Too Good to be True? A Natural Sugar for Weight Loss

HOW IT COMPARES TO THE NEW DRUG HAILED AS “THE HOLY GRAIL” BY OBESITY DOCTORS PLUS A RECIPE FOR PERFECT CHOCOLATE SAUCE MADE WITH IT.

Chocolate Sauce Perfection (Allulose Sweetened), Photo by Judy Barnes Baker © 2021 (carbwarscookbooks.com)
Chocolate Sauce Perfection (Allulose Sweetened), Photo by Judy Barnes Baker © 2021

Research is showing that a certain natural sugar has multiple health benefits, including lowering blood glucose and significant weight loss. Two servings of food sweetened with seven grams each of this delicious substance have an effect comparable to that of a new drug for weight loss or even bariatric surgery! This is what the science shows may be possible:

  • We can lose a significant amount of weight in a short time without making any other lifestyle changes;
  • It could help us achieve ketosis with less strict low-carb adherence;
  • Sugar replacements and recipes could be devised that contain exactly the amount of this sugar necessary to counteract their carbohydrate content to keep blood glucose from rising or falling.
  • It achieves a 10% reduction in blood glucose that could be a game changer for treating diabetes.

The sugar is allulose, a natural pentose sugar similar to fructose, that I wrote about here. A randomized, placebo-controlled study from Korea, designed to show how it affects weight loss, discovered that “body fat percentage and fat mass were significantly reduced” after supplementation with d-allulose. For the study, 121 obese/overweight subjects, aged 20 to 40, were randomized into one of 3 groups. They were given bottled drinks that were custom-made to the researchers’ specifications. Twice a day, all the participants got a fruit-flavored, non-carbonated drink that was sweetened with sucralose for the placebo group, 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of allulose for the low dose group, or 7 grams (1¾ teaspoons) of allulose for the high dose group. The only difference in the three arms of the study was the amount of allulose in the drinks; everything else remained the same. The test lasted 12 weeks (3 months). The researches wanted to see if the weight loss effect observed in other trials was dose dependent. The conclusion of the study reported, “…The high d-allulose group revealed a significant decrease in not only body mass index (BMI), but also total abdominal and subcutaneous fat areas measured by CT scans compared to the placebo group….These results provide useful information on the dose-dependent effect of d-allulose for overweight/obese adult humans….” A Preliminary Study for Evaluating the Dose-Dependent Effect of d-Allulose for Fat Mass Reduction in Adult Humans: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial (nih.gov) Complete results from the Korean study are here.

Other studies found benefits beyond weight loss:

“…Human trials showed that d-allulose attenuates postprandial glucose levels in healthy subjects and in borderline diabetic subjects. The anti-hyperlipidemic effect of d-allulose, combined with its anti-inflammatory actions on adipocytes, is beneficial for the prevention of both obesity and atherosclerosis and is accompanied by improvements in insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance.…”

Rare sugar d-allulose: Potential role and therapeutic monitoring in maintaining obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus

Dr. Peter Attia tells us more about the research and adds his personal n=1 experience with allulose:

“…Data from animal studies suggest that compared to fructose and/or glucose, allulose may lower blood glucose, reduce abdominal fat, decrease insulin resistance and fat accumulation in the liver, and prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. In a recent meta-analysis of human trials, when allulose was given with carbohydrate-containing meals, it was found to decrease postprandial glucose by 10% (noting that the quality of evidence is moderate). I can anecdotally support that when I put allulose into black coffee, my blood glucose goes down. Usually black coffee would be neutral for my blood sugar, so this suggests that allulose is pulling glucose out of my body via my kidneys….Let that all sink in for a moment: allulose—slightly less sweet than the taste profile of sucrose, with the mirror image configuration of fructose—does not increase blood glucose, but actually drags glucose with it to excretion….”

Replacing sugar with allulose – Peter Attia (peterattiamd.com)

The Safety of Allulose:

Allulose has been given GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe Status). It is found in small amounts in natural foods, including wheat, figs, raisins, maple syrup, and brown sugar. It seems to be very safe, but anyone who is at risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) may need to be careful with it until they see how they react. I have not seen any warnings in regard to that possibility, but it is conceivable that it could alter the effect of medications for diabetes that lower blood glucose levels and for steroids, like prednisone and hydro-cortisone that ramp up gluconeogenesis to prevent low blood sugar. In other words, it might be too effective at doing what would be considered a good thing for most of us, most of the time, but hypoglycemia can be serious for those at risk.

