Sugar alcohols such as maltitol and xylitol, and non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine and sucralose (Splenda), can give food a sweet flavor without the calories found in the different forms of sugar. For instance, a half cup of sugar-free ice cream has around 100 calories as compared to regular ice cream's 150. Switching to yogurt flavored with Splenda can save about 70 calories, and choosing a non-calorie drink can trim 150 or more!
Switch to sugar-free candy, and you may save even more calories. Just be sure to check the nutrition panel on the package, watch the serving size, and account for any calories you consume.
If sugar-free foods can help you lose weight, then in that way they can play a role in improving your health. But sweets should be considered treats, and kept to a minimum.
Some people have reported sensitivities to these substances, and for some large quantities cause gas and diarrhea. People with diabetes need to account for the carbohydrate content in their overall meal plan. And while the FDA has approved these substances as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), the once-popular saccharine was later determined to be a potential cancer-causing agent.
Always remember that learning to eat well and exercise is the only solution to long-term weight loss.
Megan Porter, RD