What is Allulose? FAQs

What is Allulose? FAQs

Feb 10th 2021

We’ve spent hundreds of hours in the kitchen perfecting the craft of no sugar added baking. In our quest, we’ve searched high and low for an alternative sweetener that tastes like sugar, performs like sugar, is low-glycemic and nearly calorie-free. The great news? We’ve found one! Allulose.

If you follow a diabetic, low-carb or keto diet, take it from seasoned baker Jude that allulose makes a fantastic swap for sugar. We hope the following answers to our most frequently asked questions about allulose will satisfy your curiosity and your sweet tooth!

What is allulose? The short answer.

Allulose is a naturally-occurring, low calorie sugar that exists in nature in very small quantities. It is about 70% as sweet as table sugar with 1/10th the calories. It offers the same sweet, clean taste of sugar with no odd aftertaste.

Allulose is minimally metabolized by the body. It exhibits no glycemic response—no insulin spikes, no elevated blood sugar.

Allulose is considered a “rare sugar” because it exists in very miniscule amounts in nature. You’ll find it in jackfruit, figs, raisins, molasses and maple syrup, but to extract it from these sources is not cost-effective. So we turn to science to lend a hand! Thanks to the work of Ken Izumori[1] and fellow researchers, we are able to make allulose widely available by converting the starch in corn and wheat.

What is the story on carbs?

Before we dive into why allulose is so extraordinary (we really think it is!), let’s pause for a quick Carb 101 lesson. Carbohydrates are an essential structural component of living cells, provide energy, and are the primary fuel source for the brain. A carbohydrate is a molecule containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

Carbohydrates, also known as saccharides, are classified into two groups—simple and complex.

Simple Sugars/Carbohydrates:

  • Monosaccharide: Saccharides such as glucose, fructose, galactose, allulose and xylose are examples of monosaccharides because they are made up of a single molecule.
  • Disaccharides: When the monosaccharides glucose and fructose team up, the result is the two-molecule disaccharide, sucrose. This pairing happens in plants all the time—sugar cane and sugar beets contain the greatest quantities of sucrose. When harvested and refined, you have table sugar. Other disaccharides worth mentioning are lactose and maltose.

Complex Sugars/Carbohydrates:

  • Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates and are most abundant in legumes, whole grains, vegetables and certain fruits. For the purpose of understanding sweeteners, we will focus our discussion on simple sugars.

Are all carbs bad?

It’s a sweet shame that carbohydrates get a bad rap when without them life would cease to exist. Glucose, for example, is one of the most common monosaccharides in nature, used by nearly every form of life! So wherein lies the problem with carbohydrates? It’s in the type and quantity consumed. The primary function of carbohydrates is to provide the body with energy, and complex carbohydrates do this most effectively. Unprocessed, complex carbohydrates are generally fiber-rich, more filling, and take longer to digest which in turn provides consistent energy over a longer period of time. What you want to avoid are refined carbohydrates like white rice, white potatoes, bread and pasta. Also, steer clear of liquid calories found in sports drinks, juices, soda, alcohol and flavored coffee. These are the carbs that have given carbohydrates a bad rap.

Is allulose artificial?

No, according to the definition found on the FDA's website[2], allulose is a natural sweetener. The FDA states that “natural ingredients” are "found in nature." On the other hand, the FDA states that artificial[3] ingredients are not found in nature and so, are "artificially produced." Essentially, in the FDA's view, both synthetic and artificial sweeteners are "manufactured artificially," but one is found in nature, and the other is not. Allulose is found in nature.

What is the difference between “artificial” and “synthetic” sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and aspartame, are made using chemicals that were not originally sourced from nature and do not exist in nature. According to Adriane Mulinari Campos, chemical engineer and a former researcher at Caltech, a synthetic sweetener is a sweetener that does not occur in the plant from which it is manufactured and is obtained through processes that chemically change or break down components of a raw material, involving the use of enzymes, fermentation, and/or acids.

Mulinari goes on to explain that “sweeteners, such as glucose, fructose, xylitol, and erythritol, are found in nature. However, synthetic copies of their natural counterparts are produced much more cost-effectively, with more purity and consistency. "Natural sweetener-like" ingredients (synthetic copies of a natural sweetener) are chemically identical to their naturally-occurring counterpart (intrinsic and intact in plants). Synthetic sweeteners are often referred to as naturally-occurring sweeteners.” [4]

In the case of allulose, it is promoted as a natural sweetener because it is found in nature in jackfruit, dried fruits, maple syrup, and molasses. However, to be produced in a cost effective way, allulose is not isolated from those sources. Most commercially available allulose is synthetically made from corn. Corn does not contain allulose.

How is allulose made and is it non-GMO?

