When switching from a typical Western-style diet, those who replace two of their meals daily with Isagenix IsaLean® Shakes or Bars, on average, cut their total carbohydrate intake by more than half and cut their total sugar intake by nearly 12 teaspoons.
This reduction of calories from sugars and carbohydrates helps clarify in part why subjects were able to see sustained weight loss results in a recent study performed by researchers at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.
From the study, the researchers also found that the study participants showed improvements in blood sugar control along with other measures of insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular health.
Yet the Isagenix products themselves are not lacking natural sweetness nor are they devoid of carbohydrates or sugars. So how was it that study participants succeeded in drastically dropping their intake of sugars, carbohydrates, and calories?
Much is explained by the careful formulation of IsaLean Shakes and Bars to maintain a low-glycemic profile through natural flavors and natural sweeteners. Here’s a look at how natural sweeteners are used to create great-tasting, nutritionally balanced products without resorting to artificial ingredients.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that is produced from the leaves of the stevia plant, Stevia rebaudiana. It is one of the most popular and widely used zero-calorie sweeteners. Stevia is a crop that is native to South America and has been grown for centuries for its naturally sweet taste.
Gram for gram stevia is 200 to 350 times sweeter than table sugar, which means a small amount can provide plenty of sweetness (1). When used alone, stevia extract has a mild, licorice-like flavor. This is why stevia tastes best when used in combination with other natural sweeteners.
Sugar alcohols provide another low-calorie alternative to sugar. These compounds are naturally present in many different fruits and vegetables and provide about half as many calories per gram as table sugar.
As the name suggests, sugar alcohols are substances that have a similar structure to sugar. This similarity accounts for their sweet taste because their shape allows them to activate the same taste buds as sugar. Even though sugar alcohols have the word “alcohol” in the name, they do not contain any ethanol, which is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.
A variety of different sugar alcohols can be found in nature, and each has unique properties.
- Xylitol is the most widely researched and commonly used sugar alcohol. It has a naturally minty flavor and has been shown to support oral health (2). This natural flavor is why you so commonly see it in sugar-free chewing gums, mints, and toothpaste. It has a very similar sweetness to sugar, yet it only provides about 40 percent of the calories.
- Erythritol is naturally found in many fruits and fermented foods. It is known to be almost as sweet as sugar, yet it contributes almost no calories. Like xylitol, erythritol has been shown to support oral health and has no effect on blood sugar (3, 4).
- Sorbitol can be found in pears, apples, peaches, and prunes. It is a slower-digesting sugar alcohol that provides about half the calories as sugar as well as half the sweetness.
- Maltitol comes from the simple sugar maltose, which is found in whole grains and sweet potatoes. Because it is so close in structure to maltose, it is known to taste the most similarly to sugar and is just as sweet while contributing only half of the calories.
When consumed in excess, sugar alcohols can lead to digestive upset for some people. Dried fruits, which are naturally high in sugar alcohols, can create a similar effect when consumed in excess. However, there shouldn’t be a concern when sugar alcohols are consumed in moderate amounts comparable to the amount found in Isagenix products.
“Fruit sugar,” or fructose, is naturally found in fruits and vegetables. Unlike other sources of simple sugar, fructose is low-glycemic because it has only a modest effect on blood sugar. Fructose is nearly twice as sweet as sugar, which allows for less sugar and fewer calories overall, and delivers the same sweet taste.
Collectively, these different natural sweeteners help Isagenix keep the amount of carbohydrates in its products to a level that is nutritionally beneficial while still maintaining the same great taste consumers have come to expect.
- Goyal SK, Samasher, Goyal RK. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) a bio-sweetener: a review. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 01 Feb 2010, 61(1):1-10. DOI: 10.3109/09637480903193049
- Mäkinen KK. Xylitol and Oral Health. Advances in Food Research. Volume 25, 1979, Pages 137-157. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2628(08)60236-0
- Noda K, Nakayama K, Oku T. Serum glucose and insulin levels and erythritol balance after oral administration of erythritol in healthy subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 01 Apr 1994, 48(4):286-292. PMID:8039489
- Honkala S, Runnel R, Saag M, Olak J, Nõmmela R, Russak S, Mäkinen PPL, Vahlberg T, Falony G, Mäkinen K, Honkala E. Effect of Erythritol and Xylitol on Dental Caries Prevention in Children. Caries Res 2014;48:482-490 https://doi.org/10.1159/000358399