Sugar substitutes are not a shortcut to weight loss!
The topic of sugar substitutes is a big one if you are trying to lose weight. There is no doubt that high amounts of sugar are bad for your health and have a negative effect on the scale. But that doesn´t stop us from craving sweet things. With sugar substitutes, we have the choice between a 150 calories lemonade or a zero calories lemonade with sweeteners. The choice most people will take is obvious.
The key to a sustainable weight loss is burning more calories than you eat. Or at least the same amount. When you replace your sugary intakes with the zero calorie version of it you can save a good amount of calories per day. That will help you maintain a healthy weight and also lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. However, choosing a diet lemonade will not end in weight loss if you compensate by eating bigger portions.
Each body is different and reacts differently to certain things. If you see your cravings rising after a diet lemonade than you should probably stick to water or tea.
Every medal has two sides! So, the good thing is, they have close to zero calories. But does the lack of calories include that sweeteners are healthy?
Different types of sugar substitutes
These are the top 5 names you will see once you start checking the nutrition labels: saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, sucralose.
They are created differently and the reactions of the body are very complex when we consume artificial sweeteners. Let me show you some of the most common concerns …
- Sometimes it happens that we fool ourselves by thinking: “I´m drinking the diet lemonade so it will be ok to eat the butter-creme cake afterward.” And there goes the calorie deficit!
- People who usually use artificial sweeteners might find less sweet foods (e.g. fruits) less appealing and therefore eat them less. A big deficiency of healthy vitamins will be the result.
- There is another interesting suggestion: Sweeteners may prevent us from associating sweetness with calorie-rich intakes. As a result, we might choose sweet foods over nutritious food.
- Sugar activates the food rewards pathway. In conclusion, that means the missing calories from sugar are the reason we don´t stop craving sweet things after having artificial sweeteners. There is no signal to our brain to regulate the appetite.
Most dangerous sugar
Saccharin was first discovered in 1878. Over the time there was already thought to be a connection between bladder cancer. As a result, all products which contained saccharin had to label the product with a warning, that it might cause cancer. After some time the warning was removed but the bad feeling about saccharin stays.
Acesulfame is often used in chewing gums, candies and alcoholic beverages. You will often see it combined with aspartame. The studies that were made revealed a possible connection to mood problems, cancer, problems with eyesight. Besides the sweetening effect acesulfame is additionally used as a flavor enhancer. You will find it in baked goods and processed foods. It is believed to affect the metabolism negatively because of its structure our body can´t break it down.
It was first 1965 and distributed with the brand name NutraSweet. Aspartame is one of the most in-depth researched food ingredients. Until today there is no valid evidence that would prove a link between weight-loss and aspartame consumption. Common side effects can be migraines, mood swings or dizziness.
Neotame is 7.000 – 13.000 times sweeter than table sugar! Unbelievable, right?! It was also made by the brand NutraSweet like aspartame. Only small amounts of it are used to sweeten foods, that makes it very cost attractive to food manufacturers. Neotame is based on the structure of aspartame and that alone should ring some bells with you.
Sucralose is derived from sugar, it is produced by chlorination of sucrose. Just think about that, chlorine is one of the most toxic chemicals you can find. Sucralose isn´t biological inert and will be metabolized by the body and will result in a toxic effect for our body.
The best natural sweeteners alternatives
These natural alternatives to sweeteners come with a few calories but therefore they are free from chemicals.
- Honey (64 kcal/ tbs)
- Dates (66 kcal)
- Coconut Sugar (45 kcal/ tbs)
- Maple Syrup (52 kcal/ tbs)
- Blackstrap Molasses (47 kcal/ tbs)
- Balsamic Glace (30 kcal/ tbs)
- Brown Rice Syrup (55 kcal/ tbs)
We are dealing with a sweet tooth from time to time and replacing added sugars with artificial sweeteners may have benefits for weight loss.
The scientific research is controversial whether it´s beneficial for your health to use sweeteners or not.
Like always, there´s no answer that fits all. If you are experiencing negative side effects from its use, it might depend on the amount you use and also on your body. Some might get a reaction whereas others will never see any negative side effects.