South Beach Diet - Agave??

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02-20-2008, 12:16 AM
So... I recently discovered organic blue agave from Trader Joe's. I LOVE IT and I read somewhere that it was okay for SBD. I can't find the information now and want to make sure it is okay? If so, how much would you say could be used in a day? If I had my way...I would put it on everything! :D I just want to see if it is an occasional sweetener or can be used everyday? Any thoughts?

02-20-2008, 06:55 AM
Agave nectar is just fine, but I wouldn't advise using it until Phase 2, since it's made from the juice of the agave, and considered a fruit. You can use it freely, but be careful, because it does contain calories, 60 calories in a tablespoon.

02-20-2008, 08:42 AM
I've heard about agave nectar a lot--do you use it in place of sugar? Is it thin like juice or thicker like honey? Do you use it in the same amounts as other sweeteners, teaspoon for teaspoon?

Sorry for all the questions--can you tell it's something I'm interested in? ;)

02-20-2008, 09:11 AM
Agave nectar is similar to honey in both consistency and taste. You can use it as a sugar substitute, or whenever honey is called for in a recipe. It is a bit sweeter than sugar, so I would use about half as much as I would sugar. It's very low on the glycemic index, making it an excellent sweetener for diabetics.

If you google "agave nectar", you'll find a lot of information about it.

02-20-2008, 09:44 AM
Isn't that what's used to make tequila?

Shots all around!

02-20-2008, 09:49 AM
If you google "agave nectar", you'll find a lot of information about it.
ha, I always get so frustrated when others don't take 30 seconds to Google something for themselves, and here I am doing the same thing :dizzy:

Thanks for the info--i've been using sf maple syrup in place of honey in recipes, but it would be nice to find something that doesn't give that slightly maple-y flavor to everything.

02-20-2008, 10:27 AM
Jilly, that's a good point! I haven't tried the agave in recipes yet. Cottage, have you? Does it heat well? :?: I wonder if it might also give a slight caramelization to baked goods? :chin:

I like agave nectar, but (perhaps after three years of using super-sweet sugar substitutes?) I don't think it's very sweet. I'd feel that I'd have to use about three times as much agave nectar as Splenda to get the same sweetness level. :shrug: But I'm game to try it with the same amount and see how things turn out...

BTW, yes, agave cactus is the one used for making tequila. And Mezcal (, too. :faint: (I spent a summer in Oaxaca, where the general consensus is that you "have one mezcal to ease your pain, and a second mezcal to take away the pain of the first.") :lol3:

02-20-2008, 07:15 PM
I thought I'd chime in as an agave nectar fan, since I've tried using it in cooking too. At Thanksgiving, I made my sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie with it. I've also done apple crisp and the oatmeal breakfast bars. So far, everything's turned out really well. I didn't measure any of those things though, just put a hefty squeeze in there. It did help the crisp topping crisp up nicely.

02-21-2008, 02:56 PM
I guess, since agave nectar is kind of expensive and also has calories I would stick with Splenda. It has zero calories and you can use it for baking.
Splenda is also okay for use in Phase 1.

There are some excellent cookbooks out there that use Splenda. If you need the carmelizing properties of sugar but not use sugar then I would use the agave nectar but 60 calories, that is almost as much as white sugar! Yikes!

02-21-2008, 05:46 PM
pamatga, I agree that the no-calorie-ness of Splenda makes it very appealing. However, I find that Splenda gives baked items (and even some non-baked foods) a weird aftertaste. I didn't dislike it during my first six months on South Beach, but after some time away .... it's become a major ick factor.

Agave blends really nicely into whatever you're cooking, and while you do have to figure in the calories, it has little to none of the unhealthy attributes of white sugar. It might be a great substitute for chicks that don't like Splenda. I also like stevia for sweetening teas and coffee, but I'm not sure how it bakes.

