Hey Angels and Alphas,
A common weight loss trick many people know about is swapping sugar for Splenda in your morning cup of coffee. After all, when you eat less sugar and fewer calories, this is pretty much a tried-and-true strategy to reducing your overall intake and gradually shedding pounds, right?
But are artificial sweeteners actually healthy for you?
Artificial sweeteners, or by their other name, non-nutritive sweeteners, are basically no-calorie or low-calorie sugar substitutes including aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), acesulfame-k (Sweet One), stevia (Truvia), among others, have been deemed safe for use by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration.)
And since the average American consumed about 16-17 teaspoons of added sugar every single day (which is more than the recommended 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men,) the AHA (American Heart Association) suggests that opting for artificially-sweetened snacks or even diet sodas can help you satisfy any sugar cravings you might have while still giving you the option to lose weight and keep your blood sugar levels in check.
But recently, artificial sweeteners have been getting a horrible rap. Largely due to emerging research that suggests that they’re not an easy fix for weight loss, but on the contrary – they could be causing weight gain, among other health problems.
That’s why today, we’re taking a look at the whole equation – the good, and the bad, and the ugly when it comes to artificial sweeteners and their place in our diets.
Do artificial sweeteners help or prevent weight loss?
Why you might want to avoid them…
Many experts believe that it’s generally a good idea to avoid artificial sweeteners. While more research is needed for a conclusion on this topic, studies right now suggest that artificial sweeteners can mess with your gut microbiome, or in other words, the balance between good and bad microorganisms in your GI tract.
This, in turn, leads to problems with your metabolism, glucose intolerance, and further health issues such as weight gain or Type-2 diabetes. Overall, the majority of experts suggest that you’re much better off consuming natural sources of sweetness, such as fresh fruits.
Other experts believe that you don’t necessarily have to avoid them…
Some experts believe that artificial sweeteners can definitely become a part of a healthy and balanced diet. If you’re someone trying to combat metabolic syndrome, heart disease, obesity, or diabetes, they can help you reduce the amount of added sugars you consume simply by replacing them with artificial sweeteners – or at least, this can be a step in the right direction.
If you’re trying to lose weight or you’re living with diabetes…
Then swapping sugary snacks and drinks for ones that are artificially sweetened can help you manage blood sugar better and cut a significant amount of calories. That being said, if you have an inflammatory bowel disease such as colitis or Crohn’s disease, you’d be much better off limiting non-nutritive sweeteners because research shows us they can increase gut inflammation and cramping (but only in people with those diseases.)
What does this mean for you?
Many people believe that just because they’re eating ice cream, “diet” cookies or “diet” cokes, that they’re somehow justified to have more of them, or that somehow this means they can eat all they want and still lose weight.
For this reason, artificial sweeteners can possibly lead you to gain even more weight and overeating. And even worse, artificial sweeteners such as saccharin are extremely sweet (saccharin is like, what, 500 times sweeter than table sugar?) and this means they can demolish your satisfaction of foods that are naturally sweet such as beets and carrots… and leave you craving more sugar than before.
Over time, these extra calories can then add up and play a massive toll on your weight loss efforts.
If you are eating or drinking too many sugary foods and drinks, you can make the switch to artificially-sweetened alternatives and see how they make you feel. See if they help you manage your weight better – or lose weight faster. But when it comes down to it, research shows that artificial sugars could further increase your appetite because your brain doesn’t really register them as filling and satisfying.
The bottom line is…
Most of the research out there simply does not support the claim that artificial sweeteners cause more weight gain. Most research shows that they can help you eat less and maybe even facilitate better weight loss results.
Because ultimately, it depends on how you choose to use them. If you decide to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners and you don’t go the extra mile to compensate for the reduction by eating more, then sure, you will lose weight.
But if you want to reprogram yourself to prefer foods that are less sweet (or to reduce your sugar cravings), artificial sweeteners can make this difficult for you since they’re so, so sweet.