Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Artificial Sweeteners

Are artificial sweeteners bad? There is a lot of concern out there over artificial sweeteners/sugar substitutes. The 4 most common sweeteners are saccharine, sucralose, aspartame and stevia (this is a natural sweetener but is used in the same way and subject to similar claims).

Proponents of the “sweeteners are bad” message often claim that they cause are toxic, cause cancer, and cause insulin spikes and weight gain. In fact there is no scientific evidence that any of them cause cancer (or any disease). The studies used to support this view are on rats, and with excessively high doses. In one study rats were given up to 5,000 mg/kg bodyweight of asparatame. A Diet Coke has 187 mg (which equates to approx 2-3 mg/ kg bodyweight for a human adult). If you scale that up to humans (irrespective of the fact there’s no evidence humans respond the same way) then that’s the equivalent of over 2000 cans a day of Diet Coke. Only one study showed a possible link to blood cancer in rats (not humans) and even then it was a correlation (not the same as causation).

The most recent claim is that the sweeteners “trick” your brain into thinking you’ve had sugar and cause an insulin response (which then causes you to eat more sugar). This simply isn’t true – insulin isn’t released unless sugar is present, no calories, no sugar = no insulin response. Others claim that diet drinks cause obesity. Obesity is caused by consuming excess calories, but sweeteners contain no calories so they can’t possibly cause obesity. They can’t work against the laws of thermodynamics!

Some argue that it negatively affects gut health but as the gut doesn’t have much involvement (there is nothing to be absorbed) this isn’t the case. Studies have only shown an impact with extreme consumption (we’re talking over 8 litres of diet drinks per day every day).

Some people are sensitive to some sweeteners (just as some people are sensitive to a range of foods) and obviously if it doesn’t agree with you then clearly don’t have them . But sweeteners can be a really helpful way to replace a calorie dense sugar with something of similar taste but no calories, so can really help aid fat loss.

So consuming them in moderation is perfectly ok!

Happy Tuesday 🤗


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