02-21-2008, 07:43 PM
If you need the carmelizing properties of sugar but not use sugar then I would use the agave nectar but 60 calories, that is almost as much as white sugar! Yikes!
But it's not only about the calories for everyone. Personally, I'd like to have a natural alternative to Splenda (or other artificial sweeteners). I do use Splenda, but it makes me nervous. I don't like the idea of eating chlorine, no matter how much "they" say it doesn't get absorbed into the body. I'm not saying I'm one of those people who thinks all artificial sweeteners are evil, but if there's something non-chemical I can use sometimes that is still healthier than white sugar, I would like to :) Having been a calorie counter for a long time, I know all too well how to cram Little Debbies and Butterfingers into my daily calorie allowance--I don't think agave nectar is going to kill my diet ;)

02-25-2008, 08:01 PM

Day 7, Phase 2
-2 lbs If I can figure out how to use the profile thing, I'll change mine :)

I know I have been missing in Action, but " I'mmmmmm baaaack" :)

I work as a nurse and sometimes days are just more hectic than others, and that is my only excuse for not being on board last week. I have been pretty strict with my first week. I did have some Nutra sweet candy , a pecan caramel Easter egg. No sugar but the fat grams were out of sight!

With all the discussion of Agave nectar, I'm gonna have to find some to try. I have SF imitation Honey by Honey Tree that I have been using . It does have Maxitol in it, so one does not over dose on it. Its pretty good on my 12 grain, 6 grams of fiber toast in the morning . I have only used it once these past 3 weeks, I haven't quite figured out where it fits in the SB plan.

Ready with a plan for tomorrow.


02-27-2008, 12:37 PM
according to the chef Marilyn Koch who authored the cookbook "Desserts with Splenda" is that Splenda is not an artificial sweetner. It is a derivative of regular white sugar but it is altered chemically in processing. That is why it doesn't have a bitter aftertaste and why you can use it in baking like regular white sugar.

I have not tried Agave nectar yet. As I have removed added sugar from everything I eat I now notice how much I can tell how anything with sugar really almost makes me salivate after I have eaten it. I may at a later date and then I guess I can share what I think about it. I like the idea of the no or low calories since I am also needing to trim calories since I am still dealing with overeating (yes even healthy foods!).

A calorie is still a calorie and until I have a good handle on portion control and not overeating, I still have to keep a sideways glance at what is contributing to my weight lose plan. I wish I could say I eat always "normally" but I don't. One reason why I am restarting Phase 1. I identified that yes calories do "count" even if you aren't counting them (as in SBD is not a calorie restricted diet). The assumption behind the SBD philosophy is to develop healthy eating habits over a long period of time and to exercise normal portion control.

My comments, Jilly, were in no way a reflection on what you are choosing at this point. I was simply stating that I feel that at what the calories are in agave nectar that someone like myself might (and probably would) find it hard to stop at what it is considered "a normal portion or serving". I am sure I will try it. I have everything else that has come up on this board so I will let you know what it does to my body. As a person also concerned about developing diabetes, I wonder how agave affects a person's blood sugar levels too. Any one know?

We are all here to learn from each other. I know I am. Thanks for your feedback on this issue. ;)

02-27-2008, 02:28 PM
pamatga, FWIW, agave nectar is touted as a low glycemic natural sweetener, which is why some of us on this board are comfortable with using it. It has a glycemic value of 27, as opposed to sucrose at 92. It's glycemic load is about 1.6. So the impact on blood sugar levels should not be as drastic as other sugars. It is very good, reminiscent of honey to me, but I like it better than honey. I use it on my yogurt in the evenings and occasionally in cooking, and I find that it doesn't affect me the way sugar does, in that when I start eating something sweet, I just keep on wanting to eat more and more. I am satisfied with my yogurt and don't ever go back for more.

