When discussing nutrition and health, carbohydrates are not created equally. Low-digestible carbohydrates are not completely digested or absorbed by your body.

Accordingly, they contain fewer calories per gram than other fully digested carbohydrates, such as sucrose. For example, low-digestible carbohydrates contain 1 to 3 calories per gram compared to fully digestible carbohydrates, which contain 4 calories per gram. The most plentiful low-digestible carbohydrates in the American diet are sugar alcohols and fiber.

The benefits of consuming low-digestible carbohydrates include decreased absorption and incomplete digestion. Fiber helps to increase your feeling of fullness, thereby helping you consume less.

Sugar Alcohols:

  • Are used in foods to replace sugars such as high fructose corn syrup or sucrose
  • Are found in many baked goods, candy, gum, and ice cream products
  • Are sweet but not considered a true sugar
  • Are absorbed and digested more slowly than regular sugar
  • Provide half the calories of regular sugar
  • Are not absorbed when undigested, and are excreted through the GI system

Substituting foods made with sugar alcohols may help you consume fewer calories and lose or maintain weight loss over time. Additionally, sugar alcohols may help promote regular bowel function. However, consuming excessive amounts of fiber and sugar alcohols may cause diarrhea. The established estimated acceptable intakes for sugar alcohols such as mannitol is 20g/day, and 40g/day for polyglycitol, maltitol, and polyglycitol.


  • Is not digested in the small intestine and is passed naturally from the body
  • Includes all non-digestible carbohydrates from plant and animal sources
  • Is used as a bulking and thickening agent by many food manufacturers
  • Includes inulin and fructo-oligosaccarides, types of non-digestible carbohydrates that may be used to replace fat or sugar. They also have prebiotic capabilities that help stimulate the growth of good bacteria in your stomach.

The total carbohydrates listed on a food label consists of the low-digestible carbohydrate breakdown of fiber and sugar alcohols. As with any new addition to your diet, consume only one serving at a time to determine your tolerance or the source of any negative reaction.