Sugar free breads typically fit into two categories: those using alternative sweeteners and those without added sweeteners. Sourdough breads and unleavened breads made without sweeteners can be purchased at stores or made at home. Breads can also be created with sugar alternatives including diastatic malt, natural sweeteners such as molasses, or commercial sugar substitutes.
Many sugar free breads can be found in mainstream grocery stores or they can easily be made at home. Of the types of sugar free breads found at the grocery store, many are alternatives not necessarily associated with the bread aisle, such as tortillas, lavash, naan, or pita. These are considered unleavened breads, made primarily of flour and water with no added sweeteners. They are also easily made at home with minimal ingredients.
Other sugar free breads found at the grocery store can include artisan breads such as sourdough that use a long fermentation period rather than added yeasts and sugars. These, like all breads, do contain the starches that will turn into sugar when digested. The third type of sugar free breads are those specifically manufactured and marketed as such.
Over the years, manufactured bread has incorporated a greater amount of sugar. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that one slice of white or wheat bread can contain up to 3 grams of sugar. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a food can only be labeled "sugar free" if it contains less than 0.5 g of sugar per serving and is completely free of ingredients commonly understood to be a sugar. Consumers can read the product's ingredients label to discern if sweeteners were added. If the label contains any type of added sugar, including corn sugar, corn syrup, or brown sugar, then the product is not sugar free.
Sugar free breads can be easily made at home, either creating doughs with no added sweeteners and longer fermentation periods, known as slow breads, or by using artificial or alternative sweeteners in the bread recipe. One such alternative to sugar, long used by bread makers, is diastatic malt. Diastatic malt is created from sprouted barley or wheat, and can be found in specialty stores, labeled as barely malt, or made at home with a sprouting jar. This natural sweetener breaks down the starches in dough and feeds the natural yeast so no sugars need to be added. Other sugar substitutes used in baking include brown rice syrup, date sugar, natural fruit juices, honey, agave nectar, molasses, and sugar substitutes such as Truvia™ or Splenda®.