Both sugar free and regular Metamucil can be effective options for relieving constipation. The main difference is that the sugar free version contains artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. This makes it a better choice for people limiting sugar intake, like those with diabetes. The fiber content is the same between the two versions. Most people can take either version, but individuals should consult their doctor if they have concerns.
What is Metamucil?
Metamucil is a fiber supplement made by Procter & Gamble. It contains psyllium husk, which comes from the Plantago ovata plant. Psyllium is a soluble fiber that absorbs water and becomes gel-like in the digestive tract. This helps promote regularity and relieve constipation by softening and adding bulk to stools. Metamucil comes in several forms, including powder, capsules, wafers, and bars. The powder can be mixed with water or other liquids and drunk. Metamucil provides 2.4 grams of fiber per teaspoon of powder. It is available in regular, sugar-free, orange, and unflavored versions. The sugar-free kind uses aspartame as a sweetener instead of sugar.
Benefits of Metamucil
Here are some of the main benefits associated with taking Metamucil:
– Relieves constipation – The psyllium in Metamucil absorbs water, swells, and forms a gel-like bulk that helps soften and add volume to stools. This makes bowel movements easier to pass. Studies show psyllium is effective at treating chronic constipation.
– Promotes regularity – In addition to relieving constipation, daily use of Metamucil can help promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation from recurring. The fiber helps keep stools soft and bowel movements regular.
– May lower cholesterol – Some research indicates psyllium fiber can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract so that more gets excreted out rather than absorbed.
– Helps control blood sugar – The fiber may also slow digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. This makes it beneficial for people with diabetes.
– Promotes heart health – A diet high in fiber is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Metamucil may help by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
– Aids weight loss – Metamucil can promote feelings of fullness, which may help with weight management. The fiber also adds bulk without extra calories.
Difference Between Regular and Sugar Free Versions
The main difference between regular and sugar free Metamucil is their taste and calorie content.
Regular Metamucil contains sugar to sweeten the fiber powder. It has approximately 60 calories per serving.
The sugar free version uses artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose instead of sugar to provide a sweet taste without the calories. It has under 10 calories per serving.
Both varieties provide the same 2.4 grams of psyllium husk fiber per teaspoon. They come in an array of flavors, with orange being one of the most popular for both types.
The fiber content and laxative effect are essentially the same between the regular and sugar free versions. The main reason to choose sugar free is if you are monitoring sugar and calorie intake.
Sugar Free Metamucil
Here is a more in-depth look at sugar free Metamucil specifically:
– Sweetened with aspartame and/or sucralose rather than sugar
– Contains less than 10 calories per serving
– Comes in popular flavors like Orange, Pink Lemonade, Berry Burst, and Orange Smooth
– Dissolves completely in water without grittiness or clumping
– Has same 2.4 grams of psyllium husk fiber as regular Metamucil per teaspoon
– Available as powder, wafers, capsules, and bars
– Powder can be mixed into water, juice, smoothies, oatmeal
– Helps relieve constipation and promote regularity
– May help regulate blood sugar levels
– No sugar means better suited for diabetics and low carb diets
– Less risk of tooth decay compared to regular version
– Still provides same fiber benefits for digestion and cholesterol
– No sugar and very low calorie
– Helps limit sugar and carb intake
– Reduced risk of high blood sugar
– Better for diabetes management
– No gritty texture in liquid
– Prevents spike in blood glucose
– Helps meet fiber needs on low carb diet
– Same benefits for constipation relief
– Easy to incorporate into diet
– Contains artificial sweeteners
– Not suitable for people sensitive to aspartame
– Rare side effects like headache or nausea
– May still contain trace amounts of sugar
– Higher cost than regular version
– Limited selection of flavors
Here are details on regular Metamucil in comparison:
– Sweetened with sugar (sucrose)
– 60 calories per serving
– Added sugars account for most calories
– Popular flavors like Orange, Lemon-Lime, and Berry Burst
– Contains same 2.4 grams psyllium husk fiber per teaspoon
– Powder form mixes into water or other liquids
– Also available as wafers, capsules, bars
– Helps relieve and prevent constipation
– Draws water into stools to ease passage
– Promotes regularity with daily use
– May help lower LDL cholesterol
– Fiber moderates absorption of carbs
– Original formula with sugar
– No artificial sweeteners
– Familiar, traditional taste
– Highly affordable and accessible
– Powder dissolves well in liquid
– Wide range of flavors
– Same fiber content as sugar free
– High in sugar and calories
– Not suitable for diabetes or low carb
– Can spike blood glucose levels
– Promotes tooth decay
– Gritty texture in water
– Limited forms beyond powder
– Extra calories add up
– Not ideal for weight loss
Similarities Between the Two Versions
Though they differ in sweeteners and calories, regular and sugar free Metamucil share many similarities:
– Both contain 2.4 grams psyllium husk fiber per teaspoon
– Offer same benefits for constipation relief and regularity
– Available in popular orange flavor
– Come in powder, capsules, wafers, and bars
– Powder form mixes into water or other liquids
– Require drinking extra fluids with use
– Provide soluble fiber that forms gel in digestive tract
– Help soften and add bulk to stools
– Can be taken daily to maintain regularity
– Require gradual increase in dose to avoid side effects
– May cause mild abdominal bloating or gas
– Should not be used long-term without doctor supervision
– Both boost fiber intake to aid digestion
– Neither version provides protein or nutrients
– Have potential to help lower cholesterol
– Can promote feelings of fullness and aid weight control
– Offer comparable health benefits overall
Which is Better?
Whether regular or sugar free Metamucil is better depends on an individual’s needs:
For people with diabetes or prediabetes, sugar free is the better choice because it won’t spike blood sugar levels. The artificial sweeteners prevent rises in blood glucose. Sugar free may also be preferred for low carb diets for the same reason.