Some highly sensitive people may experience digestive distress after excess consumption of Allulose; the manufacturer describes “excess” as more than 61.2 grams or the equivalent of 15.3 teaspoons of sugar per day for a 150 pound adult. The study of Korean men, cited above, showed that they could consume the maximum recommended amount of Allulose with no symptoms, which is especially significant considering that the subjects ate the same high amount of carbs and sugar in the normal Korean diet in addition to the allulose during the trial. Replacing sugar with allulose – Peter Attia (peterattiamd.com)

The bottom line regarding allulose:

14 grams of allulose per day is useful for weight control and it improves other health markers in the bargain; more may be better, if you tolerate it well.

Now compare that to this:

THE LATEST BREAKTHROUGH FOR WEIGHT LOSS FROM MAIN STREAM MEDICINE
Results from a trial on the medication, Semaglutide”

A report heralded as “stunning news” announced a new use for a diabetes drug repurposed for weight loss. The article was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Feb 10, 2021. The study’s authors described the study as the start of a “new era in obesity treatment.”

A total of 1,961 subjects with an average BMI of 30, but without diabetes, were recruited for a trial of the drug Semaglutide. Participants were divided into two groups. One got a placebo; the other got an injection of the real drug once a week. In addition to taking the real or fake medicine, both the placebo and the actual test subjects received instruction from the study staff about healthy food choices, how to be more physically active, and how to lose weight. All were instructed to eat a healthful diet and to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. After 68 weeks (that’s 1 year and 3 months) the Semaglutide group lost an average of 33.7 pounds; most of them lost at least 10% of their body weight and more than half lost 15%. (This indicates that the 10% losers had an average weight of 337 pounds to start and 303.7 after 68 weeks; the 15% losers would have averaged 353.85 pounds to start and 319 at the end.)

Dr. Mariela Glandt, a diabetes expert and contributor to “ASweetLife,” says she prefers to use the medication in combination with a low-carbohydrate diet, “which itself can deliver some of the same results of increasing insulin sensitivity, curbing hunger and facilitating weight loss.” Indeed. IMO, low-carb, keto, or intermittent fasting alone can out-perform this drug. 

And now for the bad news:

  • Adverse effects of Semaglutide therapy include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation.[12] In people with heart problems, it can cause damage to the back of the eye (retinopathy).[13] Side effects include medullary thyroid cancer, kidney problems, diabetic retinopathy, allergic reactions, low blood sugar, and pancreatitis.[9]  The drug is also known to cause an elevated heart rate, and its long-term safety “is still a mystery.”
  • Semaglutide is a very expensive drug.  According to The New York Times, the dosage used to treat diabetes has an average retail price of about $1,000 a month (so $15,000 for 68 weeks); and using it for weight loss requires significantly larger doses. Sadly, when the pricey drug therapy was discontinued, the study subjects reported that they started to regain the weight.  (Allulose costs about $.50 an ounce; 14 grams would cost $.25. So the total cost for the 16 weeks of supplementation for the allulose trial would be about $21.00, assuming you don’t deduct the cost of what it is replacing. And you can follow the protocol and keep eating allulose as long as you want or need to.)

How does Semaglutide work?

Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist that increases the production of insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar.[14]

NOTE: But high insulin may be as bad as high glucose or even worse! Why High Insulin Levels Are Dangerous. by Dr. Jay Jacko

  • “High insulin levels increase fat stores leading to obesity and obesity increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, and strokes.”
  • “High insulin levels are linked to higher cancer rates and that includes higher rates from medications designed to increase insulin levels (drugs used to treat diabetes – the sulfonylurea drugs). Metformin is a diabetic drug that lowers insulin levels and reduces the risk of many cancers. Excess insulin causes inflammation and free radicals which increase the chances of cancer developing. Excess insulin also promotes cell growth.”
  • “High insulin levels increase blood pressure by impairing sodium balance. Plus, high insulin damages the kidneys and the kidneys play a critical role in controlling blood pressure.”
  • “High insulin levels leading to thickening of the inner layers of arteries increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
  • “Elevated insulin levels increase the production of beta-amyloid in brain cells which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Allulose or Semaglutide, Which is Better?

Some of you out there who are more clever than I am may be able to parse the detailed results reported from the two trials and figure out exactly how they compare in regard to weight loss and health benefits, however there is no question about which is the more appealing! Keep in mind that the Korean test subjects were consuming two extra sweet treats per day, in addition to the carbs and sugar in the normal Korean diet, while those testing Semaglutide were getting expensive injections every week, watching what they ate, and increasing their physical exertion. 

Hmmm, which would you choose?


