Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Maltodextrin, Splenda, and the Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking system for carbohydrates based on their effect on blood glucose levels. The higher the GI, the faster and bigger the corresponding insulin spike and thus potential weight gain.

Granular Splenda has 24 carbs per cup. I know that the label says "less than 1 g" but that is assuming a 1 teaspoon serving size. Sucralose is what makes Splenda sweet and it has virtually no carbs. The carbs from Splenda come from a filler called maltodextrin. This is used to give Splenda equal measure to sugar. The danger is that maltodextrin has an extremely high glycemic index of 105. This is 5 points higher than glucose which is 100. And, it is almost double that of table sugar which is around 59.

Don't get me wrong. Sugar has more than 8 times the carbohydrates of granulated Splenda. So, you are still better off eating granular Splenda. But carb-for-carb sugar is perhaps less unhealthy.

Splenda Quick Packs however are a special type of Splenda designed to quickly dissolve in liquids. Typically it is available in the KoolAide section of grocery stores. Splenda Quick Packs have less maltodextrin and only 4 net carbs per pack which is the equiv. to one cup of sugar. Therefore, if you are making a dessert that calls for one cup equiv. of sugar, using a quick pack instead of granular splenda spares you 20 carbs that would have had a high GI.

An even better alternative is Sweetzfree. Sweetzfree is a highly concentrated solution of sucralose in water. It has no filler other than the water and therefore has no measurable carbohydrates and no glycemic impact. This is what I use most often in my own kitchen. The price sounds high, $18.00 for a one ounce bottle. But keep in mind that this is the equivelent to 24 cups of sugar. It comes in a little dropper bottle. One drop equals a teaspoon of sugar. 1/4 teaspoon equals an entire cup of sugar. My wife sometimes keeps a small bottle of this in her purse. A single drop instantly turns tea into sweet tea. The downside is that Sweetzfree is only available online and due to limited supplies is only sold on certain days of the month. I'd love to see this product available in stores.

I wonder how long it will be before Splenda wisens up and sells concentrated sucralose? It seems that they are taking the other direction, combining granular splenda with regular forms of sugar marketed toward good tasting baked goods rather than the lowest carb diet baked goods. I would suspect that if they'd sell little dropper bottles that there'd be one heck of a market.


Jason said...

I had no idea that Splenda what so high in carbs... thanks for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

Hey Big Daddy,
Check this product out:

DaVinci Gourmet makes a plain sugar-free syrup (as well as other flavors) for coffee and other things--I started using this in my coffee a few days ago because I have the same concerns you do about the Splenda packets (less than one gram of carbohydrate? Right, but when I put four packets in my coffee........) but on the bottle of this syrup they advise that 1 pump (sold separately) equals one packet of Splenda--look, it ain't as sweet as the Splenda packet, but just like you said, there's not maltodextrin or dextrose as filler in the syrup--I just wish they had put more sucralose in there. But then again, the big bottle is eight bucks. Give a shot, no?

Emzi said...

Thanks for the info--good stuff to know.

And, thanks for the uplifting comment. Although, I do worry about disappointing all of you out there. Yall try so hard and get great result. I just sit back talk about doing low carb and then fail. I feel like such a fraud.

Ali said...

Hi- I stumbled upon your site while researching carb cycling. Just thought I'd let you know of a product called Stevia- a natural sweetner made from the root of the Stevia plant that has absolutely calorie-free, all-natural, and has ZERO glycemic index. Thirty times sweeter than sugar itself, a tiny packet packs quite a punch. I use the Sweetleaf brand which also offers powdered stevia infused with much-needed natural fiber (especially for those high-protien days, lol!).

It's available powdered (like Splenda, Equal, etc.), in tabs, in liquid form, and flavored (for coffee I guess).

I find mine at Wal-Mart, but here is their website so you can peruse the benefits of this fantastic natural product.

Ali said...

whoops- forgot to leave the website :p

Anonymous said...

Just got a big surprise about Splenda, since I just started going off all wheat products because of insulen spikes. Wheat comes in at a GI of 72 you all should check out the book, Wheat Belly. It will make you crazy just reading it, thanks for the info on Splenda.

Anonymous said...

Before buying Stevia In The Raw- Check the ingrediants- Maltodextrin. SweetLeaf packets are better. Not as sweet as Splenda, but better than nothing, and does provide sweetness with less GI spikes.

Gods Child said...

Concentrated or liquid stevia has no malto or other fillers.

Teresa said...

Thanks for the info. I'm doing Wheat Belly & have been using Splenda because it is so much cheaper than other products. I will stop immediately & do more research & I will order some sweetzfree if I can't find something locally.