Here’s a frightening fact: a University of Texas-San Antonio study discovered that increased consumption of artificially sweetened diet soda can lead to obesity. According to Sharon Fowler, MPH, a faculty associate in clinical epidemiology, “on average, for each diet soft drink our participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years and 41 percent more likely to become obese.”
The harsh reality that for a long time the chemical sweetener industry did not want you to know is that artificial sweeteners like Splenda, NutraSweet, Sunette, and Sweet ‘N Low may have serious health consequences, one of them being that they can cause you to gain weight despite the fact that they are marketed as food products that can help you lose weight.
Artificial sweeteners can lead you to gain weight in a variety of ways. For example, the consumption of artificial sweeteners can prompt you to just eat more. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity documents how when researchers fed a liquid sweetened with real sugar to one group of rats and then fed a liquid mixed with artificial sweeteners to another group, the rats that consumed the artificial sweetener ate more. One of the reasons why it is believed that artificial sweeteners ironically lead you to eat more is because they act as a kind of short circuit in your brain, thus preventing your body from sensing how much it has eaten, so you just keep eating. It is also thought that when people consume diet products like Splenda, for example, you feel subconsciously entitled to overeat. The mentality is simple, “I’m already being good by not consuming real sugar, let me have one more cookie.” No! This is not true! You will not only gain weight, but you are potentially harming your body.
Here’s the breakdown: Splenda contains sucralose, NutraSweet has aspartame, Sunette is all about acesulfame K, and Sweet ‘N Low is saccharin. So far, the Center For Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) included aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame K in their “avoid” list of food additives due to the health risks associated with these artificial sweeteners that have been unveiled over time. Just to give you an idea, aspartame (NutraSweet) has been linked to tumors. Sucralose (Splenda) contains chlorine atoms, and yes that is the same chemical used to kill microorganisms in swimming pools! These chlorine atoms can kill off the gut flora lining your intestines, which is obviously not good for you at all.
So if artificial sweeteners are not a good alternative and sugar isn’t either, what is? My recommendation: zero or low-calorie sweeteners like Truvia, Z-Sweet, and Sun Crystals. These sweeteners are made with natural sources like erythritol and stevia. Erythritol is an all-natural product, with zero calories, no glycemic impact, it’s found in many fruits and vegetables, and most importantly it’s recognized as safe by the FDA. Sun Crystals are a mixture of erythritol and raw cane sugar, so not zero-calorie, but it will still be a lower calorie intake than real sugar. And Truvia is a mix between erythritol and stevia, which is a natural sweetener derived from a leaf. Stevia is also sold in products like PureVia and SweetLeaf.
Regardless of whether you are consuming healthy natural sweeteners or sugar, the most important thing to keep in mind is to use them with caution. Train your body and your brain that is doesn’t need too many sweets in order to be satisfied.