If asked why they use artificial sweeteners, most people who regularly use artificial sweeteners would most likely site weight loss and diet goals as their primary reasons for choosing those brightly coloured packets of aspartame, saccharin, neotame, and sucralose.
But what many dieters would be shocked and appalled to know is that, those sweet tasting sugar substitutes are ultimately sabotaging their goals for a trim figure.
Artificial sweeteners cause obesity
While it may seem counter-intuitive that something with zero calories can ultimately cause people to pack on the pounds, research continues to show that these sweet substitutes are not all they are marketed to be. In fact, the mass inclusion of artificial sweeteners in mainstream diets correlates highly with the rise of the obesity epidemic.
Read on to find out the not so sweet truth about what artificial sweeteners are really doing to your waistline!
The Promise of Artificial Sweeteners: A Sweet Lie
The promise of artificial sweeteners is simple and alluring enough to attract anyone wishing to lose a few pounds: enjoy all the sweet taste you want with none of the guilt, calories, or consequences.
Each year brands like Equal, Splenda, Sweet n Low and more pour millions of dollars into their advertising campaigns to convince health conscious consumers that they are doing their waistlines a favor by cutting out sugar in favor of artificial sweeteners.
While cutting out sugar is indeed essential for both health and healthy weight levels, artificial sweeteners are simply NOT the answer they are touted to be.
The Reality of Artificial Sweeteners: What Artificial Sweeteners Really Do
While artificial sweeteners themselves may not contain any calories, they still cause weight gain and obesity for a variety of reasons. Multiple studies have shown that the inclusion of artificial sweeteners in the diet is correlated with weight gain, not weight loss or even maintenance of a healthy weight level.
One long term study out of the University of Texas at San Antonio showed that over the course of eight years participants who drank as little as one artificially sweetened soda per day were over sixty percent more likely to be overweight than the participants who consumed no diet sodas during the same time period.
Take a look at some of the key reasons experts believe artificial sweeteners are so detrimental to weight loss goals.
Artificial Sweeteners Play Mind Games
At a very basic level, artificial sweeteners cause overeating by playing mind games. All too often people’s perceptions are swayed by including a food item with an artificial sweetener in their meals.
Television shows and comedians often mock the customer who orders a large burger and large fries with a diet coke on the side, but the sad reality is that there is much truth in this joke.
It is easy to justify that a calorie free drink (or any other food item) entitles one to overindulge on other items, making that meal end up being more calories than you would have otherwise had without the presence of the diet drink.
Artificial Sweeteners Disrupt Gut Bacteria
Beyond playing mind games on people, artificial sweeteners are doing actual physical harm to our bodies that leads to weight gain and obesity. One such problem is that they alter the bacterial balance in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Research is continually revealing the immense importance of having plenty of good bacteria, or probiotics, in the gut. Healthy, beneficial bacteria affects everything from the immune system to moods as well as weight levels. Artificial sweeteners throw off the delicate bacterial balance in the gut, which in turn promotes excess fat storage.
Artificial Sweeteners Disrupt Brain Chemistry
The effects of artificial sweeteners are not limited to the GI tract alone. In fact, studies have shown that artificial sweeteners also have a negative effect on brain chemistry.
Researchers at Purdue University have shown a link between consuming artificial sweeteners and a disruption in brain chemistry that leads the brains to send out more hunger signals, leading to overeating. The natural signals that your brain sends the stomach to let you know you are full are disrupted and it then becomes almost impossible to detect when you have truly had enough to eat.
Consuming extra calories day after day quickly leads to excess pounds.
Artificial Sweeteners Reset Taste Buds
Depending on the formulation, artificial sweeteners are anywhere from 200 times to an astounding 8000 times sweeter than actual sugar. As taste buds quickly become accustomed to the super sweet taste provided by artificial sweeteners, it becomes virtually impossible for people to fully detect and appreciate the sweetness in naturally sweetened foods.Reaching a point of satiety becomes very challenging.
The natural sweetness given to fruits by its own fructose no longer tastes as sweet as nature intended. Even the taste of sugar sweetened treats and desserts is no longer perceived as being as sweet as it truly is.
The end result of the altered perception of these taste buds influenced by artificial sweeteners is a need for more and more sweet foods to satisfy cravings, which leads to overeating and weight gain. Often times, the result is consuming both more artificial sweeteners as well as more sugary foods just to meet the intense cravings for that next sweet fix people experience as a result of their taste buds being skewed.
Artificial Sweeteners Interfere with Proper Hormonal Balance
Yet another way that artificial sweeteners lead to unwanted weight gain is through the influence they have on hormonal balance. As a matter of fact, one of the first solutions many holistic doctors suggest to restore hormonal balance is to eliminate artificial sweeteners.
Certain hormones are released when people eat sugar, but these hormones are not released when artificial sweeteners are consumed. The result is then when real sugar is consumed, the body is confused and hormonal balance is thrown off kilter.
Among other important functions, proper hormonal balance influence weight gain as well as food cravings meaning that out of whack hormones often equates to the numbers on the scale rising rapidly.
The Alternative to Artificial Sweeteners
With so much research continually revealing that artificial sweeteners are sabotaging weight loss goals by causing overeating and obesity, the question then becomes what should the health-minded consumer do?
Adding sugar back into the diet carries with it tremendous risks for both health and weight loss goals, making adding in more table sugar an unacceptable answer. Instead, use these simple tips to rid your diet of harmful artificial sweeteners and move towards a healthier life.
Pay attention to labels to avoid artificial sweeteners sneaking into your diet
The first step to successfully battling weight gain from artificial sweeteners is to know your enemy. While many people may know that options like diet drinks are filled with artificial sweeteners, a closer examination of the ingredients in many popular, seemingly “healthy” foods often reveals they also contain artificial sweeteners.
Some common, but possibly unexpected, culprits include yoghurt, cereal, energy/protein bars and even things like chewable gummies.
Pay attention to labels to avoid artificial sweeteners sneaking into your diet and leaving you with disastrous results. Or, better yet, avoid packaged foods in favour of fresh, whole foods instead so you always know just want you are getting!
Follow a Plan of Attack to Eliminate Artificial Sweeteners
Once people are armed with the knowledge of what artificial can do to a diet and where to find them, it’s time to take time to eliminate them.
This goal can be achieved in one of two ways: quitting cold turkey or tapering off.
Because of the poisonous nature of artificial sweeteners, cutting them out cold turkey holds the advantage of immediately eliminating them from your diet and more quickly moving you towards your goal. Yet, the most important thing is cutting out these toxic substances, so if tapering brings greater success that is perfectly acceptable.
Reducing artificial sweetener intake everyday by half each day till all artificial sweeteners are fully removed from the diet.
Seek Healthier Alternatives
Cutting out sugar and artificial sweeteners does not have to mean a diet devoid of anything sweet. Treat fruit and berries as a dessert to satisfy a sweet tooth. Though they contain natural sugars, the fiber, water and antioxidants make them a healthy option. Natural sweeteners like raw honey, pure maple syrup, and organic stevia can make better alternatives, as long as they are used in moderation.
Artificial sweeteners are major diet detractors in serious and health threatening ways
If weight loss goals are not being met, overeating is an issue, and/or obesity is a concern, the use of artificial sweeteners could be a major contributor to the problem for a multitude of reasons.
Though at first it may seem hard to believe, the findings presented in study after study confirm that artificial sweeteners are major diet detractors in serious and health threatening ways. Though it may take some effort to cut them from diets, the reward is sure to be well worth the work!