i have looked up and down for info on sugar alcohols, and have gotten nothing but where they come from, and nothing on their relevance to muscle gains. assuming they are neither sugar, nor alcohol, and that they are in lots of protein bars, i am inclined to think they are harmless, but i think its worth double checking...anyone have an opinion on them?
I love/hate them. Maltitol is the most common sugar alcohol in protein bars. It has approximately 2 calories per gram if I remember correctly. While it won't hugely affect your blood sugar levels, it should be counted in your total calorie intake. This is a good article about sugar alcohols:
Name Sweetness Caloric Content Sweetness per
(sucrose = 1.0) (kcal/g) Caloric Content
Arabitol 0.7 0.2 3.5
Erythritol 0.812 0.213 3.498
Glycerol 0.6 4.3 0.14
HSH 0.4–0.9 3.0 0.13–0.3
Isomalt 0.5 2.0 0.25
Lactitol 0.4 2.0 0.2
Maltitol 0.9 2.1 0.43
Mannitol 0.5 1.6 0.31
Sorbitol 0.6 2.6 0.23
Xylitol 1.0 2.4 0.42
Sucrose 1.0 4.0 0.25
they can be used to mask the unpleasant aftertastes of some high intensity sweeteners. Sugar alcohols are not metabolized by oral bacteria, and so they do not contribute to tooth decay. They do not brown or caramelize when heated.
In addition to their sweetness, some sugar alcohols can produce a noticeable cooling sensation in the mouth when highly concentrated, for instance in sugar-free hard candy or chewing gum. This happens, for example, with the crystalline phase of sorbitol, erythritol, xylitol, mannitol, lactitol and maltitol. The cooling sensation is due to the dissolving of the sugar alcohol being an endothermic (heat-absorbing) reaction, one with a strong heat of solution. 
Sugar alcohols are usually incompletely absorbed into the blood stream from the small intestines which generally results in a smaller change in blood glucose than "regular" sugar (sucrose). This property makes them popular sweeteners among diabetics and people on low-carbohydrate diets. However, as for many other incompletely digestible substances (such as dietary fiber), overconsumption of sugar alcohols can lead to bloating, diarrhea and flatulence because they are not absorbed in the small intestine. Some individuals experience such symptoms even in a single-serving quantity. With continued use, most people develop a degree of tolerance to sugar alcohols and no longer experience these symptoms. As an exception, erythritol is actually absorbed in the small intestine and excreted unchanged through urine, so it has no side effects at typical levels of consumption.
The table above presents the relative sweetness and measured caloric content of the most widely-used sugar alcohols. Despite the variance in caloric content of sugar alcohols, EU labeling requirements assign a blanket value of 2.4 kcal/g to all sugar alcohols.
People who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, specifically Roux-en-Y (RGB), should be careful not to eat too many sugar alcohols as doing so can lead to "dumping".
^ Cammenga, HK; LO Figura, B Zielasko (1996). "Thermal behaviour of some sugar alcohols". Journal of thermal analysis 47 (2): 427–434. doi:10.1007/BF01983984
Coca-Cola is pushing to get this into their diet pops by 2009.
good stuff mr. Big Red ALOT. :)
i always wondered about those things....they are in a lot of "sugar free" products.
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