CHOCOLATE SAUCE PERFECTION

Chocolate-Sauce-with-Berries
Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce and Berries, Judy Barnes Baker, © 2021

The five pentose sugar, allulose, is the secret to this decadent low-carb and low-calorie chocolate sauce that won’t become grainy when stored or chewy when poured over ice cream. It tastes like sugar because it IS sugar, but one that is almost completely excreted by the kidneys before it can be used or stored. AND, it has the ability to lower blood glucose levels, not something you would expect from a sweetener. So enjoy your dessert; it’s good for you!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup powdered or granular allulose sweetener
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt (don’t omit; it counteracts bitterness)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Whisk sweetener, cocoa powder, and salt together in a large saucepan until well blended and lump free. Add a small amount of the water and stir to make a smooth paste. Slowly whisk in the remaining water.

Place pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. It should bubble but not come to a rolling boil. Watch it so it doesn’t boil over and be careful not to get splattered.

Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. It should be thick enough to use as fudge sauce over ice cream as is, but you can make it thinner, like Hershey’s syrup, by adding water, one tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.

Let sauce cool for about half an hour then transfer to a jar with a lid or pour into a silicone squeeze bottle (the kind used for condiments like ketchup). Refrigerate; for a more pourable sauce, let it warm up to room temperature before using or dip the closed jar in warm water to speed up the process.

Use as a topping for ice cream and other desserts and garnish with whipped cream and/or fresh berries, if desired. Or stir into low-carb milk to make chocolate milk, or add to light cream for hot cocoa.

Makes about 1½ cups or 12 servings of 2 tablespoons each.

Serving: 12 servings

Nutrition Data per serving:
Calories 10.8; Fat 0.6g; Carbs 2.8g; Allulose: 4g; Fiber 1.8g; Protein 0.9g;
RAE (Retinol Activity Equivalent): 0 mcg

* This recipe for chocolate sauce was inspired by one from my friend Carolyn Ketchum, the queen of low-carb baking, at alldayidreamaboutfood.com.

Chocolate-Sauce-on-Ice-Cream-1 (carbwarscookbooks.com)
Allulose Sweetened Chocolate Sauce Over Ice Cream; Photo credit: Judy Barnes Baker ©2021

My recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream Perfection using allulose is here.


Notes: More About Allulose

A 2019 decision by the FDA allows the low-calorie sweetener, allulose, to be excluded from total and added sugars counts on Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels when used as an ingredient. The nutrition label may list it as sugar, but manufacturers can legally say, “Zero Carbs” and “Zero Sugar” elsewhere on the package because very little is metabolized.

A frequent complaint about allulose is that it is too expensive. We have been spoiled by cheap sugar, which is only cheap because it is heavily subsidized, so we are paying for it with our taxes. As more brands of allulose come on the market, the cost is coming down. Compare prices between the various products to find the best buy; at the time of this writing, the one sold by Tate and Lyle was about $.50 per ounce on Amazon, while some were over $1.00 per ounce. You may substitute a cheaper, erythritol-based sweetener for 1/3 or less of the allulose to reduce the price, but your sauce may crystalize a bit more. You might also try Bocha Sweet, but keep in mind that the research was done on d-allulose, aka Allulose. Xylitol will also work in recipes that call for allulose, but it is a sugar alcohol and won’t have the same benefits. It is also much more likely to cause digestive distress and it is toxic to dogs.

Disclaimers:

I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice. If you believe you have a health problem, consult a medical practitioner.

I am not an affiliate of any company and do not receive a commission on product sales.


© 2021, Judy Barnes Baker

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
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Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
7 months ago

I just found liquid Allulose on the clearance shelf of my health food store–it came home with me. The ketodietapp website just posted a recipe for DIY pancake syrup using Allulose…hmmm–these things all MUST be related somehow (or just hella’ serendipidous). Now I’m off to find new recipes containing Allulose!

Diana
Diana
Reply to  Judy Barnes Baker
7 months ago

I’ve been buying allulose from Hoosier Hill Farms for about $5.60/lb–best price I’ve found so far. It has become my only sweetener because it has a nice clean sweetness with no “off” aftertaste, and my blood sugar levels have been really good!

Justin Marchert
Justin Marchert
6 months ago

Sounds great! Didn’t see it at our local grocery store (Ralph’s) but will try Whole Foods next. Excited to try making home-made ice cream with it, then adding the chocolate sauce recipe on top. 🙂

Minerva
3 months ago

I will try this recipe. But allulose is goog for health? FDA approved?

Minerva
Reply to  Judy Barnes Baker
3 months ago

Thanks for your reply