The Relationship Between Artificial Sweeteners & Weightloss

artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are attractive alternatives to sugar because they add no calories to the diet.  Well, they add no calories to the diet at the time they are being ingested.  What goes on days, weeks, and months following artificial sweetener consumption (or addiction) though? Can extra calories be packed on then?

If you’re drinking zero calorie, artificially sweetened drinks everyday, sure calories aren’t coming from those diet cokes, but how are those diet cokes influencing other eating/drinking decisions you make? How are they affecting your brain? Are they giving you any nutritional benefit whatsoever?

Typically found in products marked “sugar-free” or “diet___,” the following are the most commonly used artificial sweeteners:

  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) 
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Saccharin (Sweet & Low)
  • Acesulfame potassium (Sweet One, Sunnett)

If weightloss is your goal, maybe think twice next time you go for one of these…

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola,  research has repeatedly shown that “no cal” or “low cal” sweeteners are anything but good for weight loss.  Instead, studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can

  • stimulate appetite
  • increase carb cravings
  • stimulate fat storage & weight gain

According to Ryan Andrews, these artificial sweeteners stimulate overeating by enhancing appetite and/or disrupting learned associations between sweet taste & caloric density of food.  We get used to the extra sweet tastes (NOTE: aspartame exceeds table sugar sweetness by 200 times!). This is why & how diet sodas and other artificially sweetened foods & beverages can deter us from the enjoyment of unprocessed, natural foods.  

If your goal is to better your diet and/or change your lifestyle and nutrition habits, your best bet is to always go for all natural foods.  That would be fresh fruits, vegetables, and natural sugars.  Eliminate the processed junk.  When choosing food & drinks, think about if that food or drink actually will do something to improve your health.  Although it hasn’t been “proven” that diet sodas or other artificially sweetened foods are the final blow to one’s health status, we do know that it’s not going to do much to improve our health.  With that being said, it’s probably not the best idea & there are plenty of healthier options out there for you to choose from.

So rather than spending your money on artificially sweetened foods and drinks, spend it on quality foods and drinks.  Your body will thank you!

References:

“All About Diet Soda’s”  by Ryan Andrews via Precision Nutrition

“Artificial Sweeteners Cause Greater Weight Gain than Sugars, Yet Another Study Reveals” by Dr. Joseph Mercola

” Artificial Sweeteners & Other Sugar Substitutes” Mayo Clinic

Quote of the Month

Habits

“First we form habits, then they form us. ” – Rob Gilbert

It’s been said that it takes 21 days to form a habit.

The human brain is a highly adaptive piece of machinery.  If you repeat a habit often enough, certain synaptic pathways will get programmed into your brain.  Since this stuff IS being programmed in our brains, it’s important to be sure that we are forming positive habits that are going to benefit us both now & later on down the road, rather than bad ones that will lead us further and further away from our goals.

Personally, when I hear this quote, I relate it directly to diet & exercise although it could easily be related to any situation.  Positive exercise and nutrition related habits we pick up, form us, just as negative exercise & nutrition related habits form us.  These habits can form us physically (our appearance), as well as mentally (how we think).

So how do we become successful at forming habits so that they can form us for the better?

I’d suggest choosing 1 positive habit you’d like to change or 1 positive habit you’d like to instill.  Don’t try to overload yourself with trying to change everything at once (unless you KNOW you are one of those persons who has no problem doing this).  For most people, focusing on 1 thing at a time will tend to work & actually end up sticking long-term.

So there’s your challenge.  Choose 1 bad habit that you want to/need to change (that you feel is stopping you from  reaching your fitness goals) and start applying it today.  This could be getting to the gym 5 times a week versus 4.  It could be completely cutting out the 1 or 2 sodas you drink each day and replacing them with water or tea.  Whatever it is, make sure it is very specific and easily defined.  No gray areas allowed.

You’re only 21 days away from a new, positive habit that’s going to put you closer to your goals.  Get after it! : )