Is maltitol syrup keto friendly?

Quick Answer

Maltitol syrup can be keto friendly in small amounts but it’s best avoided on keto. Maltitol syrup has a high glycemic index of 52 and can spike blood sugar and insulin levels which takes you out of ketosis. There are better sugar alcohol sweetener options like erythritol or allulose that don’t impact ketosis.

What is Maltitol Syrup?

Maltitol syrup is a sugar alcohol sweetener that is used as a sugar substitute in many low carb and sugar free foods. It is made from maltose, which comes from starch. The maltose is hydrogenated to convert it into maltitol.

Maltitol syrup looks and tastes similar to corn syrup or glucose syrup. It’s about 90% as sweet as sugar but with fewer calories.

Food manufacturers like using maltitol syrup because it helps maintain moisture and texture in baked goods and other products that need a syrupy texture. You’ll often find it in sugar free candy, chocolate, ice cream, baked goods, and more.

Maltitol Syrup Glycemic Index and Carbs

Maltitol syrup has a glycemic index of 52, which is considered a medium level. For comparison, table sugar has a GI of 65 and pure glucose has a GI of 100.

This means that maltitol syrup can raise blood sugar and insulin levels, although not as dramatically as regular sugar.

Maltitol syrup is 90% maltitol, along with sorbitol and other sugar alcohols. The carbs in maltitol syrup mainly come from the maltitol component.

Maltitol has 2.1 calories per gram and a glycemic index of 35. It’s not completely absorbed by the body so the net carbs are lower than the total carbs.

To calculate net carbs in maltitol, you subtract half the grams of maltitol from the total carbs. So if a serving has 15g total carbs and 10g of those are maltitol, the net carbs would be 10g.

Why Maltitol Syrup May Not Be Keto Friendly

Here are a few reasons why maltitol syrup is questionable for a ketogenic diet:

Spikes Blood Sugar and Insulin

The glycemic index of maltitol is 52, which is moderate but still high enough to impact blood sugar and insulin levels. This can quickly take you out of ketosis.

On a keto diet, you want to choose sweeteners that have little to no effect on blood sugar. This allows your body to maintain ketosis and burn fat for fuel.

Digestive Issues

Maltitol and other sugar alcohols are notorious for causing digestive upset and other issues like gas, bloating, and diarrhea when consumed in large amounts.

This is because maltitol isn’t fully digested or absorbed. The undigested portion gets fermented by gut bacteria, producing gas.

Some people have more sensitivity than others. But it’s best to limit maltitol either way when following keto.

Easy to Over-Consume

Maltitol syrup tastes very sweet and similar to sugar and high fructose corn syrup. This makes it easy to over-consume without realizing it.

Just a couple tablespoons of maltitol syrup could already take you close to the daily net carb limit of 20-50 grams per day. So portions need to be measured carefully.

Masks Sugar Cravings

The sweet taste of maltitol syrup may continue to trigger sugar cravings and appetite in some people.

This works against one of the big benefits of keto – reducing cravings by stabilizing blood sugar levels and hunger hormones.

It’s better to use keto-friendly sweeteners that don’t make you crave more sweets.

Maltitol Syrup Conversion in Recipes

If you do want to use maltitol syrup in a keto recipe, here is a simple conversion:

– 1 cup sugar = 3/4 cup maltitol syrup

Reduce dried ingredients slightly to adjust for the moisture in the syrup. You may also need to reduce liquids slightly.

Be sure to count maltitol syrup toward total carbs and use it sparingly. 1 tablespoon of maltitol syrup has about 9g net carbs.

How Much Maltitol Syrup Can You Have Per Day on Keto?

Opinions vary on how much maltitol and other sugar alcohols are acceptable per day on a keto diet.

Some experts recommend keeping it under 10 grams net carbs while others say up to 20-30 grams is OK if it fits within your total daily carb limit.

The key is not going over your personal carb tolerance level. Track your results and see how different amounts impact your ketone levels and weight loss.

It also depends on the specific food. For example, half a cup of halo top ice cream with 24g maltitol may be fine, while a whole cup with 48g starts to become an issue.

Start low with maltitol syrup and other sweeteners and increase slowly as you assess their effects. Everyone has a different carb threshold for staying in ketosis.

Best and Worst Keto Sweeteners

If you’re following a keto diet, here is a quick comparison of the best and worst sweeteners:

Best Keto Sweeteners:

– Erythritol – 0 net carbs, GI of 0, no insulin response
– Monk fruit – 0 net carbs, GI of 0
– Stevia – 0 net carbs, GI of 0
– Allulose – 0.2 net carbs, GI of 0
– Inulin fiber – 1.5-2.5 net carbs, prebiotic fiber

Questionable Keto Sweeteners:

– Maltitol syrup – GI of 52, laxative in large amounts
– Xylitol – GI of 13 but some possible insulin response
– Aspartame – GI of 0 but can trigger cravings in some

Worst Keto Sweeteners:

– Sugars like sucrose, fructose, honey – GI of 60+
– Brown rice syrup – GI of 98
– Agave nectar – GI of 30, high in fructose

Healthier Alternatives to Maltitol Syrup

Here are some healthier keto-friendly alternatives you can substitute for maltitol syrup:

Allulose Syrup

Allulose is an almost zero calorie sweetener that tastes identically to sugar. You can make an allulose simple syrup to use instead of maltitol syrup.

It has a smooth, glossy texture and helps keeps moisture in baked goods. Allulose caramelizes too!

