How long does it take for sugar free gummy bears to kick in?

Sugar free gummy bears typically start to have an effect within 30-90 minutes after eating them. The key ingredient in most sugar free gummies is maltitol, a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener. Maltitol is known to have a laxative effect when consumed in large amounts, which is why sugar free gummies can cause digestive upset.

What Makes Sugar Free Gummies Cause Digestive Issues?

There are a few reasons why sugar free gummies like Haribo and Albanese can cause digestive problems:

  • Maltitol – This is the main sweetener used in most sugar free gummies. It does not get fully absorbed in the small intestine so it pulls water into the large intestine causing diarrhea.
  • Dosage – Eating a lot of sugar free gummies at once floods the digestive system with maltitol. Consuming more than 50g of maltitol may have a laxative effect.
  • Sorbitol – Some gummies also contain sorbitol, another sugar alcohol that can contribute to diarrhea.
  • Fructose – Many sugar free gummies contain fructose as well. Too much fructose draws water into the GI tract via osmosis which causes loose stools.

So in essence, the one-two punch of maltitol and fructose in sugar free gummies is why they can wreak havoc on your digestive system if you eat too many!

What Are Typical Timelines for Symptoms?

Here’s a general timeline of when symptoms can start after eating a lot of sugar free gummy bears or other gummies:

  • 30 minutes to 1 hour – earliest onset of cramping or urgency
  • 2-3 hours – diarrhea, gas, bloating tends to set in
  • 5-8 hours – symptoms peak in terms of frequency of bowel movements
  • 8-12 hours – some continuing effects possible but most symptoms fading
  • 12+ hours – most people are back to normal digestion-wise

Of course, the larger the dosage of maltitol/fructose consumed, the faster and more severe the symptoms may be. With a massive overdose of sugar free gummies, symptoms could start in as little as 15-30 minutes!

How Long Do the Effects Last?

For most people, the digestive effects of sugar free gummies will subside within 12-24 hours. However, some people may have continuing effects up to 48 hours, especially if a very large amount of gummies was eaten.

Some factors that influence how long the diarrhea and cramping lasts include:

  • Amount of sugar alcohols like maltitol consumed – more equals longer lasting effects
  • Sensitivity of the individual – some people are more sensitive to sugar alcohols than others
  • Hydration level – being well hydrated can help flush out the digestive system faster
  • Diet – eating a bland, low-fiber diet after consumption can help calm symptoms
  • Use of anti-diarrheal medication – can slow bowel movements

Drinking plenty of water and clear fluids can help reduce the duration of symptoms. In severe cases, the use of anti-diarrheal medication may be warranted to control very frequent bowel movements.

What Dosage Causes Problems?

There doesn’t appear to be any absolute “safe” threshold for maltitol consumption. However, here are some general guidelines:

  • Under 20-25g maltitol – minimal effects in most people
  • 25-50g – potential for looser stools and some gas/bloating
  • Over 50g – high likelihood of diarrhea, cramping, and other issues

To put this in perspective, a typical 1.8oz box of Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears contains ~35g maltitol. So for many people, eating 1-2 boxes may cause some digestive discomfort.

Consuming 3+ boxes of sugar free gummies likely means going over 50g maltitol, which is when more severe diarrhea is very likely.

Can You Build Up Tolerance?

It is possible to build up some tolerance to maltitol/sorbitol over time if they are consumed daily in small to moderate amounts. This may involve several weeks of slowly acclimating the digestive system.

However, tolerance appears to be limited. Large or excessive dosages can still override any adaptation and cause diarrhea in most individuals.

Some key points about developing tolerance:

  • Go slowly – start with 10-15g maltitol per day and increase weekly
  • Watch doses – aim to stay under ~30-40g maltitol even after adaptation
  • Use sparingly – rotate maltitol-containing products and don’t overdo it
  • Watch combining – be cautious about combining maltitol with other sugar alcohols like sorbitol

It’s unlikely that most people can develop enough tolerance to safely consume multiple boxes of sugar free gummies in one sitting. The wiser approach is to enjoy sugar free candies in moderation, even after adaptation.

