Artificial Sweeteners = Weight Gain

Artificial Sweeteners = Weight Gain

Many people, in an effort to lose weight and/or control their blood sugar levels, turn from sugar-sweetened beverages and products to those that use artificial sweeteners. The theory is that since artificial sweeteners contain no calories, a person consuming these products can still get the sweet-taste they love while avoiding the calories, blood sugar spikes and extra pounds that can come along with sugar sweetened beverages. Unfortunately, there is mounting evidence that not only is this not true; the research is showing that artificial sweeteners may cause weight gain and cause dramatic blood sugar spikes – exactly the behavior we have been led to believe they would prevent. (more…)

Artificial Sweeteners = Weight Gain!?

Artificial Sweeteners = Weight Gain!?

Here we are; the final post on artificial sweeteners and the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Why do artificial sweeteners, which contain no calories, lead to weight gain?

In 2008 Purdue University released a study that shocked the artificial sweetener world. The study showed that animals fed artificially sweetened foods and beverages had a harder time regulating their calorie intake and body weight. The animals who were fed foods with the artificial sweeteners ate more and gained more weight than animals who were fed foods sweetened with glucose which is a natural, high-calorie sweetener.

Why did the animals end up eating more when they were given artificially sweet foods? Because, the body knows that sweet foods naturally have a lot of calories. When we eat something sweet and the body doesn’t get the expected amount of calories, it sends out signals for us to eat more calories. So eating artificially sweet foods leads to increased eating.

The body also secretes a hormone called insulin when we eat foods with artificial sweeteners. Insulin takes sugar out of our blood, where it goes after we eat it, and into the cells so it can be either used for energy or stored. Because with artificial sweeteners there isn’t actually any sugar for insulin to move, the cells start to ignore insulin — they become insulin resistant. In the future, this means that more calories will be stored as fat because the insulin resistant cells won’t be accepting as many calories from insulin to use as energy.

These reasons in addition to the changes listed in earlier posts that correspond to individual sweeteners lead to unexpected weight gain. Instead of these sweeteners, you should really drink water! I know it sounds boring but it is essential to healthy living; our body is made up of 50-75% water and it is used for so many important things such as transporting nutrients, removing wastes and digestive processes. You should drink at least 8 glasses a day. Are you getting enough? In addition to water, some healthy alternatives are fruit and vegetable juices, spritzers (half juice, half seltzer) or Emer-Gen-C drinks. If you have to have an alternative sweetener, try stevia. Stevia is not man-made, it comes from a plant and is naturally calorie free. It is available as Truvia and SweetLeaf.

Any other suggestions out there? We’d love to hear them!

Artificial Sweeteners = Weight Gain!?

Things Everyone Should Know about Artificial Sweeteners!

When trying to lose weight, the majority of people will opt to replace their favorite sodas with the diet versions to cut calories out of their daily intake. In theory, this makes sense and sounds like a good idea. BUT when you look at the research, studies have shown over and over again that drinking soda, both regular and diet, encourages weight gain! What is it about diet sodas that is contributing to weight gain? The artificial sweeteners. Sugar is what gives regular soda its calories, in order to be a diet soda, the sugar has to be removed and it is replaced by artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners are engineered compounds that don’t give us any calories. Aside from unexpected weight gain, artificial sweeteners have many other negative health effects.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is found in a wide variety of food and drink. It is also known as Equal, Nutrasweet and Sugar Twin. Aspartame does provide calories when consumed but it is up to 220 times sweeter than sugar. This means very very small amounts are used for sweetening in food products and amounts this small provide virtually zero calories. Even though teeny tiny amounts are being used, aspartame is the most controversial artificial sweetener. 70 % of complaints to the Food and Drug Administration are due to aspartame. Aspartame causes neurotransmitter imbalances. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in your brain that travel to different parts of your body and tell it what to do. They also affect mood, sleep, weight and concentration. Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means it calms the brain and creates balance. Aspartame decreases serotonin levels leading to cravings for carbohydrates (sugar!), insomnia, body temperature changes, headaches and migraines, seizures and moodiness. It also causes an increase in the excitatory neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters stimulate the brain. An increase causes anxiety, dizziness, memory loss, spasms, muscle pain, tinnitus (a ringing in the ears) and blurred vision.

When consumed during pregnancy, aspartame can have lasting effects on the baby. It can lead to mental retardation, impaired vision and birth defects as well as behavioral, emotional and learning difficulties.

In the OBB program, we know that one of the main areas of weight loss resistance is neurotransmitter imbalances. Having the wrong balance of neurotransmitters with not only prevent you from losing weight but also could be causing you to gain more weight. Even if you are not trying to lose weight, knowing about the negative effects of aspartame should make you reconsider some food and beverage choices.

Check back soon for more information on artificial sweeteners — spenda/sucralose and acesulfame K — as well as an explanation of what goes on in your body when you consume these sweeteners and some suggestions on what you should try in place of diet soda!

Artificial Sweeteners = Weight Gain!?

Artificial Sweeteners Could Be Sabotaging Your Diet


This article came in today and I HAVE to re-post it. It is from Dr. Mark Hyman. Artificial sweeteners are so addictive and so tempting to use. I know I struggle with eliminating diet sodas and all artificially sweetened things (especially since I have a food sensitivity to regular sugar) This has inspired me to re-commit to NO FAKE FOODS!

