WHAT IS ONE SERVING?
For Sugar Alternatives
If you're wondering, Why is serving size important when looking at a sweetener label?, keep scrolling down. For those that are puzzled why sometimes a sweetener serving means "as sweet as 1 teaspoon of sugar" and other times, it means "as sweet as 2 teaspoons", I'll explain.
Navigating the realm of sugar alternatives can be a perplexing journey, especially when it comes to deciphering what exactly constitutes "one serving." The concept of a serving size for sweeteners is intricately tied to the product's sweetness and it is a crucial metric declared on the Nutrition Facts label as per legal requirements.
Find below the nuances of understanding these serving sizes, shedding light on how they are determined by manufacturers and why they matter. From the equivalency in sweetness to table sugar to the variations in recommended serving amounts, let's demystify the often ambiguous nature of these measurements, helping you see the implications on cost and your nutritional tracking efforts.
A serving size for sweeteners is an amount recommended by the manufacturer and is based on the product's sweetness. You will find it declared on the Nutrition Facts label.
By law, a serving reflects the amount customarily consumed per eating occasion (reference amount). For sugar substitutes, it is defined as the "amount equivalent in sweetness to one reference amount for table sugar".
Manufacturers are required to convert this reference amount in a familiar unit such as teaspoon (tsp), followed by the number of grams (g). Examples: _tsp (_g) for solids; _drops _squeezes (_g) for liquid; _piece (_g) for individual packets, cubes or tablets.
Because manufacturers have to compare their product with table sugar, you might ask: what is the amount customarily consumed for table sugar? Most manufacturers consider 1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar. However, it varies. Here are some examples where a serving may be the amount equivalent in sweetness to one and a half or four to five tsp of sugar or even a tablespoon (equal 3 tsp) of sugar.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHAT "ONE SERVING" IS?
As said before, in most products, one serving is the amount—in a teaspoon, packet, stick, drop, squeeze—of sweetener with sweetness equivalent to 1 or 2 tsp of sugar. But you will need a conversion chart [or my Sweetener Calculator™] to know how a serving compares to teaspoons of sugar for the product you have in your hands. It is not always clear, and I had to contact many manufacturers to figure that out.
Why is that important? Let's draw a comparison between Truvía and Whole Earth sweeteners shown in the image below:
1) Both sweeteners are made up of 99% erythritol and offer the same amount of product (9.8 ounces in a jar).
2) The serving size of Truvía is 3/4 teaspoons, but Whole Earth is 1/2 teaspoon.
3) Truvía offers a total of 80 servings and is about half the cost of Whole Earth, with 140 servings, which means that at first glance, you'd think that there's not much difference in terms of the cost you pay.
4) In terms of the equivalent sweetness level, Truvía offers more, with 160 tsp of sugar/container versus 140 for Whole Earth.
5) So, for half the cost, you actually get a more concentrated sweetener from Truvía.
6) In terms of calories, one serving of Truvía provides 3.6 cal, but Whole Earth offers 2.4.
All that to say, if you are tracking nutrients and want to save, keep in mind: (1) all nutrition information you see on the label is based on one serving; (2) the size of the serving influences the cost, number of calories, and all the nutrient amounts listed. You will need to adjust accordingly if you measure cups (one cup has about 48 teaspoons).
TAKEAWAY: It becomes evident that the difference in defining a serving could have significant ramifications, influencing not only the perceived sweetness of the product but also the overall nutritional intake and cost.