also known as Luo han gao. While allulose is 70% as sweet as sugar, monk fruit is 250 times as sweet as sugar. Monk fruit also may have a distinct (often “fruity”) taste, whereas the taste of allulose is more comparable to that of white granulated sugar.
If you tend to have digestive issues with sugar alcohols or other sugar substitutes, monk fruit may be a better option than allulose.
Where to Find Allulose
Allulose is available at health food stores, online, and even some grocery stores. Thrive Market has chocolate bars and chocolate chips made with allulose. You can also find non-GMO allulose sweeteners on Amazon. Try Wholesome Sweeteners Granulated Allulose or Wholesome Yum’s Powdered Allulose. You can even try a liquid version with Wholesome Sweeteners’ liquid Allulose.
With all its positive health effects — especially for weight loss — you’ll likely be seeing this sweetener pop up in more foods and health-conscious retail stores.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Tim Jackson. He is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Orthopedic Rehabilitation, and a Functional Medicine provider. He holds a B.S. Degree in Health Science and Chemistry from Wake Forest University. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Have you tried allulose? How does it work for you, and what do you use it for? Share with us below!