There’s no doubt about it. Artificial sweeteners cause obesity.

I always thought it was funny to see a very large person order a Big Mac, large fries — and top it off with a Diet Coke. I also found it peculiar that I rarely saw thin people drinking diet sodas. So I began to wonder if there could be a link between diet beverages or artificial sweeteners and obesity. As I began to explore this notion, I discovered a number of different research findings that pointed to this very phenomenon.

First, our current obesity epidemic has coincided perfectly with the introduction of large amounts of artificial sweeteners into our food supply. Although we cannot say for sure that this means artificial sweeteners cause obesity, it certainly makes me wonder.

Next, a body of research indicates that just the thought or smell of food initiates a whole set of hormonal and physiologic responses that get the body ready for food. This is familiar to us from Pavlov’s dog experiment, where he trained dogs to salivate by associating the ringing of a bell with the presentation of food. By doing this repeatedly, he eventually trained the dogs to salivate in anticipation of food simply by ringing the bell — without any food at all.

Think of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as ringing the bell for your physiology. Today I will explain how that happens and review some of the research that indicates artificial sweeteners may not be all they are cracked up to be.

The Problem with Ringing Your Physiological Bells

Ringing the bells in your body with artificial sweeteners is not a good thing. It’s even worse when you ring the bells with artificial sweeteners and then not provide any sugar. Here’s why …

Our brains know how to get our bodies ready for food. It is called the cephalic (for “head”) phase reflex. Your brain is preparing for food even before your fork or cup crosses your lips. This allows you to anticipate and prepare for the arrival of nutrients in your intestinal tract, improves the efficiency of how your nutrients are absorbed, and minimizes the degree to which food will disturb your natural hormonal balance and create weight gain.

So in a way, your body is already preparing to regulate your energy balance, metabolism, weight, calorie burning, and many other things — just by thinking about food. Any sweet taste will signal your body that calories are on the way and trigger a whole set of hormonal and metabolic responses to get ready for those calories.

When you trick your body and feed it non-nutritive or non-caloric sweeteners, like aspartame, acesulfame, saccharin, sucralose, or even natural sweeteners like stevia, it gets confused. And research supports this.

Studies Show Artificial Sweeteners Lead to Weight Gain

An exciting study in the Journal of Behavioral Neuroscience has shown conclusively that using artificial sweeteners not only does not prevent weight gain, but induces a whole set of physiological and hormonal responses that actually make you gain weight. ( i)

The researchers proved this by giving two different groups of rats some yogurt. One batch of yogurt was sweetened with sugar. The other was sweetened with saccharin. They found that three major things happened over a very short period of time in the rats that were fed artificially sweetened yogurt.

First, the researchers found that the total food eaten over 14 days dramatically increased in the artificial sweetener group — meaning that the artificial sweetener stimulated their appetite and made them eat more.

Second, these rats gained a lot more weight and their body fat increased significantly.

And third (and this is very concerning) was the change in core body temperature of the rats fed the artificial sweeteners. Their core body temperature decreased, meaning their metabolism slowed down.

So not only did the rats eat more, gain more weight, and have more body fat, but they actually lowered their core body temperature and slowed their metabolism. As I have said many times before, all calories are not created equal …

The most astounding finding in the study was that even though the rats that ate the saccharin-sweetened yogurt consumed fewer calories overall than the rats that ate the sugar-sweetened yogurt, they gained more weight and body fat.

These findings turn the conventional view that people will consume fewer calories by drinking artificially sweetened drinks or eating artificially sweetened foods on its head. Despite their name, these are not “diet” drinks. They are actually “weight gain” drinks!

We’re surrounded by low-calorie, “health conscious foods” and diet soft drinks that contain sweeteners. As a result, the number of Americans who consume products that contain sugar-free sweeteners grew from 70 million in 1987 to 160 million in 2000.

At the same time, the incidence of obesity in the United States has doubled from 15 percent to 30 percent across all age groups, ethnic groups, and social strata. And the number of overweight Americans has increased from about 30 percent to over 65 percent of the population. The fastest growing obese population is children.

Here’s the bottom line: Avoid artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, acesulfame, sucralose, sugar alcohols such as malitol and xylitol (pretty much anything that ends in “ol”), as well as natural artificial sweeteners like stevia.

Stop confusing your body. If you have a desire for something sweet, have a little sugar, but stay away from “fake” foods. Eating a whole-foods diet that has a low glycemic load and is rich in phytonutrients and indulging in a few real sweet treats once in a while is a better alternative than tricking your body with artificial sweeteners — which leads to wide scale metabolic rebellion and obesity.

So, put that teaspoon of sugar in your tea and enjoy!

Mark Hyman, M.D.


(i) Swithers SE, Davidson TL. A role for sweet taste: Calorie predictive relations in energy regulation by rats. Behav Neurosci. 2008 Feb;122(1):161-73.

What a Healthy Plate Should Look Like

What a Healthy Plate Should Look Like

Rarely does a day go by when I am not asked what a ‘healthy’ diet is? Some people ask in the hopes of finding the magic combination of foods to achieve a health goal; others ask so they can justify how they want and/or like to eat and/or proselytize how one diet or way of eating is better or worse than others. But most people are just confused about what a health meal really looks like, and it’s no wonder with all the (mis)information out there. (more…)