Artificial sweeteners have been used as a calorie-free alternative to sugar for over a century. In theory, this substitute sounds revolutionary—you can enjoy coffee and baked goods without sacrificing your weight loss efforts. But, according to our nutrition experts, the reality might not be so sweet.

What Are Artificial Sweeteners?

The first artificial sweetener, saccharin, was created in 1879. It is around 300 to 500 times sweeter than regular sugar, contains few calories, and is often used to improve the tastes of dietary foods and beverages. Since its creation, other artificial sweeteners have hit the market including aspartame, sucralose, neotame, and acesulfame potassium. You’ve probably seen these substitutes in color-coded packets—blue for aspartame, yellow for sucralose, and pink for saccharin—at your favorite restaurant. As the name suggests, artificial sweeteners are produced synthetically. For that reason, they are cheap to produce and have a long shelf life. Unlike regular sugar, they do not cause spikes in blood glucose, making them popular among those with diabetes or reactive hypoglycemia. But are they also a boon to people following weight loss programs?

How Do They Affect Weight?

Sugary foods trigger the production of hormones and other chemicals that “reward” your brain and make you feel satisfied. Researchers argue that artificial sweeteners interrupt this process because, unlike real sugar or natural sweeteners, they have little to no caloric value. Thus, they can increase appetite and cause sugar cravings. Recent studies suggest that, over time, artificial sweetener consumption can lead to a higher BMI. It is also important to note that artificial sweeteners are not broken down like natural ones, meaning your body can’t use them for energy. Keep this trait in mind when shopping for supplements—artificially sweetened pre-workout drinks and protein shakes likely won’t improve your recovery or provide enough fuel. Opt for products that use stevia or other natural sweeteners instead. For smoothies, try using stevia, raw honey, monk fruit, or erythritol. Eating right doesn’t mean you have to give up sweet foods—you just need to find healthy alternatives. That’s where Custom Health Centers. Our nutrition specialists can help you not only find natural sugar substitutes but also optimize your diet for weight loss. Call us at (844) 789-8446  today or click here to schedule your free consultation!

Medically reviewed and written by:

Dr. Jason Olafsson D.C.

Founder & CEO Doctor of Chiropractic Life University
February 12, 2021 — Dr. Jason Olafsson