Home > Focus Areas, Nutrition, South Beach, Weight Loss > Curse you, Jillian Michaels!

Curse you, Jillian Michaels!

I say that tongue-in-cheek, of course.  Why?  Because she taught me something about nutrition that I wish I could unlearn.  Okay, maybe I don’t – but it would have been nice to remain blissfully unaware about this issue.

The issue at hand?  Sugar alcohols and their impact on blood sugar.

Several weeks ago, when I placed an order for our usual vitamins/supplements, I noticed that our online store also sold Atkins bars at a decent price.  Since I was getting free shipping, I decided to add a few boxes of various flavors.  One was the Chocolate Hazelnut Bar, which I had never even seen in stores before.  Holy crap, it was soooooo yummy!  There was so much nutty goodness, it didn’t really even strike me that I was eating fake chocolate.  In my mind, I had found the perfect snack – the box showed only 3 net grams of carbs.  Looking at the label confirmed this – 18 total carbs minus the 7g fiber and 8g sugar alcohol = 3 net carbs.  Hooray!

But then, Jillian Michaels had to come along and burst my bubble.

In her book Winning by Losing (not “Lose to Win”, as I mistakenly called it in a recent post), she dropped the bomb that you shouldn’t actually just subtract sugar alcohols from the overall carbs because they actually do impact your blood sugar – and have a relatively high Glycemic Index value.  Are you shitting me?  I could swear that I read in one of the South Beach Diet books that you *could* subtract sugar alcohols.  I’m going to have to give that one another read and see if I just made that up…but I know I had read it somewhere.  Well, Dr. Atkins at least probably believes this since his products tout a net carb amount that excludes sugar alcohols.


I decided to do a little more reading on the subject and found a good article on About.com.  So apparently there are different kinds of sugar alcohols and they all have a different GI value.  Malitol syrup is the highest listed, coming in at a 52 whereas good old sugar has a value of 60.  Not much difference, eh?  Of course there are others with a lower GI value (like 9 or 13) and even a couple with 0.

So, as long as my new favorite friends are made with Mannitol or Erythriol, I’m all good.  I certainly hope that Malitol isn’t on the list of ingredients…

You guessed it – both malitol and malitol syrup appear in the list of ingredients.

Talk about screwed.

So here I was, feeling guilty about having an apple because even a small one has 21 grams of carbs.  I looked to these Atkins bars as my salvation – my guilt-free treat option.  And now I’m highly upset.  Crushed.  Disillusioned.  Okay, well maybe more confused than anything.  At least this other article suggested how you could subtract part of the sugar alcohols from the total carb count…

Where do I go from here?  I suppose that those Atkins bars are still a better snacking option than say a Snickers bar, but what about an apple?  An apple comes from nature and I would think would be a better option.  But it still has more carbs than the Atkins bar, regardless of whether you subtract sugar alcohols or not.  Maybe I’m being a little too literal and should just go with the flow – as long as I’m not eating 4 apples or 4 Atkins bars per day, does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?  Maybe there’s something to be said for not paying attention to all this carb nuttiness and just trying to make healthy, common-sense choices?

Talk about rocking my world.  Is there anything you’ve learned about fitness or nutrition that has rocked yours?

  1. January 5, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    I was excited to learn that – if you have lemon juice or vinegar with Carbs it lowers the GI of whatever you are eating (I thought by 30%). Not sure where I heard it, but hope it’s right!


    • January 5, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      I just did some quick searches and found that as well – who knew! Something I just read said that also eating fresh fruits and veggies helps to lower the GI value of a meal. Hmmm, something to look into further…

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