02-27-2008, 05:32 PM
according to the chef Marilyn Koch who authored the cookbook "Desserts with Splenda" is that Splenda is not an artificial sweetner. It is a derivative of regular white sugar but it is altered chemically in processing.
I guess I don't see how something that is alterred chemically is not artificial--isn't that sort of the definition of artificial? It certainly isn't natural--they even say that on the Splenda website. It's sucrose in the beginning, but once it leaves the factory, it's got chlorine where the hydrogen-oxygen used to be. I guess we just view "artificial" differently :^:

Re-reading what I wrote above, it sounds argumentative, but I swear I'm not trying to be argumentative--I'm actually very back-and-forth on the natural sweetener vs. Splenda issue myself, so I have days where I am anti-Splenda and days where it is my savior :dizzy:

On a different note, I notice on the Splenda website that it keeps referring to Splenda as a "non-caloric" sweetener, that it has no calories, But doesn't it actually have 4 calories per serving? I know that by FDA regulation, anything with fewer than 5 calories per serving can say it has 0, but their site just keeps saying that since Splenda isn't metabolized by the body, it has no calories. Does anyone know if, even though it DOES have calories, if those calories are not metabolized by the body, so they don't "count"?

I know this is an agave thread, not Splenda, but I was just wondering if anyone knew :)

02-27-2008, 06:48 PM
I think Splenda is 50 calories per cup so I only count the calories when baking.

02-28-2008, 06:59 PM
I was just saying that I haven't tried Agave and I would like to know how that is metabolized by people who are trying to avoid all natural sweetners. Maybe some of the folks over on the Sugarbusters forum could step up to the plate on this one.

We just may be comparing apples and oranges here, ladies.

I just checked my box of Splenda and it says 0 everything right down the line for the individual packets which I use on occasion when I make my "sweet" tea (hey this is the South).

I have used it for baking but that box is long gone so I can't answer about that. I avoid baking because I have emotional eating issues I am also trying to resolve. If it ain't around, you can't sniff it, snort it, inhale it, drink it or eat it!!

Sugar is a trigger for me and when I get more information I will see what agave does to me. If you find out before I do, pass it around. I am sure there are other inquiring minds that want to know......

Thanks Barb and Jilly for the input on this "hot topic"...

Agave or bust......;)

02-29-2008, 12:35 AM
One note of caution about the Agave nectar is that its glycemic load does vary depending upon the food that it is consumed with. This is questionable as I do not see a good resource to reference but here is the quote:

Fructose has a low glycemic value. However, according to some experts, if fructose is consumed after eating a large meal that overly raises the blood sugar or with high glycemic foods, it no longer has a low glycemic value. Strangely enough, it will take on the value of the higher glycemic food. So exercise restraint, even with this wonderful sweetener. It is a good policy to eat fructose-based desserts on an empty stomach, in between meals or with other low-glycemic foods. Use it for an occasional treat or for a light touch of sweetness in your dishes.

Personally, the wonderful thing about the SB way of life is the flexibility that we are allowed as individuals to discover what works for us as individuals. Everything we eat has calories, carbs, proteins,..., etc. It is up to us to decide what works best with our way of eating. I love Agave, and I have found that if I consume too much, I simply don't loose weight. But I do feel better about eating Agave than a dozen packets of Splenda. But Splenda doesn't stall me, or give me cravings. I encourage you to try new things and foods, and see how your body reacts.

02-29-2008, 06:48 AM
I just checked my box of Splenda and it says 0 everything right down the line for the individual packets which I use on occasion when I make my "sweet" tea (hey this is the South).

heh, yeah, the FDA allows manufacturers to round down calories that are 5 or less to 0 (and fat that is less than .5g to 0, which sucks in the case of trans fats, but those aren't in Splenda). So if something has 4 calories per serving, it can say 0 on the box. And something that has partially hydrogenated vegetable oil listed as an ingredient can say it has no trans fats. grr...

But anyway...thanks for the info, TechGirl. From what you posted, it says the agave can take on the index of a higher GI food, but hopefully, on South Beach, we aren't eating high GI foods for it to take on! At least, that's the idea, right? :dizzy: But it is good to know in case someone is having a treat and thinks it's okay to have something with high GI ingredients as long as it's made with agave to sort of "balance it out," as that is apparently not the case.