Sugar is one of our biggest dietary problems. Thankfully, allulose solves this problem, but are there side effects?
With a culture that has poor management of dietary sugar – from added sugar in pasta sauces to habitual junk food snacking, we need to change.
Sweeteners and sugar alternatives are one of the main adaptations we’ve seen over the past few decades in an attempt to neuter the challenges of sugary foods. The idea is a simple one: sweet, but not sugary – sweeteners should provide sweetness without the negative health ramifications of over-eating sugar.
Allulose is one such sweetener and it’s the topic of today’s article. We’ve discussed Allulose before with plenty of depth, but today we’re going to dig into the side effects by showing the pros and cons of this emerging compound. Stick with us if you’re keen to learn what it can do for you, whether Allulose poses any risks, and what role it plays in other products.
What is Allulose?
Allulose is a low-calorie sweetener that is naturally-occurring but very rare. It only appears in a handful of foods in nature, primarily in figs and other high-quality plant foods.
With only 5-10% of the calories of sugar, Allulose definitely follows through on the name of a low-calorie sweetener. The low-calorie aspect of this sweetener is one of the reasons why it is increasingly popular as a sugar replacement and an alternative to traditional sweeteners.
Allulose is actually a “second generation” sugar alternative since it has been introduced and researched in an effort to replace aspartame and other early sweeteners. These earlier sweeteners are lower-quality and have a greater risk of digestive side-effects.
This is going to become clear later on when we discuss the pros and cons, but it’s a pretty important factor: this is a compound that has been manufactured to be a ‘version 2.0’ of existing sweeteners.
Unlike aspartame and other sweeteners that are purely industrial, Allulose both occurs naturally and is not a sugar alcohol.
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Pros of Allulose
The most obvious benefit of Allulose is that you’re not going to be seeing nearly as many calories – specifically from carbohydrates. This means a lower calorie intake, better overall dietary balance, with only 5-10% of the calories of sugar for an equivalent sweetness.
This also means a much better insulin response to Allulose than sugar – and even better than many other sweetener alternatives. Studies show that Allulose doesn’t just have a low glycemic index by itself, but it actually slows down the digestion of other high-GI carbohydrates. This is great for those looking to combat blood sugar spikes and diabetes risk.
Aside from insulin benefits, Allulose also compares well to common sweeteners in other areas. For example, in rodent studies it was shown that Allulose would produce far smaller gains in visceral fat than other sweeteners (erythritol and sucrose), making it even more beneficial for a diet aimed at reducing weight and body fat.
The prevention of fat build-up also extends to organ-based visceral fat, and specifically the development of a fatty liver. Allulose has been shown to combat the development of liver fat when it is used to replace sugar, a key health benefit you might not have expected from a sweetener.
Finally, one of the most important benefits to Allulose is the fact that it does not provide the same risks of digestive discomfort that we’ve seen with sugar alcohols. In fact, the intake of Allulose is so well-balanced because over 80% of it is either absorbed (but not used) or simply non-fermenting in the digestive system.
This means that, unlike some other sweeteners that can lead to feelings of trapped wind or bloating, Allulose is relatively side-effect free. Obviously, you still need to moderate your intake because any compound should be balanced in your diet, but you’re less likely to deal with any discomfort.
Cons of Allulose
We’ve already talked about the nature of digestive problems associated with artificial sweeteners above. Allulose has a much-reduced risk profile compared to sugar alcohols or classical sweeteners like aspartame, but of course, there are levels at which you may experience side effects.
These are limited to significantly over-dosed amounts but are possible. The rodent studies suggest that you would need to consume around 1g/kg (1g/2.2lbs) of body weight to start seeing any negative effects – an enormous amount of Allulose.
The overall toxicity risk for Allulose is like anything else, however, and residual build-up can be a concern. If you’re going to be consuming large quantities of sweeteners, be sure to hydrate properly and avoid consuming them by themselves, or on an empty stomach, to minimize any risks.
The greatest problem with Allulose right now is simply how new it is and the slow response of the science surrounding it. While there are many studies that discuss the benefits of Allulose – specifically those mentioned above – it is far beyond being totally understood.
The benefits of Allulose are hinted at by the studies that do exist – the ones we’ve linked into this article – but there is definitely space for us to get a better understanding. Sadly, this process does take a little while and we’ll only know the full scope of the benefits and mechanisms behind Allulose as it gains more attention and the science catches up to the positive results we’ve already seen.
This is obvious from the fact that the FDA’s existing stance on Allulose is effectively “uncertain”. The product is “Generally Recognized as Safe” and is being evaluated as a superior choice to aspartame and other early, heavily-processed sweeteners.
Why Allulose is Better
One of the most important benefits of any sweetener or sugar alternative is going to come with the simple benefit of not being sugar.
While sweeteners come with their own concerns when mega-dosing (something you should avoid anyway), it's important to remember that this is against the background of a national diet that has led to diabetes and cardiovascular disease killing 100,000s every year.
The skepticism around sugar alternatives was driven by now-obsolete sweeteners such as aspartame, while Allulose and other modern sweeteners are both naturally-occurring and even pro-actively healthy. The concerns are mostly defunct and come from a standpoint of “its too good to be true” mindset.
Allulose has clearly shown itself to weight towards many pros and very few cons. The science on this revolutionary sweetener is still building steam, but everything we’ve seen and discussed points to it being a great alternative to sugar, old-style sweeteners or any of the digestible carbohydrates on the market.
We’ve covered Allulose in depth before – especially regarding how it plays into an effective ketogenic diet – and you should check that out.
Otherwise, we’ll leave you with this: when somebody provides critical feedback on sweeteners, just remember that our inability to manage sugar – the alternative – is tied into the deaths of millions of people every 2 years. Sweeteners aren’t always perfect, but they provide a way of dealing with a huge public health crisis that has been getting worse for the past 50 years!