Log In
Blog /
Tips & tricks Health & science
8 min read

Does Erythritol Break a Fast?

Profile Picture
Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD December 28, 2022

Intermittent fasting (IF) gained popularity as a weight loss method in recent years. Alongside its ability to help you lose weight, IF can improve blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and stall the effects of aging.

Just like all good things, intermittent fasting is not without its faults. Some of the most common side effects of intermittent fasting are poor sleep, fatigue, headaches, and, the strongest one of all, food cravings.

Did you know that it’s possible to satisfy those food cravings even during an active fasting period? If your brain is craving sugar, you can trick it by having a zero-calorie sweetener.

Numerous additives (both natural and artificial sweeteners) can help you satisfy that sweet tooth without breaking your fast. Is erythritol one of them?

Take a
1-minute quiz

and discover how much weight you can lose with DoFasting!

Does Erythritol Break a Fast?

No, erythritol will not break your fast, considering that you will consume it in small amounts. There are several reasons why you can have erythritol while fasting.

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol and contains very few calories. Abstaining from calories is a core component of intermittent fasting. When you haven’t consumed calories for a longer period of time, your insulin levels drop, allowing your body to start burning stored fat for energy instead of sugar.

This process is interrupted when you consume calories, specifically in the form of carbohydrates and fats. That’s why you’re not even allowed to sweeten your drinks with sugar or honey, as they will spike insulin production. Check out this list of foods and beverages that will break a fast to get a clearer understanding.

Unlike sugar, however, erythritol is virtually calorie-free, meaning it won’t affect your blood sugar levels when consumed moderately.

Unfortunately, erythritol is not a great option when it comes down to improving your gut health. If you’re fasting for gut rest, you’ll have to steer clear of erythritol as it stimulates the digestive system. Opt for natural sweeteners instead.

What Is Erythritol, and Why Is It Used?

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that mainly serves as a sugar substitute. It occurs naturally in some fruits (grapes, pears, and watermelons) as well as fermented foods (mushrooms, cheese, and soy sauce) and beverages (wine and sake).

One teaspoon of erythritol has around 0 calories and contains:

  • Carbohydrates: 4g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Fat: 0g

The caloric content of erythritol is so small that, in most cases, it’s introduced as a zero-calorie sweetener. This makes it a popular choice among individuals who are trying to lose weight.

As you can see, erythritol is made up entirely of carbohydrates and does not offer any nutritional value. This doesn’t mean that erythritol is unhealthy. Quite the opposite, in fact. Considering that erythritol is a calorie-free sweetener, it can help you cut your sugar intake and maintain oral health, among other things.

Reasons Why You Should Replace Sugar With Erythritol

This sugar alcohol is not a simple sweetener. Aside from promoting weight loss by cutting your sugar intake, erythritol offers unique health benefits not found in other artificial sweeteners.

Does not slow down weight loss

Excess consumption of sugar greatly contributes to weight gain. These sugars come in a variety of forms – cookies, chips, sweets, sodas, and other processed foods. Considering that the average American consumes around 20 teaspoons of sugar a day, it’s no wonder that obesity is on the rise. It can be highly beneficial to cut your sugar intake whenever possible.

By swapping out your table sugar for erythritol, you cut excess sugar intake and limit your calories. Use erythritol the same way you would sugar to:

  • Sweeten up your cup of tea or coffee.
  • Cook, bake and make sauces. Remember to use less, however, as erythritol is much sweeter than sugar.

This alone won’t make you lose weight, but it will make managing your body weight just a little easier. Weight loss is a long process based on building healthy habits. A great way to instill a healthy habit is to track your progress. Check out the DoFasting app where you can log in your daily calorie intake and follow your weight loss journey.

Take a
1-minute quiz

and discover how much weight you can lose with DoFasting!

Suitable for people with diabetes

Erythritol has little to no effect on blood glucose levels and does not trigger an insulin response. This makes it a safe sugar substitute for diabetics and pre-diabetics as long as erythritol is consumed in moderate amounts. It’s recommended not to go over 10-15 grams of erythritol per day.

Unlike the name suggests, sugar alcohols contain no alcohol or sugar, however, they are mostly made up of carbohydrates. The latter can cause a blood sugar spike making it important to track your carbohydrate intake for blood sugar management.