Our supplier produces allulose using non-gmo corn which is broken down into starch and fructose. The fructose is then converted to allulose via enzymatic conversion using enzymes from a genetically engineered microbe (GEM). The GEM used serves only as a processing aid and is not present in the final product [allulose]. Recent law makes clear that ingredients produced with enzymes or other processing aids from GEMs do not trigger disclosure as ‘bioengineered’ foods if those microbes or enzymes do not function as ingredients in the final product.”[5]

Are there any unpleasant side effects from allulose?

Alternative sweeteners such as erythritol and xylitol can cause gas, bloating and other gastrointestinal issues in some people. Many sources claim the same for allulose. On our ingredient labels we include the statement “Excess consumption of allulose may have a laxative effect” because for some people it does. But frankly, we’ve found that when enjoyed in moderation, there are little to no gastrointestinal side effects. Our advice? Just go easy, sticking to a serving or two at a time.

Is allulose diabetic- and keto-friendly?

Yes. With a glycemic index (GI) of zero, allulose does not cause blood glucose spikes and keeps you in ketosis without interruption.

Is allulose paleo-friendly?

Foundational to the paleo diet is the elimination of highly processed foods. Because allulose is commercially produced (with the exception of minimal amounts found in nature in dried fruits, brown sugar, jackfruit, and figs), strict paleo eaters should opt for natural, minimally processed sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup.

How are net carbs calculated when allulose is an ingredient?

Allulose is a pretty special sugar, in fact, it was the first sugar the FDA allowed to not be included as part of the total or added sugars declarations on nutrition labels. This also makes the net carb calculation using the nutrition label a bit confusing. That is why The Unsweetened Tooth employs an expert, third-party nutrition lab to analyze, calculate nutrition and produce our nutrition labels. Allulose.org offers some great information on this.

In the case of The Unsweetened Tooth Lemon Curd, the calculation for net carbs would be as follows:

6g total carbohydrates - 0g fiber - 5g allulose = 1 net carb per serving

On April 17, 2019 the FDA issued guidance on the labeling of allulose, a sweetener that may be used as a substitute for certain sugars in foods, so that the information presented on Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels appropriately represents its unique properties. Allulose is different from other sugars in that it is not metabolized by the human body in the same way as table sugar. It has fewer calories, produces only negligible increases in blood glucose or insulin levels, and does not promote dental decay. As such, the FDA issued guidance stating that they intend to exercise enforcement discretion to allow allulose to be excluded from the total and added sugars declarations on the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts labels when allulose is used as an ingredient. Allulose will still count towards the caloric value of the food on the label – but the guidance document issued today states our intent to exercise enforcement discretion to allow the use of a revised, lower calorie count. As with other ingredients, allulose must still be declared in the ingredient list. This is the first time the FDA has stated its intent to allow a sugar to not be included as part of the total or added sugars declarations on labels.

What forms does allulose come in?

Allulose is available in syrup, crystalline and powdered form.

Where may I purchase allulose?

As allulose gains in popularity and awareness, we are seeing it more and more on shelves of natural food stores and even Costco. For reviews of different brands and where to buy them, we suggest visiting www.whatsugar.com.

Do you have any tips for baking with allulose?

Allulose makes a fabulous low-calorie substitution for sugar and performs well in most recipes. Characteristics to consider when swapping allulose for sugar in baking:

  1. Caramelization: Allulose caramelizes and browns at a lower temperature than table sugar. Jude suggests baking at a lower temperature for a longer time and highly advises not baking any higher than 300˚F. When baking in dark pans, definitely lower the oven temperature by 25˚F.
  2. Moisture: Because allulose attracts water, “crispy” is difficult to achieve. If you enjoy soft-bake cookies and tender cakes, allulose will not let you down.
  3. Sweetness: Because allulose is 70% as sweet as sugar, you can make up the sweet difference by using one third more allulose or you may choose to increase the sweetness with the addition of stevia extract or monk fruit.


[1] Establishment of production methods of rare sugars by Izumoring. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.kagawa-isf.jp/glycobio/english/pdf/production_01.pdf

[2,3] Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2010, April). Overview of food ingredients, additives & colors. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-ingredients-packaging/overview-food-ingredients-additives-colors#qanatural

[4] Campos, A. (2020, September 14). What exactly is a "natural" sweetener? It's not what you might think. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.whatsugar.com/post/whats-natural-sweetener-its-not-what-you-might-think

[5] Watson, E. (2019, May 13). Tate & Lyle: 'the first two things consumers look for on the nutrition facts panel now are calories and sugar'. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Article/2019/05/13/Tate-Lyle-talks-allulose-The-first-two-things-consumers-look-for-on-the-Nutrition-Facts-panel-now-are-calories-and-sugar