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Blog Nutrition Dextrose Vs Sugar: Which Is The Best Healthy Alternative?

Dextrose Vs Sugar: Which Is The Best Healthy Alternative?

dextrose vs powdered sugar

Over the last few years, many people have become pretty concerned about their health. Perhaps this is linked to the numerous health conditions which have arisen from the sedentary lifestyle adopted by most people. As a result, more and more people are cautious of what they eat. Primarily they want to confirm that they are eating healthy and getting the most out of their eating. This really spells it out for most people with a sweet tooth. It seems that people feel it’s a toss up between dextrose and sugar. Please read on and for our take on dextrose vs sugar. We will explore the similarities, benefits, risks, and impact of the two on weight loss. Continue on to discover the healthier option of the two.

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Dextrose Vs Sugar

When it comes to sweeteners, most people assume that they are all the same. There is a belief that they are all just sugars that only differ in their calorie content. Notably, this is not the case. All sugars may have almost the same taste, but they are all very different in other ways. This means that dextrose and table sugar are really two different sweeteners.

Dextrose is an example of a simple sugar that is obtained from corn (4). It is pretty similar to sucrose, which might explain why people tend to mistake the two. Chemically dextrose is identical to glucose, which is the sugar primarily used as energy by the body (4). Dextrose has a popular use in foods as an artificial sweetener. You can also find it in ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup (4).

On the other hand, sugar is a simple carbohydrate belonging to the class of chemically related sweet-tasting products (5). It is most commonly found in three different forms: lactose, sucrose, and fructose (5).

These three forms of sugar tend to be added to foods and drinks or appear naturally in products such as honey, syrups, and fruit juices (5). One teaspoon of sugar will contain roughly 4 grams of this. The daily added sugar recommendation for women is 24 grams (6 teaspoons) and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) (5).

Table sugar is sucrose which contains fructose and glucose, which are quickly broken down by the body and spike blood sugar levels (6). Table sugar contains 50% fructose and 50% glucose (6). It also has a higher glycemic index due to its high fructose content and lack of trace minerals (6).

Read More: Is Dextrose Bad For You: The Truth About This Simple Sugar!

dextrose vs sugar
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Dextrose Vs Powdered Sugar Similarities

From the definition of the two, it is clear that dextrose and other sugars (fructose, sucrose, and lactose) have some similarities. They include:

  • Their Flavors

The one and most obvious similarity is their sweet taste. Both dextrose and these other forms of sugar are popularly used in the food industry due to their sweet flavor.

  • They Are Simple Carbohydrates

The second similarity is that both dextrose and other sugars are examples of simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are also known as simple sugars. They refer to carbs with shorter chains of molecules that are quicker to digest than complex carbs (12). Experts acknowledge that simple carbs tend to cause a spike in blood glucose, giving you a short burst of energy (12).

  • Their Intake Limits

Another similarity observed in both dextrose and other sugars is that they all have to be consumed in moderation. Remember that they are still simple carbs.

They are associated with causing blood sugar spikes and making you feel hungry pretty fast (14). The short-lived fullness people experience is associated with overeating, weight gain, and health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes (14).

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  • They Both Provide Energy

Another highly overlooked similarity between these two is that they provide your body with the energy to perform various bodily functions. As mentioned above, both dextrose and sugar are examples of carbohydrates.

As we all know, carbohydrates are our body’s primary source of energy. Since the two are examples of simple carbohydrates, they help with providing your body with energy. The good thing is that both dextrose and sugar are quickly digested. This makes your body also quickly absorb them and provide the energy you need to perform day-to-day activities on-the-go.

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Dextrose Vs Table Sugar: Which Is Healthier?

Dextrose and sugar do share some similarities. However, they also differ in various ways. The differences have led to an ongoing tug of war to determine which of the two is the healthiest. It is hard to name the most nutritive sweetener as the two have their equal share of pros and cons. Let us look at the benefits and potential risks of each of them.

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Pros And Cons Of Dextrose

Dextrose does more than satisfy your sweet tooth. In addition to being an excellent sugar alternative, dextrose also helps you reap the following health benefits:

  • Treating Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar or glucose levels result in hypoglycemia. It is not a disease but instead a health problem (1). Typically, individuals are advised to maintain their glucose or blood sugar levels above 70 milligrams per deciliter (1).

