What exactly is a sugar substitute? Sugar substitutes are food additives that duplicate the sugar in taste, but have fewer calories. Artificial sweeteners are usually synthetic, meaning not natural, although some substitutes contain natural products.
High Intensity Sweeteners
These compounds are sweeter than common table sugar, also known as sucrose. Only eight high-intensity sweet sugar substitutes are approved for use in the United States. They usually include; acesulfame potassium, aspartame, steviol glycosides, neotame, saccharin, and sucralose, advantame, Luo Han Guo fruit extracts.
The public debate continues whether artificial sweeteners, used continuously and ongoing, can lead to health risks. Many studies by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remain inconclusive about the potential harmful effects to health from artificial sweeteners.
Studies on Artificial Sweeteners
A study conducted by researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases finds artificial sweeteners do not contain significant amounts of carbohydrates. The body’s sugar regulating function simply ignores the artificial sweeteners². However, that does not mean sugar substitutes have no effect on human health.
Drs. Susan Swithers and Terry Davidson, both Psychologists at Purdue University’s Ingestive Behavior Research Center³, found that when rats ate yogurt sweetened with glucose (a simple sugar with 15 calories/teaspoon, the same as table sugar) vs. rats given yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin, later consumed more calories. The rats gained more weight, put on more body fat, and were unable to make up for the excess weight by cutting back later.
The study authors surmised that by breaking the connection between a sweet sensation and high-calorie food, the use of saccharin changes the body’s ability to regulate intake. Data suggests that consuming a food sweetened with no-calorie saccharin can lead to greater body-weight gain vs. someone consuming the same food sweetened with a higher-caloric sugar. Apparently, artificial sweeteners don’t fool your body. It expects something sweet and therefore continues to send the craving signal until it is satisfied with real sugars.
According to another research team at Princeton University, you should have a little bit of food containing real sugar (not high fructose corn syrup) when sugar cravings act up. Psychology professor Bart Hoebel indicates that high fructose will cause weight gain and obesity. The best you can do is stay away from having too much of any food that is artificially sweetened, like diet soda or food containing artificial sweeteners.
Supplements can also be an effective way of achieving weight loss without the possibly risky effects of artificial sweeteners. To find out how you can lose weight through means other than artificial sweeteners, take a look at our fat burners guide and also look at the diet tips section of our site.