Artificial Sweeteners: Pretty Sweet Diet Tool

Are zero calorie sweeteners actually making us eat more? We recently reported that artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain.  However, a new study is contradicting that finding. According to a small study conducted at the University of Florida, choosing a zero calorie sweetener over sugar may not lead to caloric compensation later in the day.

In this study, those who were given either stevia or aspartame prior to breakfast ate the same amount of food (over an entire day) as those who were given sugar. Well, with one exception: the amount of sugar.  Therefore, the researchers concluded that having either stevia or aspartame in lieu of sugar does not lead to calorie compensation throughout the day, and in fact eating sugar means, quite simply, eating more calories.  Also of note, both hunger and satiety levels did not differ among any of the groups, meaning that the zero calorie sweeteners did not cause increased hunger between meals.

This study was very small, with only 31 participants, so bigger studies are necessary before general recommendations can be made.  Also, this study was extremely well controlled; all meals were given out and consumed at the research facility.  The same results may not be noted in a free eating environment.

While this is encouraging evidence that zero calorie sweeteners may be a good weight loss tool, there is a physiological basis for the argument that artificial sweeteners lead to increased cravings for sweets over time, which in turn leads to weight gain.

Considering that added sugars in the average American’s diet can lead to a weight gain of 30 lbs. a year, these artificial sweeteners seem to be a better alternative to sugar. But maybe we should all play it safe and train our taste buds away from sweets and start drinking that morning coffee black.

3 Comments

  • What an insightful study! As a registered dietitian and consultant for food and beverage companies, I agree that zero calorie sweeteners can be an effective dietary management tool for individuals looking to lose weight and/or control their blood sugar levels. I often counsel my clients on how when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits, such as portion moderation and physical activity, consuming products that contain zero calorie sweeteners can help achieve more positive health outcomes. For example, being able to successfully manage their weight or keep blood sugars levels within an ideal range. I find that my clients are encouraged by these positives health outcomes and that sense of accomplishment filters into other aspects of their lives.

  • @ linZjoeRD: What a shock, a consultant for food/beverage companies pushing fake sugar.

    If we eat real food instead of the processed “stuff” marketed to us; eating mostly vegetables, fruits and whole grains; the weight loss will happen and your taste buds will adapt to your new diet and you will enjoy & appreciate real food. And you’ll suddenly find that the “food” linZjoeRD pushes in order to line corporate pocketbooks actually is distasteful, unappealing over-sweetened, over-fatty glops of processed chemicals.

    The change in your taste buds will take time. Go slow, be patient with yourself, but weed out the processed foods and you will enjoy food much more.

  • Not sure about the latest one (name starts with an ‘S’), but particularly the ‘blue’ and the ‘yellow’ packaged ones give me a major migraine. Know of nothing else that does this.

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