That said, this rate can vary across individuals. It’s important to note, when it lowers below 70 mg/dL, you tend to experience mild hypoglycemia symptoms. Some of these include heart palpitations, dizziness, hunger, tremor or trembling, blurred vision, confusion, shaking, sweating, rapid or irregular heartbeat (1).

If you do not treat these mild symptoms, you could develop more fatal ones, including seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, or difficulties eating or drinking (1). Doctors recommend dextrose intake to quickly treat hypoglycemia and manage these symptoms, mainly in individuals with poorly controlled diabetes (4). 

  • Providing Various Nutrients

Dextrose is the carbohydrate component of parenteral nutrition (PN). which also contains several nutrients, amino acids, and electrolytes. If you are malnourished and/or cannot eat, digest, or absorb nutrients from food, doctors may recommend getting PN through a central venous catheter (4).

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  • Treating Dehydration

Doctors also prescribe dextrose solutions to individuals who are experiencing dehydration (4). Contrary to what you may think, dehydration is fatal. If it is not treated or addressed in time, it results in deadly complications, including (13):

  • Kidney Problems. Dehydration may lead to multiple kidney complications, including kidney stones, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and ultimately kidney failure.
  • Low Blood Volume. Dehydration can lead to a lower blood count. When you have a low blood count, your blood pressure tends to drop. It also results in a reduced amount of oxygen reaching the tissues, which is unsafe.
  • Seizures. Dehydration may also result in seizures or heart arrythmias due to an imbalance of electrolytes (13). For this, doctors recommend dextrose to treat dehydration and reduce the risk of seizures and other complications.
  • Heat Injury. Dehydration may also lead to mild cramps from excessive heat, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke (13).

On the flip side, this sweetener is also linked to several health risks. These arise when you consume too much dextrose (or any other sugar), and the body is forced to store it as fat (4). This excessive consumption of dextrose can increase your risk of health conditions such as (4):

  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Acne and several skin problems
  • Weight gain
  • Low energy
  • Cardiovascular disease

Read More: What Does Sugar Do To Your Body? 16 Reasons Why Too Much Added Sugar Is Bad For You

dextrose sugar vs table sugar
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Benefits And Risks Of Sugar

Sugar is loved for its numerous benefits, especially in food technology. Below are some of the uses and benefits you reap from using sugar:

  • Increased Sweetness Flavors

The main reason why most people use sugar in their drinks or foods is its sweet taste. It is used as a sweetener in numerous food products and beverages, including coffee, baked goods like cookies and cakes. 

  • It Is An Excellent Preservative

Experts also acknowledge that sugar is used as a preservative. It acts as a humectant and helps stabilize or maintain the water content present in foods in normal ranges (10). Stabilizing the water content helps prevent or slow down the growth of yeast, moulds, and bacteria in the food. It might explain why sugar is added in foods such as jams to help with the preservation process.

Even so, there are times when consuming table or corn sugar can be dangerous to your health. As such, you are advised to regulate your sugar intake, and if possible, keep away from added sugar. This is because too much sugar consumption is linked to the following health conditions:

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  • Obesity

Majority of the US population is linked to consuming 300% more than the recommended added sugar limit (9). This increases their obesity risk as evidence shows that a diet rich in added sugar leads to obesity development (9).

  • Cardiovascular Diseases

As mentioned earlier, there is a daily sugar intake recommendation for both women and men. Women are advised they consume less than 100 calories of added sugar daily (6 teaspoons), and men consume less than 150 calories (9 teaspoons) (2). Looking at this, most people surpass this limit. The increased intake of added sugar increases their risk of metabolically based diseases such as heart disease (7).

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  • Type 2 Diabetes

Sugar does not directly result in diabetes. That said, if you consume more than the recommended sugar limit, you increase your chances of becoming overweight or obese (5). This is one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes (5).

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  • Other Health Conditions

Chronic ingestion of sugars (sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup [HFCS]) has also been linked to an increased risk of other health complications. These include cancers, nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD), cellular aging, and Alzheimer’s disease (8). Experts acknowledge that the number of children who suffer from NAFLD since 1980 has increased to 13% (8).

From the above discussion, both of these sweeteners bring various advantages and disadvantages to the table. It is possible to consume both sugar and dextrose and attain multiple health benefits. Despite that, this does not mean that they do not pose various health risks.

