Are sugar-free gummy bears still made?

Sugar-free gummy bears have become quite popular in recent years as more people look for lower calorie treats. While they may not taste exactly the same as regular gummy bears, many brands have improved their sugar-free recipes to be more palatable. So yes, sugar-free gummy bears are still widely available from major candy companies as well as smaller niche brands.

What are sugar-free gummy bears?

Sugar-free gummy bears are very similar to regular gummy bears, but are made without sugar. The sugar is typically replaced with sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, or maltitol. This gives the gummy bears a sweet taste without the added calories and carbohydrates of real sugar. Brands also often add more gelatin or thickeners to improve the chewy texture.

The most common sugar-free gummy bear brands are:

  • Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears
  • Trolli Sugar Free Gummy Bears
  • Brach’s Sugar Free Gummy Bears
  • Albanese Sugar Free Gummy Bears
  • SmartSweets Gummy Bears

These major brands use sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol instead of real sugar. There are also smaller niche brands that use alternative sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit extract.

Why were they controversial several years ago?

Sugar-free gummy bears went viral and became controversial around 2014 when tons of Amazon reviews warned about horrible gastrointestinal side effects. This was focused around a brand called Sugarless Gummy Bears, which used high amounts of lycasin (hydrogenated glucose syrup) as the sugar alcohol replacement.

Lycasin is known to commonly cause digestive issues like gas, bloating, and diarrhea when consumed in excess. The Sugarless Gummy Bears brand also contained much more lycasin per gummy bear than a typical serving size. This led to countless reviews warning about the horrible laxative effect and coining the term “gummy bear cleanse.”

The controversy sparked news stories and YouTube videos about this laxative effect. It also led many people to assume that all sugar-free gummy bears had this extreme laxative effect, damaging the reputation of the entire product category. In reality, lycasin is less commonly used today, and most major brands have reformulated to be more gentle on digestion.

Are the digestive issues still a problem?

For most major sugar-free gummy bear brands today, the horrible gastrointestinal side effects should not be an issue if enjoying gummy bears in moderation. However, there are a few considerations:

  • Sugar alcohols like xylitol, maltitol, and sorbitol can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea if consumed in excess. But major brands have lowered amounts to safe serving sizes.
  • Some people have sensitivities to specific sugar alcohols that may cause more noticeable effects. Start with a small serving to see how your body responds.
  • Make sure to drink plenty of water and not overindulge. Consuming a whole bag of sugar-free gummy bears at once increases risk of digestive upset.
  • Look at ingredients lists and avoid gummy bears with lycasin or excessive maltitol, which tend to cause more digestive issues.
  • Stevia-sweetened gummy bears may be gentler on digestion for those very sensitive to sugar alcohols.

If enjoying gummy bears in reasonable serving sizes from reputable brands, they should not cause extreme digestive distress like the old viral horror stories. But some gastrointestinal effects can still occur if over-consuming sugar alcohols so moderation is key.

What are the benefits of sugar-free gummy bears?

Here are some of the potential benefits of choosing sugar-free gummy bears in moderation:

  • Fewer calories – Sugar-free gummy bears have around 3 calories per gummy bear versus 8 calories in regular gummy bears.
  • Less sugar – Sugar-free gummies have 0g of sugar compared to around 8g per serving of regular gummy bears.
  • Don’t affect blood sugar – The sugar alcohols and alternative sweeteners used don’t spike blood sugar like regular sugar.
  • Help reduce sugar consumption – The sweet flavor helps satisfy a candy craving without excessive sugar intake.
  • May protect dental health – With no real sugar, sugar-free gummies may reduce risk of cavities.
  • Cost-effective – Sugar-free gummy bears are priced similarly to regular gummy bears.

For people looking to reduce sugar intake or restrict calories, sugar-free gummy bears can be a convenient candy substitution. They provide the familiar chewy texture and sweet flavor of regular gummy bears while eliminating grams of sugar and lowering calorie counts.

What are the downsides of sugar-free gummy bears?

