January 16

No Splenda? No Problem

3  comments

A recent commenter on my previous post about using Splenda requested some guidance for those people who don’t want to use Splenda, but would like to make some of our recipes. Because of the potential wider interest in how to make such substitutions, I decided to post the response both in the comments for that blog and here.

For those people who cannot tolerate Splenda or wish not to use it, we’d recommend substituting another low-calorie or calorie-free sweetening agent in an amount that will give the sweetening power required for the recipe. For instance if a regular high carb recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, we might modify it to use 1 cup of granular Splenda or if we wanted to keep the carbs a little lower still, we could use 24 packets of splenda and something to add the bulk of 1 cup of sugar (for instance some ThickenThin notSugar fiber product). Those not wanting to eat Splenda could instead use xylitol or erythritol in an amount to replace the sweetness of 1 cup of sugar or could use the sweetening power of saccharine or stevia along with ThickenThin notSugar or some other fiber bulking agent to replace the volume. (Because xylitol and erythritol have some bulk of their own, you probably wouldn’t need any fiber volume replacer with these.)

In general, to modify one of our recipes that uses Splenda to one using some other sweetener, use the following conversions based on the fact that 1 packet of Splenda sweetens like 2 teaspoons of sugar. Therefore:

1 packet = 2 teaspoons of sugar
12 packets = 1/2 cup sugar
24 packets = 1 cups of sugar

By determining how many packets we used of Splenda, you can determine how much sugar sweetness we were trying to replace and by extension how much of some other sweetener to use based on what its label says–ie, how that sweetener compares to the sweetening power of 1 tsp of sugar. Here’s how some common sugar substitutes compare in sweetness to sugar:

Sorbitol is 0.5x (or half) as sweet
Erythritol is 0.7x (about three quarters) as sweet
Xylitol is 1x (or equally) as sweet
Cyclamate is 30x as sweet
AcesulfameK is 200x as sweet
Stevia is 200-300x as sweet
Saccharin is 300-600x as sweet
Sucralose (Splenda) is 400-800x as sweet

Easy to see that with the last 4 sweeteners, you don’t need much to get the job done. Considering that a cup of sugar has 48 teaspoons, which for ease of calculation we could call 50, that means that it would take 1/4 teaspoon of pure acesulfame K or stevia, about 1/8 teaspoon of pure saccharin, or about 1/16th of a teaspoon of pure sucralose to sweeten like a cup of sugar. Remember though, that even in packet form, the bulk of what’s in the packet is something besides the sweetener. Usually it’s maltodextrin. This means that for whatever sweetening product you elect to use, you must read the label for information about how much of that specific product to use to replace the sweetness of sugar and calculate accordingly.

If in some recipe we used granular Splenda, which has bulk like sugar, you’d need to add a fiber bulking agent to replace the volume of 1 cup of sugar as well as the requisite number of packets of your preferred sweetener needed to replace the sweetness.

Granted, the sweetener modification process will demand your patience and persistence to perfect, just as it did for us to modify from the full carb version in the first place, but for those of you who can’t or won’t use Splenda, your reward will be a sweet recipe you can enjoy.

One last word to the wise: When making any substitutions from Splenda to some other sweetener, remember that some of them (the sugar alcohols, for instance) are at least partly absorbable and therefore do have some carb or caloric consequences…and in too great an amount can have other less socially acceptable consequences as well.

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  1. Dr. Eades, what is your opinion of the new sugar substitute “Shugr”? Also, what is your opinion of agave syrup? I know you and Dr. Mike prefer Splenda, but I’m afraid to give my kids (ages 13 and 10) any type of artificial sweetener in other than very tiny amounts, and only occasionally. With low carb pancakes I let them use agave syrup on top, and for breakfast my daughter sometimes has Greek yogurt with walnuts and agave syrup. They don’t use it too often, but I hope I’m not giving them something that’s the equivalent of corn syrup, am I?

  2. dear Dr.Eades
    I am a Diabetic,suffering for last 5 years, and I stay in INDIA,very resently about 3 months I am useing splenda,perviously I used tohave tea and other without suger,but now I am haveing a bit of problem in my body, that is I am haveing recurrently muscle cramps, mainly on my cheast muscles and and my back muscles, my qyestion is could this be a side effect of splenda, how to know this?I would be happy if you kindly advice.how ever I have got my ECG,echocardiograph done, the result of which was normal,my blood sugar is also under control now.
    thanking you
    sincerely
    J.P.GHOSH
    101F,RAJANI BHATTACHARJEE LANE
    CALCUTTA-700026
    INDIA

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  Any unusual symptom that arises after beginning a new food, new medication, or the use of a new product could potentially be related to the product.  The way to determine is to stop using the product for several weeks to see if the symptoms go away, then use the product (under the supervision of your personal physician for safety’s sake) to see if the symptoms return.  If symptoms arise with use and resolve with stopping use, there’s your answer.  If Splenda does seem to be causing your usual symptom, you might try using Stevia.

  3. I just read that erythritol is a natural occuring substance in fruit and that it is safe to use. Then I read that it was very dangerous. I don’t do SPlenda or Aspartame. I need some substitute without many carbs. Is erythritol safe? What about xylitol, oligofructose, inulin and acesulfame pot (ACE-K)? Please help!
    Thanks so much!

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Xylitol has a pretty good track record vis a vis safety and possibly even health benefit (lots of studies support its beneficial role in preventing ear infections in children, for instance) and stevia or stevia plus fructooligosaccharide (FOS) seems to have a pretty safe profile, too. The problem with stevia is that even a teensy bit too much is bitter. In small doses, any of them are probably reasonably safe and sticking to small doses of sweet things is the best advice of all, whether sweetened with real sugar or honey or with artificial or natural non-caloric or minimally caloric sweeteners.

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