The risks of consuming both dextrose and sugar are serious in their capacity. This means, both of these products should be consumed in moderation. This inference still does not put an end to the numerous comparisons of dextrose vs corn sugar. 

While it is hard to state which of the two is healthier, we can, from our observation, state that you need to consume both with caution. The most beneficial one, when comparing sugar forms like glucose vs dextrose is the one posing the most negligible risks. Knowing this, it would help if you talked to a licensed nutritionist or dietitian for more insight on the two.

dextrose vs sugar
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Dextrose Vs Sugar: Which Is The Best For Weight Loss?

Weight watchers are pretty curious about the effects of these two sweeteners on weight loss. It is crucial to pick a sweetener that won’t hinder weight loss to avoid jeopardizing your weight loss efforts. Both dextrose and sugar impact weight loss differently. Take a look:

  • Dextrose

Dextrose is among the sugar alternatives that individuals consider for weight loss. You might have even seen some workout fanatics taking dextrose after their workout sessions as a supplement. This may shed light on the comparisons of dextrose vs sugar post-workout effects.

Judging from this, it is safe to say that you can consume dextrose to re-energize after a workout. However, it would help if you were cautious of how much dextrose you consume. Like any other type of sugar, when you take too much dextrose, some of it is stored in your body as fat.  

You do not get to choose where such fat will be stored. It can be stored in your lower belly, back, or arms. These are among the most sensitive areas for most people who are trying to lose weight. The more dextrose you consume, the more fat deposits you notice in any or all of these regions.

This means that dextrose will now promote weight gain instead of weight loss. Talk to a nutritionist or look for better weight loss sugar alternatives. Some common keto-friendly sugar substitutes include stevia, monk fruit, and yankon syrup (11).

  • Sugar

You will notice that most weight watchers are always on the search for sugar substitutes from the word go. It shows you that sugar is not the best sweetener to use if you are trying to drop pounds. Science agrees with this as it links sugar consumption to diseases such as obesity associated with weight gain. Again, talk to a professional for better insight on the best weight loss sweeteners.

Weight Loss According To The Age

The Bottom Line

When comparing dextrose vs sugar, which sweetener should you opt for? It is tricky answering this question, given that each of the two has its share of pros and cons. The two affect weight loss, healthy eating, and blood sugar similarly. Always talk to your nutritionist to determine which sweetener to work with depending on your goals. This approach will help you reap your intended benefits.

If you want to do even more for your body, why don’t you supplement a healthy diet with some exercise? Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. All about hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
  2. Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease (2014, healthharvard.edu)
  3. Epilepsy (2020, cdc.gov)
  4. Everything you need to know about dextrose (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
  5. How much sugar is in your food and drink? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
  6. Is honey better for you than sugar? (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
  7. Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  8. Sugar (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  9. The Dose Makes the Poison: Sugar and Obesity in the United States – a Review (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  10. The use of sugar in foods (1985, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  11. What are some of the best keto-friendly natural and artificial sweeteners? (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
  12. What to know about simple and complex carbs (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
  13. What you should know about dehydration (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
  14. What’s the Difference Between Good and Bad Carbs? (2020, webmd.com)
R. Mogeni
R. Mogeni

Rodah is a competent and skilful writer with a deep interest in nutrition and healthy living. Her speciality is writing articles that fall under the fitness and weight loss category. Her unparalleled style of writing and ability to explain difficult concepts in simple terms has made her garner much acclaim.
Her top priority is creating informative pieces that advocate for or propel individuals towards healthier lifestyles. She believes that health is wealth, which is why she chose fitness and nutrition as her area of expertise. She believes adopting such a lifestyle is easy, as long as you are consistent, hopeful, and disciplined.

K. Fleming
K. Fleming

I am a U.S. educated and trained Registered Dietitian (MS, RD, CNSC) with clinical and international development experience. I have experience conducting systematic reviews and evaluating the scientific literature both as a graduate student and later to inform my own evidence-based practice as an RD. I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia after my Peace Corps service was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some meaningful work to do as I figure out next steps. This would be my first freelance project, but I am a diligent worker and quite used to independent and self-motivated work.

Kristen Fleming, MS, RD, CNSC

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