May reduce the risk of heart disease

For the longest time, artificial sweeteners have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. However, some studies suggest that erythritol has a protective effect on blood vessels.

Research has shown that erythritol has antioxidant properties that may reduce blood vessel damage in individuals with hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). The latter is a major factor in heart disease.

It’s important to note that these studies have been done on animals making them quite limited. More research is needed to understand the effects of erythritol on humans.

Good for dental health

Erythritol, like other sugar alcohols, promotes dental health. In fact, recent studies have shown that erythritol may be the best at protecting your teeth when comparing it to other sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol.

How can something sweet be good for your teeth? Unlike sugar, erythritol cannot be metabolized by mouth bacteria which is responsible for tooth decay. Cavities form when the bacteria in your mouth metabolize sugar and turn it into harmful acids. Erythritol does not contribute to the process of tooth decay.

Therefore, by switching out regular sugar for erythritol, you minimize the chances of a tooth cavity forming in your mouth.

Possible Side Effects

Erythritol has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe to be used as a food additive. However, this does not mean that erythritol does not have side effects.

Like most sugar alcohols, erythritol is not fully absorbed by your body. This means that if you consume large amounts of erythritol, you may experience issues with your digestive system. It’s the main reason you should stay away from erythritol when fasting for gut health.

Possible side effects of excessive erythritol consumption include:

  • Bloating
  • Stomach cramps
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Studies have shown that erythritol stimulates the same gut hormones that are released during food intake. In other words, erythritol consumption will most definitely interrupt gut rest. Although it’s important to note that out of all sugar alcohols, erythritol is the best tolerated, even in large amounts.

Other Fasting-Friendly Sweeteners

Some of the erythritol’s downsides may be deal-breakers for you. Not to worry. There are numerous zero-calorie sweeteners that will meet your expectations. Let’s have a look at some of the most common sweeteners that you can consume while fasting.

Stevia

Stevia is one of the most popular sugar substitutes available on the market. It’s a natural sweetener made out of the leaves of the stevia plant.

The unique thing about stevia is that it can be up to 400 times sweeter than sugar. This means you will need only a little to achieve the same level of sweetness as sugar.

Like most sugar substitutes, stevia has a unique sweet taste that’s different from sugar. It has a metallic aftertaste that some people just can’t get used to.

If you want to start substituting stevia for sugar, be patient. It will take some time for your tongue to adjust to this new taste, but once it’s set in, you will not feel a difference.

Monk fruit

This unique sweetener has been becoming more and more popular over the years. Why? Monk fruit is a natural sweetener without any calories or carbohydrates. This means it will not raise your blood sugar levels and won’t break your fast. It’s a great alternative for people trying to cut their sugar intake.

Monk fruit is extracted from the monk fruit plant native to southern China. Manufacturers must import it for processing making it quite an expensive sugar substitute.

Like all sugar substitutes, monk fruit does not taste exactly like sugar. However, consumers report that it comes pretty close.

Xylitol

Just like erythritol, xylitol is a type of sugar alcohol. It shares many of the same properties as erythritol. For instance, xylitol is a common ingredient in chewing gum, mints, and oral care products due to its antibacterial properties.

A gram of xylitol has around 2 calories making it a perfect addition to an intermittent fasting window. Although, if you’re fasting for gut health, you should opt for a different sugar substitute. Xylitol stimulates the digestive tract and will interrupt gut rest.

Where can you find it? Its calorie content is so little that xylitol often ends up in the aisle of zero-calorie sweeteners.

Take a
1-minute quiz

and discover how much weight you can lose with DoFasting!

Does Erythritol Break a Fast: Final Thoughts

Erythritol is an excellent alternative to sugar. It contains little to no calories, doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels, and won’t break your fast.

When you’re overwhelmed by sugar cravings, choose erythritol to make your intermittent fasting journey just a little bit smoother. Erythritol is sweeter than sugar and will satiate your sweet tooth just as quickly.

Author

Profile Picture
Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

See how DoFasting will improve your life

Find out what works for you with this 60-sec quiz approved by our experts and get your personal revolutionary fasting assistant.

Start the Quiz
Image
Take a 1-minute quiz and discover how much weight you can lose with DoFasting!
Start the quiz