Erythritol Syrup

Erythritol syrup is easy to make at home by mixing erythritol powder with water until a syrupy consistency is formed.

It provides sweetness without any effect on blood sugar or insulin.

Inulin Fiber Syrup

Inulin fiber syrup offers a mild sweetness along with the prebiotic fiber benefits of inulin.

With only 2 grams net carbs per tablespoon, it won’t knock you out of ketosis.

Unsweetened Nut Milk

For a nutrient boost, you can use unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk or cashew milk in place of syrup in some recipes.

Fruit Purees

Pureed fruit like unsweetened applesauce, pumpkin, or banana can provide moisture and bind ingredients together instead of using maltitol syrup in some baked goods.

Flavor Extracts

Boost flavor without sugar by adding extracts like vanilla, almond, orange, maple, and lemon rather than using maltitol syrup.

Maltitol Syrup and Gut Health

Maltitol is known to cause digestive issues in sensitive people when consumed in large amounts. Side effects can include:

– Gas
– Bloating
– Cramping
– Diarrhea

This is due to the fact that maltitol isn’t fully broken down and absorbed by the body.

The undigested portion reaches the large intestine where gut bacteria ferment it, releasing gases like methane and carbon dioxide.

Some studies have found that 25-40% of consumed maltitol ends up in the colon. This amount is enough to cause issues in some people.

The laxative effect tends to be stronger with maltitol compared to other sugar alcohols like xylitol or erythritol.

Everyone has a different tolerance level for sugar alcohols. Some do fine with up to 50 grams per day while others get symptoms with as little as 10 grams.

Start with a small amount and monitor your response. Limit maltitol foods if you experience digestive discomfort.

Is Maltitol Keto-Friendly for Weight Loss?

For successful weight loss on a keto diet, the goal is to keep insulin levels low so your body can burn stored fat for energy and easily get into ketosis.

This makes low glycemic sweeteners like erythritol a better choice than maltitol syrup if weight loss is your objective.

While maltitol syrup has less impact on blood sugar than sugar, it can still cause a moderate spike in insulin. This takes you out of ketosis and switches your body from fat-burning to glucose-burning mode.

Even though maltitol is lower in calories than sugar, it may stall weight loss by disrupting ketosis.

That being said, you may be able to fit small amounts of maltitol syrup into your diet without an issue if it fits your macros. But erythritol, monk fruit, stevia, and allulose are better options.

Risk of Overeating Maltitol Products

One problem with maltitol syrup and maltitol-sweetened products is they can be easy to over-consume if you’re not paying close attention.

This is because foods sweetened with maltitol taste very similar to regular sugar. You may eat more than intended since it seems like you’re not consuming that many carbs or calories.

Yet maltitol syrup still has over 2 calories per gram, along with a moderate impact on blood sugar. Eating large amounts can quickly sabotage your keto diet and weight loss efforts.

To avoid overdoing it, carefully check labels and measure proper serving sizes of maltitol foods. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can eat unlimited quantities just because it’s sugar-free.

Portion control is key, as with any food that contains calories and carbs.

Maltitol and Diabetes

Is maltitol a good sugar substitute for people with diabetes?

While maltitol affects blood sugar less than regular sugar, it can still cause a rise in blood glucose and insulin response. For this reason, maltitol may not be the best choice for diabetes management.

However, research on maltitol and diabetes has shown mixed results:

– One 2008 study in diabetic rats found that maltitol did not raise blood glucose or insulin levels compared to sucrose. (1)

– A 1990 study in 12 people with type 2 diabetes found a significant increase in blood glucose and insulin after ingesting 50 grams of maltitol. (2)

– Another small 1990 study showed maltitol syrup produced a lower glucose response than sucrose in both healthy adults and those with diabetes. However, the glycemic response varied greatly between individuals. (3)

Overall, the research is inconclusive but there does appear to be potential for maltitol to impact blood sugar in some people with diabetes.

For this reason, many health providers consider maltitol and other sugar alcohols to be “free foods” meaning they can be eaten in moderation but still require carb counting. (4)

Those with diabetes are better off choosing sweeteners with a lower glycemic impact like monk fruit or stevia. But maltitol may be fine in small servings if it fits within your carbohydrate goals.

Maltitol Allergy

It’s possible but rare to have an allergy or intolerance to maltitol syrup and other sugar alcohol sweeteners.

Reported allergic reactions have included:

– Hives, rashes, and itching
– Swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat
– Wheezing or difficulty breathing

People who have a known allergy to yeast or fungi may be more likely to react to maltitol since it’s derived from starch via yeast fermentation. Maltitol is also chemically similar to sorbitol, so cross-reactivity can occur.

If you experience allergy symptoms after consuming a product with maltitol, discontinue use and check with your doctor.

To identify maltitol on food labels, look for these names:

– Maltitol syrup
– Hydrogenated glucose syrup
– Hydrogenated maltose
– Malbit


Maltitol syrup tastes similar to sugar and can be used sparingly in keto recipes. However, it does come with some drawbacks for a ketogenic diet.

The biggest issues are its high glycemic impact compared to other sugar alcohols and potential digestive side effects. Maltitol can also stall weight loss by disrupting ketosis if over-consumed.

Healthier alternatives like allulose, erythritol, stevia, and monk fruit are less likely to impact blood sugar or kick you out of ketosis. They provide a better sweet taste without the downsides.

That being said, including maltitol syrup occasionally in very small amounts may be fine for some people following a keto diet. Just be mindful of portions and how it affects your body.

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