Metabolic response to lactitol and xylitol in healthy men

Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Apr;65(4):947-50. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/65.4.947.


Sugar alcohols are used in food products, yet their metabolic effects in humans are poorly known. We examined plasma glucose, insulin, and C-peptide responses and changes in carbohydrate and lipid oxidation after the ingestion of 25 g lactitol, xylitol, or glucose. Eight healthy, nonobese men were studied after an overnight fast. After the ingestion of lactitol or xylitol, the rise in plasma glucose, insulin, and C-peptide concentrations was less than after the ingestion of glucose (P < 0.02), with no difference between the two polyols. With the glycemic index of glucose as 100, the indexes of xylitol and lactitol were 7 and -1, respectively. A reactive hypoglycemia was observed 3 h after glucose ingestion, but not after the ingestion of sugar alcohols. There were no significant changes in the carbohydrate or lipid oxidation as determined by indirect calorimetry after the ingestion of sugar alcohols. After glucose ingestion, the rise in carbohydrate oxidation was nearly significant (P = 0.07). In conclusion, lactitol and xylitol cause smaller changes than does glucose in plasma glucose and insulin concentrations and thermogenic response. A small hormonal response and the lack of a thermogenic effect may be beneficial when these sugar alcohols are used in food products. The small glucose and insulin responses also suggest that lactitol and xylitol are suitable components of the diet for diabetic patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Body Temperature Regulation / drug effects*
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Sugar Alcohols / pharmacology*
  • Xylitol / pharmacology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • C-Peptide
  • Insulin
  • Sugar Alcohols
  • lactitol
  • Xylitol