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!