Tips to Prevent and Treat Symptoms

Here are some tips if you’ve overdone it on the Haribo sugar free bears or other gummies and want to prevent or recover from digestive symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of water – stay hydrated to help flush out sugar alcohols
  • Avoid other sources of maltitol/sorbitol for 1-2 days
  • Choose bland, low-fiber foods for a day – give the GI tract a rest
  • Take an anti-diarrheal if needed – loperamide can help control bowel urgency
  • Try probiotics – can help restore good gut bacteria after diarrhea
  • Avoid overexertion – take it easy until symptoms resolve

Symptoms from over-consumption of sugar-free gummies should resolve on their own within a day or two. Seek medical attention if you have severe dehydration, unrelenting vomiting, high fever, or blood in stool.

The Infamous Amazon Reviews

Infamously, sugar free gummy bears have thousands of scathing reviews on Amazon from customers who had bad digestive reactions. Brands like Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears and Albanese Sugar Free bears are full of stories of explosive diarrhea, painful gas, uncontrollable bowel movements, and many ruined underwear.

Some of the more vivid reviews include:

  • “It was as if I had poured liquid colon blow into my mouth!”
  • “I woke up in the middle of the night and had to evacuate my bowels…it was like the flood gates of hell opened up.”
  • “You will definitely need a bucket beside your toilet after eating these.”
  • “Think of a regular gummy bear, now imagine it’s evil twin sent from the bowels of hell to wreak havoc on your insides.”
  • “Satan’s Diarrhea Hate Bears were BOGO that day.”

While humorous, these reviews illustrate how seriously sugar free gummies can impact digestion when consumed excessively. Respect the gummy bear!

The Great Sugar Free Gummy Bear Challenge

Eating an entire 5 pound bag of sugar free gummy bears has become an internet challenge of sorts. This equates to over 300g maltitol, almost guaranteeing an epic digestive experience.

Notable sugar free gummy bear challenge attempts include:

  • YouTuber SteakandCheese ate 5 pounds and had explosive results after 2 hours. Over 7 million views.
  • The infamous Amazon reviewer “H.J.” ate 5 pounds and documented the horrifying results. 1,700+ comments.
  • Competitive eater Erik “The Red” Denmark ate 10 pounds in one sitting, setting a world record. Impressively only experienced moderate issues.

For most people, attempting the sugar free gummy bear challenge would be an uncomfortable and potentially risky idea. While some elite eaters can survive this feat, proceed with caution!

Alternative Low-Calorie Sweeteners

If you want to avoid sugar but also the gastric distress of maltitol, there are other sweetener options. Popular alternatives in low-sugar or sugar free candies and gummies include:

  • Erythritol – Natural sugar alcohol derived from corn, well tolerated by most people.
  • Stevia – Plant-based sweetener, does not usually cause digestion issues.
  • Monk fruit – Fruit extract used as zero calorie sweetener, with minimal side effects.
  • Allulose – Low-calorie sugar with a glycemic index of zero and no impact on blood sugar.

Not all alternative sweeteners are created equal. But the above options tend to be better tolerated than maltitol and sorbitol, so may be a preferable choice in sugar free gummies and treats.

The Takeaway on Sugar Free Gummy Bears

Here are the key takeaways on how long sugar free gummy bears take to wreak digestive havoc and what you can do to avoid problems:

  • Effects kick in within 30-90 minutes usually. Diarrhea typically starts after 1-3 hours.
  • Symptoms last around 12-24 hours but up to 48 hours possible for some.
  • Dosages over 50g maltitol (1.8-2 boxes) likely to cause issues.
  • Try to stay under 25-30g maltitol even after adaptation.
  • Drink fluids, take anti-diarrheals, eat bland diet to cope with symptoms.
  • Consider gummies with erythritol, stevia, or monk fruit instead.
  • Enjoy sugar free gummies, but practice moderation!

1 thought on “How long does it take for sugar free gummy bears to kick in?”

  1. Sugar-free gummies are the gummy bears, especially children will love to eat. But it will take a lot of time for me to prepare. How long does it take for sugar-free gummy bears to kick in helps me in this preparation well, it reduces my preparation time for gummy bears.


Leave a Comment