I get it, sugar is bad, but are you really doing yourself any favors when you use artificial sweeteners? These zero calorie substitutes are sweeters than normal sugar, obviously they have no calories or little calories, and it seems pretty appealing. Diabetics are often told that they should use things like Stevia to avoid the problems often associated with too much sugar, especially when you have diabetes.
The truth is that even if you don’t specifically look for them,
they are in everything. Drinks, snacks and desserts. Start reading food labels and you’ll be surprised how integrated into our food supply they are, according to Dr. Mike Roussell PhD, nutritionist and author who is also an adviser to Men’s Health Magazine.
Unfortunately, there are some studies indicating that artificial sweeteners may actually cause you to gain weight, and there are some potentially nasty health consequences that you may never have imagined.
Artificial sweeteners have unlocked a $1 billion market annually in the US alone. People love the idea of more sugar without the actual sugar or the calories that we blame for making us fat. On one side, yes, we crave sweets, and this fulfills our desire for sweets. During our hunter gatherer days, we needed the calories, and our bodies translated that taste to giving us the sweetness we needed.
Unfortunately, some researchers say that your body doesn’t understand the difference. When you eat artificial sweeteners, they say that you are retraining your body to think that all sweet things must have few or no calories, which ultimately leads you to eat more later on and gain weight.
Others say that it’s more insidious. According to some researchers,
Sucralose, aka Splenda, may alter and inhibit metabolism and interfere with the body’s absorption of certain medications.
The average American today eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar per day according to the 2005 and 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The American Heart Association guidelines believe this is far more than you should be eating. They recommend a mere 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men.
Sugar has been connected to everything from heart disease to diabetes depending on who you talk to. There are some studies that have even shown sugar to have addictive qualities. Our bodies ultimately have the same addictive type reaction to the
calorie free alternatives. The difference is that replacements may not be as chemically simple for the body to process, causing complications with weight, and some would even say with serious diseases like cancer.
There are so many different kinds of zero or low calorie sweeteners. They are created from a variety of things. Some are plant derived, like stevia, some are sugar alcohols, like xylitol and some are modified sugar molecules, like Splenda. They all have their own unique sweetness and taste.
There are studies indicating that artificial sweeteners could harm the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can be scary in and of itself. New studies indicate more essential roles for the beneficial bacteria in your gut every day, lifesaving differences even.
However, when it comes to weight, they suggest that
Artificial sweeteners are a crutch that don’t force people to deal with deeper issues of regulating calorie intake. So in other words, it feeds our desire to not be honest with ourselves about exactly how many calories we are actually taking in at any given time.
Julieanna Hever, dietitian and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition says,
Artificial sweeteners are designed specifically to be exceedingly sweet, upwards of hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than table sugar. Because of this, taste buds acclimate to a heightened threshold of sweetness, perpetuating sugar cravings, and making it exceedingly challenging to overcome sugar addiction.
So do you want to lose weight? Chances are you should skip out on more sugar and practice more self control. If you can practice more control instead of trying to substitute in ways to cheat like artificial sweeteners, then you will see true health and weight loss improvements.