Some drawbacks to consider when choosing sugar-free gummy bears include:

  • Digestive effects – As discussed above, sugar alcohols can cause gastrointestinal issues if consumed excessively.
  • Aftertaste – Some brands have an unpleasant chemical-like aftertaste.
  • Not child-friendly – The sugar alcohols may cause bathroom issues for kids.
  • Contains controversial sweeteners – Xylitol toxic for dogs. And some oppose artificial sweeteners used.
  • Higher carbs than some candies – Sugar-free gummies still have 3-4g net carbs per serving.
  • Not exactly like regular gummy bears – The taste and texture isn’t quite the same.

While sugar-free gummy bears solve the sugar issue, the trade-offs may not make them worthwhile for everyone. Taste preferences and digestive sensitivity can vary individually.

Nutrition Comparison of Regular vs. Sugar-Free Gummy Bears

Here is a nutrition comparison of regular gummy bears versus a popular brand of sugar-free gummy bears (Haribo):

Nutrition Facts Regular Gummy Bears (5 bears) Sugar-Free Gummy Bears (5 bears)
Calories 40 15
Total Carbs 9 g 5 g
Sugar 8 g 0 g
Sugar Alcohols 0 g 5 g

As you can see, the sugar-free version has significantly fewer calories and no sugar. But it provides sugar alcohols instead, which is where the laxative issues stem from if over-consumed.

Do sugar-free gummy bears taste the same?

One of the big downsides of sugar-free gummy bears is that most brands don’t quite replicate that perfect sweet gummy bear flavor. There is often an aftertaste from sugar alcohols that some describe as bitter or chemical-like.

However, taste is subjective and some feel sugar-free gummy bears taste very close to the real thing. Taste buds adjust and brands have improved flavors over time. Reading online reviews can help find better-tasting options if the flavor is a priority.

For some, the added dental and calorie benefits make the slight difference in taste worth it. But others may not find sugar-free gummy bears worth it if the taste misses the mark for them.

Are certain brands better for avoiding digestive issues?

These brands of sugar-free gummy bears tend to cause less gastrointestinal distress:

  • Haribo Sugar Free – Uses maltitol; well-tolerated in small servings
  • Trolli Sugar Free – Uses sorbitol; minor issues if over-consumed
  • SmartSweets – Uses stevia; no sugar alcohols
  • Albanese – Uses sorbitol; moderate amounts
  • Brach’s – Uses sorbitol; smaller serving sizes

Reading the ingredients list can give you an idea of potential digestive impacts. Look for reasonable serving sizes and sugar alcohols like sorbitol, maltitol, and xylitol rather than high amounts of lycasin.

What ingredients are used in sugar-free gummy bears?

Here are some of the most common ingredients used to make sugar-free gummy bear recipes:

  • Sugar alcohols – Xylitol, maltitol, sorbitol, erythritol, isomalt, lactitol
  • Sweeteners – Stevia, sucralose
  • Gelatin – Provides chewy gummy texture
  • Flavorings – Juice concentrates, fruit purees, malic acid
  • Colors – FD&C colors, fruit and vegetable juices
  • Acids – Citric acid, fumaric acid

The specific ingredients and amounts vary between brands. But most opt for a lineup of sugar alcohols, stevia, flavorings, gelatin, and acids to mimic regular gummy bears without the sugar.

Should you avoid sugar alcohols altogether?

Sugar alcohols get a bad reputation because of horror stories about sugar-free candy side effects. But sugar alcohols can be included in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet for most people. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Aim for no more than 30-50 grams of sugar alcohols per day to reduce GI issues.
  • Spread consumption throughout day rather than all at once.
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
  • Watch for individual intolerances and adjust intake accordingly.
  • Enjoy an overall balanced diet, don’t rely on them for all sweetness needs.

For people who are very sensitive, avoiding sugar alcohols altogether when possible is reasonable. But most healthy adults can incorporate moderate amounts without concern as long as they account for the increased calorie counts.


Yes, sugar-free gummy bears are still popular candy options today despite the infamous controversy years ago. Major brands have reformulated to be gentler on digestion. While sugar alcohols can still cause some GI effects if over-consumed, enjoying sugar-free gummies in moderation is unlikely to cause extreme problems.

Sugar-free gummy bears can help reduce calories, sugar intake, and dental health risks compared to regular gummy bears. But some may dislike the taste differences or prefer to avoid sugar alcohols entirely. Overall, sugar-free gummy bears are still widely available for a low-sugar candy option as long as consumers are informed of the potential pros and cons.

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