Will sugar-free chocolate pudding raise blood sugar?

Sugar-free chocolate pudding is a popular dessert choice for people with diabetes or others looking to limit their sugar intake. But does skipping the sugar mean it won’t affect your blood sugar levels? Here’s a closer look at how sugar-free chocolate pudding is made, what ingredients it contains, and how it impacts blood glucose.

How is sugar-free chocolate pudding made?

Traditional chocolate pudding contains sugar, milk or cream, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and flavorings. To make a sugar-free version, the sugar is typically replaced with an artificial sweetener like:

  • Aspartame
  • Sucralose
  • Stevia
  • Acesulfame potassium

The rest of the ingredients remain similar to regular chocolate pudding. Sugar-free puddings may also include extra thickeners like guar gum or xanthan gum to help mimic the texture provided by sugar.

What ingredients are in sugar-free chocolate pudding?

Ingredients can vary by brand, but sugar-free chocolate pudding typically contains:

  • Milk or milk alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk
  • Cocoa powder
  • Cornstarch or other thickeners
  • Artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, or stevia
  • Flavorings like vanilla extract
  • Emulsifiers and stabilizers like soy lecithin or guar gum

Some brands may also add chocolate or chocolate flavoring. Read nutrition labels carefully to know exactly what’s in a particular pudding. Pay attention to serving sizes as well.

Do artificial sweeteners impact blood sugar?

Artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, and stevia allow food manufacturers to sweeten products without adding sugar or calories. Originally, it was believed these non-nutritive sweeteners did not raise blood glucose because they are not carbohydrates.

However, recent research indicates artificial sweeteners may still have effects on insulin, glucagon, and blood sugar:

  • Artificial sweeteners can stimulate insulin secretion. Insulin lowers blood glucose by helping cells absorb and use glucose.
  • They may also inhibit glucagon secretion. Glucagon raises blood sugar.
  • Through these hormonal changes, artificial sweeteners could potentially alter blood glucose levels.

More studies are still needed, but the glycemic impacts of non-nutritive sweeteners may not be zero as once assumed.

Do sugar alcohols impact blood sugar?

Some sugar-free puddings use sugar alcohols like erythritol, xylitol, or maltitol instead of artificial sweeteners. Sugar alcohols are derived from fruits and grains. They provide a sweet taste with fewer calories than sugar.

Sugar alcohols have a lower glycemic impact than regular sugar. But they can still modestly raise blood glucose, especially in large amounts. Their effect varies based on:

  • The type of sugar alcohol
  • How well it’s absorbed
  • Individual tolerance

For example, xylitol has a very low glycemic index of 7 while maltitol has a glycemic index of 52. For comparison, table sugar has a glycemic index of 65.

Do the other ingredients raise blood sugar?

Aside from added sweeteners, the carbohydrates in sugar-free chocolate pudding can also impact blood glucose levels.

  • Milk contains lactose, a carbohydrate that can raise blood sugar. Using nondairy milk alternatives eliminates this effect.
  • Starches like cornstarch have a high glycemic index and can increase blood glucose levels.
  • Cocoa powder contains minimal carbohydrates and does not significantly impact blood sugar.

The blood sugar effects of these ingredients also depend on the serving size and your own tolerances. Some people experience higher blood glucose from lactose while others do not.

Studies on sugar-free chocolate pudding and blood sugar

Only a few studies have looked specifically at sugar-free chocolate pudding and glycemic response. But they provide some insight:

  • A small 2006 study in diabetes patients found blood glucose was 29% lower after eating sugar-free chocolate pudding compared to regular chocolate pudding. However, blood glucose still increased by 29 mg/dL, indicating an effect.
  • Another 2006 study had participants with controlled type 2 diabetes eat either sugar-free chocolate pudding or sugar-free strawberry yogurt. The yogurt led to a higher blood glucose peak while pudding had a gentler, prolonged effect.
  • Researchers suggested this glycemic difference may be because yogurt contains more carbohydrates from lactose than pudding. The glucose response varies based on ingredients.

Overall these studies conclude sugar-free chocolate pudding has a more gradual, lower glycemic effect than regular pudding with sugar. But it can still result in elevated blood glucose, especially in diabetics.

Tips for limiting the blood sugar impact

Here are some ways to minimize the potential blood sugar effects of sugar-free chocolate pudding:

  • Stick to a small serving size as recommended on the nutrition label
  • Consume it as part of a balanced meal with protein and fiber
  • Opt for a version made with nondairy milk if you are lactose intolerant
  • Look for a brand that uses a sugar alcohol like erythritol instead of aspartame or sucralose if you are sensitive to their effects
  • Test your blood sugar before and after eating it to see how it impacts you

Moderation is key, even with sugar-free pudding. Pay attention to portions and how it affects your body.

Does sugar-free chocolate pudding affect ketosis?

A ketogenic or very low-carb diet relies on restricting carbohydrates to reach ketosis. This is when the body burns fats instead of glucose for fuel. Consuming carbohydrates can prevent or disrupt ketosis.

So will sugar-free chocolate pudding knock you out of ketosis? It depends. Some factors include:

  • Ingredients: Milk and starch contain carbs that could potentially affect ketosis, especially in large amounts. Using nondairy milk and limiting portions minimizes carb intake.
  • Sweeteners: Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners may still cause an insulin response which could briefly pause ketosis. But they have less impact than actual sugar.
  • Individual variation: Each person has a different carb tolerance for staying in ketosis. The amount of pudding that affects you may be different than someone else.

Occasional small servings of sugar-free pudding are unlikely to kick most people out of ketosis. But it’s a good idea to test ketone levels after eating it to see how your body responds. Consider limiting intake if it disrupts your goals.


Sugar-free chocolate pudding is a tasty lower-carb dessert option. But it may still result in increased blood sugar, especially in those with diabetes. The specific ingredients, serving sizes, and individual carb tolerances can impact the glycemic effect. Moderating portions and choosing lower carb recipes can help mitigate blood sugar spikes. Testing your response by monitoring glucose levels provides useful insight. Overall, sugar-free chocolate pudding affects individuals differently – the key is finding what works best for your dietary needs.

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