Maltitol: harm, benefits, glycemic index and is it allowed on keto


In the next five minutes, let’s figure it out: why do “sugar-free” products with maltitol prevent you from losing weight? And is maltitol keto?

What is the perfect sugar substitute?

  • does not affect blood glucose levels
  • has zero calories
  • safe for blood vessels
  • sweet

All these correspond to keto-friendly sugar substitutes: stevia and monk fruit. Erythritol is also good, but it is disliked for its chill effect and can cause bloating if overdone. Maltitol has more serious drawbacks.

What is maltitol?

Maltitol, also known as hydrogenated maltose, hydrogenated glucose syrup, Maltisweet, SweetPearl, maltitol syrup, sometimes malt sugar, and most often – E965 food additive.

Sugar alcohols are nothing like alcohol: they do not contain ethanol. They are carbohydrates that have the characteristics of both sugar and alcohol. Furthermore, sugar alcohols are naturally found in fruits and vegetables. For example, a small amount of maltitol is found in chicory leaves.

Externally, maltitol is a white crystalline powder. It is only 10% less sweet than beetroot sugar.

What is made from?

Maltitol is synthesized from maltose (malt sugar), which comes from corn or potato starch. Can be heated up to 200°C, and melts at 148°C.

What is maltitol found in?

  • bakery
  • candies
  • medicines
  • toothpaste and mouthwash
  • ice cream
  • protein bars
  • chewing gum

In addition to the sweet taste, maltitol, like other sugar alcohols, is responsible for keeping moisture in bakery and helps to preserve its structure and crunchiness for a long time. It makes jams and jelly more transparent and enhances the flavor.

maltitol keto
They are really sugar-free but full of maltitol

Sugar alcohols and keto

Of all sugar alcohols, maltitol is almost a perfect twin of sugar: no aftertaste, no specific smell, and almost as sweet as sugar.

Maltitol is partially metabolized in the intestine, the rest is fermented by the intestinal microbiota, and about 15% is excreted unchanged from the body.

If you eat more than 50 grams per day (for some people 30 grams is enough), you are at risk of getting problems with the gastrointestinal tract: gas formation, bloating, and other “joys of life”.

But there’s a more serious reason to avoid this buddy, not just because of keto diet.

How many calories are in maltitol?

Approximately 210 calories per 100 grams.

Is Maltitol Keto?

When choosing keto sweeteners, look for zero-carb, low-calorie, and low-glycemic options.

Sugar alcohols contain fewer calories than usual sugar. Technically, products with them quite “legally” become “low-calorie”.

But maltitol is harmful because of the glycemic index. GI is an indicator of the speed at which glucose from the product is broken down in the gastrointestinal tract and enters the bloodstream: the higher the index, the higher the sugar spike.

Most sugar alcohols have a low GI, but not maltitol:

  • sugar – 65
  • maltitol in syrup – 54
  • maltitol powder – 35
  • xylitol – 13
  • sorbitol – 9
  • isomalt – 2
  • erythritol – 0

Many are convinced that maltitol does not affect blood glucose levels so much, but this is not true. For example, 50 grams of maltitol syrup raises its level by 40 points in just 30 minutes!

The glycemic index of maltitol is lower than that of sugar. But still too far from ideal. Moreover, it is very high relative to other sugar alcohols. And this is the main disadvantage that sends him to the outsiders.

Maltitol is definitely not keto!

Sugar VS Maltitol

4 calories per gram
glycemic index 60
100% sweet
causes caries 
2.1 calories per gram
glycemic index 52
75-90% sweet
may help prevent tooth decay 
maltitol keto
They are really sugar-free but full of maltitol

Erythritol VS Maltitol

0.24 calories per gram·
glycemic index 0
60-80% sweet
suitable for keto 
2.1 calories per gram
glycemic index 52
75-90% sweet
not keto 

Benefits of maltitol

Why it is loved by manufacturers of “sugar-free” products:

  • Heat-resistant – does not change properties when heated.
  • Close to sugar in sweetness.
  • Not metabolized by bacteria in the oral cavity, and therefore does not cause caries. That is why maltitol can be found in toothpaste and chewing gum.
  • No off-flavors or aftertaste like many sweeteners.


  • Less sweet – you have to add more than usual sugar.
  • Maltitol draws water from the intestines, hence flatulence and diarrhea. The severity of these side effects depends on the amount of maltitol and the individual reaction of the body. 90 g guarantee diarrhea, and 50 g cause rumbling and slight bloating. That’s why the packaging of products with maltitol often warns about the “possible laxative effect.”
  • GI is almost the same as that of sugar. It raises blood glucose, although less than sugar. If you have diabetes, it is better to exclude maltitol.


  • By using maltitol you are not removing sugar from your diet, you are just using a more expensive way to sweeten food.
  • Maltitol is definitely worth avoiding on keto, if you want to lose weight and be healthy.
  • Maltitol is a bad substitute for sugar because it affects the level of blood glucose, and if you overdo it, it can also break the microbiota balance.
  • Yes, it has fewer calories, which gives the manufacturers an opportunity to claim products with maltitol as ideal for weight loss.
  • Always read the labels of “sugar-free” products to make sure they contain neither maltitol nor maltitol syrup.

Best sweeteners on a low-carb keto diet

  • Stevia 
  • Erythritol 
  • Monk fruit 
  • Allulose 

Dessert recipes using sugar substitutes

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Keto Meringue Cookies
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