Allulose vs. Erythritol: Which is Better for Diabetes?

Sugar alternatives, like allulose and erythritol, are common in food products advertising net carbs, low sugar, or low calorie. As a dietitian living with type 1 diabetes, allulose and erythritol are not unfamiliar terms. 

With the large number of sugar alternatives in today’s food industry, it can be challenging to know what is best to use when managing diabetes. 

This article will cover key differences and similarities among two popular sugar alternatives: allulose and erythritol. 

***Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored in any way.  If you end up purchasing a product from any of my links in this post, I may earn a small commission through the Amazon Affiliate Program at no extra cost to you.***

What are sugar alternatives?

Sugar alternatives, or sugar substitutes, are exactly what they sound like. They substitute regular ol’ sugar in a food product to reduce the amount of sugar and/or calories. 

Artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and non-nutritive sweeteners are all sugar alternatives. 

What is allulose?

Allulose is a sugar alternative found naturally in some foods like raisins and brown sugar. It’s also chemically made from a type of sugar called fructose (1).

What is erythritol?

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in food sources like fruits and vegetables or commercially made through fermentation methods (2). You can also find it in personal care products like toothpaste and mouthwash.

Nutritional comparison

Nutritionally, allulose and erythritol are basically the same. They are both essentially calorie and carb free with zero nutritional value (calories, vitamins, minerals, etc). 

Allulose tastes almost as sweet as sucrose, or table sugar, but contains far less calories. For comparison, table sugar contains 4 calories per gram while allulose contains 0.4 calories per gram (3).

The sweetness level of erythritol is similar to allulose; it tastes a little less sweet than sugar and contains 0 calories per gram (4).

Impact on blood sugars

In terms of raising blood sugar, both allulose and erythritol have minimal to no impact. This is because our bodies do not break them down during digestion for energy like regular sugar. 

Allulose and blood sugars

Even though it tastes sweet, allulose will not raise blood sugar. 

One study found allulose may help decrease post meal blood sugars in healthy adults and those with prediabetes after participants were given a meal containing a blend of carbs, protein, and fat along with 5 grams of allulose (5). 

Findings from another small study report adding allulose to three meals for patients with type 2 diabetes in the hospital significantly reduced post meal blood sugars compared to a strict diabetes diet with the same calories and menu (5). 

Erythritol and blood sugars

Despite its sweet taste, erythritol is ranked 0 on the glycemic index scale, meaning it has zero impact on blood sugars (4). Depending on the type, other sugar alcohols can raise blood sugar, just not as high as regular sugar. (4). 

Taste and texture

The taste, texture, and function of allulose is very similar to other sugars (6). It doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste like some sugar alternatives.

Erythritol does have a large cooling effect once dissolved, but has little to no after taste. It’s often mixed with other sweeteners to improve mouth feel and reduce their irritant effects (7).

Health benefits and concerns

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and potential concerns for allulose and erythritol.

Weight management

Allulose and erythritol seem to be beneficial for weight management. When replacing sugar, allulose and erythritol make higher calorie foods like ice cream and baked goods into lower calorie foods.

Allulose has been found to make your stomach release hormones that help control your appetite (2).

Another recent study found that eating erythritol lowers the levels of ghrelin, a hormone that causes hunger, in healthy people (2).

Digestion

Erythritol is typically well tolerated without causing unpleasant side effects like diarrhea which is often the case with other sugar alcohols. Its higher tolerance means it can be used in products like diet drinks without causing digestive issues for most people (4).

As for allulose, one study found a limit of 0.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight can be consumed without causing digestive side effects for most people (8).

This means if you weigh 68.2 kilograms (150 pounds), you can consume roughly 27.3 grams of allulose at once without any potential GI side effects. 

Safety

The use of sugar alternatives may cause concerns for some people. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labels both erythritol and allulose as GRAS, or ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’. 

According to the FDA’s website on GRAS substances, safety can be proven in two ways: through strong scientific evidence or by showing that people have been using the substance safely for a long time (4, 9).

Baking and cooking information

If you plan to use these sugar alternatives in your kitchen, there are a few things you need to know.

Allulose

Allulose browns, bakes, and caramelizes just like sugar. A benefit to using allulose while cooking is that it helps to thicken and stabilize breads, biscuits, and meat dishes (6). 

Since allulose isn’t quite as sweet as sugar, you’ll need to use a bit more in recipes calling for sugar. For example, if you substitute allulose for sugar in a recipe calling for 1 cup of sugar, you’ll need to use about 1 and ⅓ cups of allulose. 

Erythritol

As for erythritol, it too bakes like sugar. You can typically use the same measurement for recipes. For example, when substituting erythritol for 1 cup of sugar, you can use 1 cup of erythritol. 

I will say, I did try a low carb muffin recipe using erythritol as my sweetener. While the taste was good, I did get a bit of that cooling effect in each bite from the erythritol. It wasn’t terrible, but I could have done without it. 

An infographic showing similarities and differences of allulose vs. erythritol.

Availability and cost

From my own experience, erythritol seems to be more common in grocery stores versus allulose. 

One popular brand selling erythritol for various baking methods is called Swerve. I often find these products in the sugar aisle of the store. 

And because more time, energy, and resources are put into making these sugar alternatives, the cost for us buying them or the products using them is higher.

Here is a cost comparison of sugar, allulose, and erythritol found on Amazon:

Personal considerations

After seeing the large price difference between sugar and alternatives like erythritol and allulose, you can decide what’s best for your health goals and budget. 

Maybe buying products that boast ‘net carbs’ or ‘keto’ isn’t doable or desirable for you. That’s absolutely ok! There are ways to enjoy sweets while living with diabetes and managing your blood sugar.

Some ways that I manage my blood sugars while enjoying a sweet include:

  • Going for a walk or doing some light stretching or yoga before or after eating to help cells take in that sugar
  • Eat the sweet WITH a meal that has protein and fiber to help slow digestion and minimize blood sugar spike
  • Choose a smaller portion. Instead of a regular size candy bar, I like to have a ‘fun size’. Less of the sweet = less carbs = less of a rise in blood sugar

And by no means do I get it right every time. I learn from each situation and move on. 

Favorite products that contain allulose or erythritol 

While I’m all for eating “the real thing”, sometimes I do enjoy blood sugar-friendly alternatives while fully realizing I don’t always have to choose these options. 

As a dietitian living with type 1 diabetes, here are some of my personal favorite products using erythritol or allulose:

Final thoughts

With so many sugar alternative options out there, it’s important to know the differences between them to make the best choice for you. 

When it comes to allulose and erythritol, they’re essentially the same in terms of sweetness level, safety, and how they impact blood sugars. 

When picking between the two, think about what works best for you—what you like, how your stomach reacts, and what fits your budget. 

Need more help with diabetes nutrition? Check out these resources:

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