For those who want the traditional, classic taste and don’t need to restrict sugar, regular Metamucil is likely the better option. The sugar adds flavor and improves palatability.
People watching their calorie intake may find sugar free advantageous since it contains far fewer calories per serving. However, those sensitive to aspartame should avoid the sugar free type.
In general, sugar free Metamucil is considered safer for people concerned about their blood sugar or carb intake. But both versions can help with constipation relief and adding fiber to the diet. The fiber content is identical between the two forms.
Most healthy adults without issues like diabetes, prediabetes or IBS can take either version and get the same benefits. It comes down to personal preference for taste, calories, and ingredients like artificial sweeteners. Consulting a doctor is advisable for people with medical conditions or on medication.
How to Take Metamucil
Here are some tips for taking Metamucil:
– Start with a small dose like 1 teaspoon mixed in 8-12 oz of water once per day. Slowly increase to the recommended dosage on the package over several weeks.
– Drink each serving immediately after mixing to prevent clumping or thickening. Stir vigorously until the powder is fully dissolved.
– Take Metamucil on an empty stomach, at least 2 hours before or after medications or supplements.
– Drink an additional 8 oz of plain water after finishing the Metamucil drink. Stay well hydrated when using Metamucil.
– Gradually ramp up fiber intake over several weeks to minimize gas or bloating. Temporarily reduce dosage if adverse effects occur.
– Take Metamucil daily for best results in promoting regularity. Taking it 1-3 times per day is ideal for chronic constipation.
– Avoid taking Metamucil immediately before bed to prevent disruption of sleep from needing to use the bathroom.
– Metamucil powder has a gritty texture, so mix smoothly with water instead of milk or carbonated drinks. Flavored versions mix best.
– Stir sugar free Metamucil very thoroughly as it can clump at the bottom. Shake the container before scooping powder.
– Check with a doctor before long term daily use of Metamucil or using it to manage a medical condition.
Metamucil is typically well tolerated, but some possible side effects include:
– Bloating or gas – Fiber draws fluid into the colon and can cause a laxative effect. Drink plenty of non-carbonated fluids to help minimize gas or bloating. Effects should subside with continued use.
– Diarrhea – Too much fiber too quickly can lead to loose, watery stools. Lower the Metamucil dose and gradually increase over time.
– Abdominal cramps – Stomach cramping may occur if you don’t drink enough fluids with Metamucil or have an underlying gastrointestinal condition.
– Allergic reaction – Metamucil contains psyllium. Consult a doctor if you have a psyllium allergy or experience hives, swelling, or anaphylaxis.
– Nausea – Drink each serving slowly over 10-15 minutes and consume plenty of water to prevent an upset stomach.
– Headache – This is more common with sugar free Metamucil. Headache should resolve on its own but consult a doctor if it persists.
– Aspartame sensitivity – Sugar free Metamucil contains aspartame. Those with aspartame sensitivity can experience dizziness, headache, or other effects.
Tell your doctor about any concerning side effects. Discontinue use if you have severe side effects or a reaction. Seek emergency care for serious symptoms like trouble breathing.
Here are some precautions to keep in mind with Metamucil:
– Check with your doctor before use if you have a medical condition, take prescription medications, or are scheduled for surgery.
– Metamucil may alter absorption of certain medications. Separate doses by at least 2 hours.
– Don’t take Metamucil immediately before bedtime to avoid disruption of normal sleep from bathroom visits.
– Increase fluid intake to at least 8 glasses of water per day to prevent dehydration or electrolyte imbalance.
– Don’t exceed the recommended daily dosage without medical supervision.
– Check the ingredient label and avoid Metamucil if you have a psyllium or aspartame allergy.
– Seek medical advice before daily long-term use over months or years.
– Stop use if you experience severe side effects like chest pain, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing or breathing.
– Metamucil is not intended for weight loss on its own. Consult a doctor before using Metamucil for weight management.
– Don’t take Metamucil within 1 hour of other supplements or medications as the fiber can interfere with nutrient absorption.
When to See a Doctor
Consult your doctor in these situations:
– If you have persisting or severe side effects from Metamucil like severe abdominal pain, vomiting, chest tightness, hives, or trouble breathing
– If you need to use laxatives like Metamucil for longer than 1-2 weeks to have a bowel movement
– If you experience rectal bleeding or no improvement in constipation after several weeks of using Metamucil
– If you need increasing doses of Metamucil to have a bowel movement
– If you have chronic diarrhea lasting more than 2 weeks after starting Metamucil
– If you have been diagnosed with a gastrointestinal condition like IBS, IBD, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis
– If you have diabetes and want to use Metamucil to assist with blood sugar control
– If you take prescription medications, especially diabetes medications, blood thinners, heart medications, or antidepressants
– If you are planning to use Metamucil long-term (months or years)
– If you are considering using Metamucil for purposes other than relieving occasional constipation, like daily weight management
Both regular and sugar free Metamucil can provide effective relief from occasional constipation thanks to their fiber content. Sugar free Metamucil may be the better option for people with diabetes, prediabetes, or those following a low carb diet since it won’t spike blood sugar levels. Regular Metamucil has more calories from sugar and may be better for people who don’t require artificial sweeteners and want the classic taste.
For most otherwise healthy adults, both versions are safe and offer the same fiber benefits. The best type comes down to your specific nutritional needs and preferences. Be sure to start with a low dose, ramp up gradually, stay hydrated, and talk to your doctor if you have any medical conditions or experience concerning side effects. Taking Metamucil as directed can gently relieve constipation and get your bowel movements regular again.