Just because the word “diet” is in there, doesn’t mean diet sweeteners help at all with your diet.
In fact, the more research that’s done, the more this fact is being proven.
Studies are seeing the opposite affect with diet sweeteners – they make your health worse (not better).
Before you swig another sip of that diet soda, here are 4 reasons to ditch diet sweeteners.
1.) They’re associated with belly fat
In a recent study at the University of Texas Health Science Center, people who drank diet sodas had a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who didn’t. In fact, the more diet soda a person drank, the larger their waist size. A dose-dependent relationship was seen between belly fat and diet soda consumption.
2.) They don’t actually satisfy a sweet craving
Studies show that sugar and diet sweeteners affect the brain in different ways. In a study conducted at the University of Davis, participants took sips of sugar and water, or sucralose (Spenda) mixed with water. The water plus sugar mixer activated regions of the brain that were involved in food reward. The diet sweetener plus water mixture didn’t. This result shines (huge) light on the likelihood that diet sweeteners don’t actually satisfy a craving for a sweet, they just make you want more sweet-things in general.
Instead of opting for sugary items, or items loaded with diet sweeteners when a craving hits, try a sweet fruit paired with protein. For example, apple slices with natural peanut butter, banana slices, topped with almond butter and then frozen for a sweet treat, or plain yogurt topped with berries. The fiber plus natural sweetness from the fruit, coupled with the protein in the nut butter or yogurt, will truly satisfy a craving.
3.) They make you crave sugar and sweets
Diet sweeteners can be up to 600 times sweeter than real sugar. This explosion of sweet truly sets us up to crave more of it. The human brain is wired to eat more when hit with signals of sweetness. If you constantly crave sweets, it may be time to start cutting out the fake sweeteners. To do this, it’s super helpful to check the ingredients because more and more companies sneakily add them in. Common names of diet sweeteners in the ingredient list are: saccharin (Sweet N’ Low), aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda), Rebiana (Stevia).
4.) They’re associated with weight gain
In a study at Purdue University, rats who ate yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin (Sweet N’ Low) compared to rats who ate yogurt sweetened with sugar, consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat, and didn’t make up for it by cutting back later. The rats who consumed the diet sweeteners also had a decreased metabolism. What’s fascinating here is that even though the rats who ate the diet sweetener consumed less calories overall, they still gained more weight and had more body fat.
Diet sweeteners have also been associated with heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Here are 3 tips to help you avoid diet sweeteners:
1.) Swap diet soda for hint water or hint fizz
2.) Check the ingredients: common names of diet sweeteners in the ingredient list are: saccharin (Sweet N’ Low), aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda), and Rebiana (Stevia)
3.) Use real whole foods, like fresh fruit or chopped pitted dates to sweeten things like plain yogurt, smoothies, or whole grains
1. American Psychological Association (APA). “Artificial Sweeteners Linked to Weight Gain.” APA. 2008. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2008/02/sweeteners.aspx
2. Harvard School of Public Health. “Artificial Sweeteners.” Harvard. The Nutrition Source. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/artificial-sweeteners/
3. Journal of The American Geriatrics Society. “Diet Soda Intake Is Associated with Long-Term Increases in Waist Circumference in a Biethnic Cohort of Older Adults: The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging.” Folwer, S., Hazuda, H., Williams, K. 2015. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jgs.13376/abstract