The low calorie sweetener erythritol may seem too good to be true.

It’s natural, doesn’t cause side effects, and tastes almost exactly like sugar — without the calories.

Basically, it has all the positive aspects of regular sugar without any of the negatives, although some media outlets question its benefits.

This evidence-based article reviews the benefits and possible side effects of erythritol.

Erythritol - Sugar but without Calories?! Knowledge erythritol
What is erythritol?

Erythritol belongs to a class of compounds called sugar alcohols.

Food producers use many sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol.

Most of them function as low calorie sweeteners in sugar-free or low sugar products.

Most sugar alcohols are found in small amounts in nature, especially in fruits and vegetables.

Because of the way these molecules are structured, they can stimulate the sweet taste receptors on your tongue.

Erythritol appears to be quite different from the other sugar alcohols.

To begin with, it contains many fewer calories:

  • Table sugar: 4 calories per gram
  • Xylitol: 2.4 calories per gram
  • Erythritol: 0.24 calories per gram

With only 6% of the calories of sugar, it still contains 70% of the sweetness.

In large-scale production, erythritol is created when a type of yeast ferments glucose from corn or wheat starch. The final product looks like powdery white crystals.


Erythritol is a sugar alcohol used as a low calorie sweetener. It provides only about 6% of the calories found in an equal amount of sugar.

Is erythritol safe?

Overall, erythritol appears to be very safe.

Multiple studies on its toxicity and effects on metabolism have been performed in animals. Erythritol has been found safe for both human and animal consumption.

However, there is one major caveat to most sugar alcohols: They can cause digestive issues.

Due to their unique chemical structure, your body can’t digest them, and they pass unchanged through most of your digestive system, until they reach your colon.

In your colon, they’re fermented by the resident bacteria, which produce gas as a byproduct.

Consequently, eating large amounts of sugar alcohols may cause bloating and digestive upset. In fact, they belong to a category of fiber known as FODMAPs.

However, erythritol is different from the other sugar alcohols. Most of it gets absorbed into your bloodstream before it reaches your colon .

It circulates in your blood for a while, until it’s eventually excreted unchanged in your urine. About 90% of erythritol is excreted this way.


Most of the erythritol you eat is absorbed into your bloodstream and excreted in urine. It seems to have an excellent safety profile.