Hey Dieters: Olestra Gets A Bad Rap Whilst Maltitol Skates Free?

Hey folks, I have a predisposition to type 2 diabetes, so try to avoid both sugar and fat like the plagues they are for me! I have recently been delighted by Lays Light spud chips which are made with Olestra, as they taste about 2 million times better than those other light Pringle-like reconstituted chips Lays makes. I have been reading online about the numerous complaints-lawsuits over Olestra as a food additive, since the mid-90’s, even up to a lawsuit filed last year against Frito Lays for not having more warning banners all over the Lay’s Lights chip bags regarding Olestra’s one nasty drawback: it can cause gas-bloating-excessive diarrhea in sensitive folks. And I have this question:

Maltitol and other sugar alcohols cause the same kind of effect in sensitive individuals, yet this sugar substitute seems to come under NO fire for this. Why do you suppose this is the case? No one is suing Hershey’s for their sugar-free chocolates made with maltitol or sorbitol, even tho eating even the suggested serving amount will put many folks a world of hurt. There seems to be nearly NO controversy over sugar alcohols, although many admit to having felt the same side effects.

I happen to be one of the lucky ones regarding Olestra but one of the very unlucky when it comes to sugar alcohols—I have gotten major cases of bloating, gas and even wicked stomach cramping where I have been doubled over in pain from eating maltitol, even at “suggested serviing” levels. Olestra? No bloating, little to no gas, maybe a bit of loose bowels a day later. WORTH IT—for a product where eating a whole bag of it is only 675 calories (I haven’t done this, but thinking about it makes me happy…), and no fat!

I find sugar alcohols to be a larger demon than fake fat.

Anyone else agree with me that Olestra ain’t so bad when compared to maltitol/sugar alcohol? Or am I wrong, and Olestra deserves the grief it appears to be getting?

I’m not saying either should be consumed on a regular basis or as substitutes for “real” food----but for us potential type 2’s who need an occasional salty or sugary snack, these products have been a lifesaver. Just a small disclaimer.

I don’t know about the specific needs of pre-diabetics, but I know that for my diabetic father, potatoes are just as bad as sugar, so taking out the fat isn’t helping you much, unless you only have to worry about calories.

My guess as to why Olestra is under fire, while maltitol isn’t, is that maltitol has been used in sugar-free products for a long time. People are used to it. This country didn’t get lawsuit-fever until long after the introduction of maltitol. However, Olestra was introduced just in time for the lawsuit-happy folks out there to see opportunity to dig in deep pockets. JMHO, of course.

Most of the spotlight on Olestra has been due to the side effect of “anal leakage,” which is worse than just gas or cramping.

I think that the real problem with it is that it leeches fat-soluble nutrients out of your diet, though. It’s not just neutral, it’s anti-nutritional.

75 calories of potato w/no fat is about a quarter of a regular-size potato. I haven’t considered it deadly for me, I guess. Can’t eat those pork rind thingys, which might be more perfectly low-carb but not low-fat.

Another vote for why is a diabetic worried about fat instead of carbs?

I’m not sure about Maltitol but Xyolitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol present in fruit, while Olestra is artificial, which may have something to do with it. If all sugar alcohols are actually natural I would not expect such a outcry.

OTOH Artificial substances, such as Nutra Sweet, Splenda, and Olestra (along with trans fat) all get a automatic bad rap because they were manufactured.

I’m not saying that everything natural is good and everything man made is bad, but there is a general public perception out there to that effect.

I am wondering if it’s because there’s not just one to blame. There’s all sorts of sugar substitutes (some sugar alcohols, some not) - sucralose, malitol, xylitol, erythitol, aspartame, ace-k…and a lot more I am forgetting. Some of them cause problems in some people, some in others, some not at all (my aunt has problems with Splenda (sucralose), while most people do not). You can go through a lot of sugar free products and not run into the same mixture of sweeteners twice.

With Olestra, there’s only one. And it was popularly used in one thing. It was very easy to target.

Tryin’ to keep weight off is all, folks. I tried and tried and TRIED Atkins-type diets and frankly, unless I cut calories to a bare minimum and stepped up my exercise considerably more than was even recommended by low-carb diets, I could not lose weight. Low-cal on a low-carb is painful, as the diet relies on fat calories which are more dense (9 cals to a gram instead of 4 for proteins and carbs) and thus you just cannot eat much at all & stick to 1200 calories a day.

I’m well over 40, have the metabolism of a common garden slug, and can only lose effectively when I stick to 4 or 5 small meals of 250-300 cals each, and get 5 solid days of an hour at least of aerobic exercise. I lost 50 lbs this way 2 years ago, and must work hard to keep it off. My doc says weight loss and maintenance of a lower weight is as effective as cutting out all sugars for a pre-diabetic, but perhaps I need to see a new doc?

BTW, I do eat good fats–olive oils, fish oils, some nut oils, etc. Just in extreme moderation.

Ok, my cite is House so don’t kill me. But they had a buy on there who had quit smoking and was chewing gum instead. He chewed so much (umpteen packs a day) that the sorbitol was giving him diarrhea. So maybe it’s only if you eat a whole lot, vs. a lot less of Olestra? So Olestra would be a more likely culprit?

I don’t think that’s it. As pointed out in the OP, many people have unpleasant side-effects from eating less than a suggested serving size of the sugar substitutes. I know my hubby can eat two mini sugar-free Hershey bars, and I’m ready to make him sleep on the sofa for the night!! And there are people who can eat a lot of either the maltitol or the Olestra wtih no apparent ill effects.

Obviously, if you go really overboard on just about anything (including water, remember?), you’re asking for trouble.