I already see the geeky bodybuilders roll their eyes: we all know that sweeteners are not bad! Come on, Chantal: during contest prep we are all eating Skyr, berries and artificial sweeteners as staple food. Sorry guys and girls, this article is not for you, but you can still scroll down to the recipes at the end of the article if you want some variation in your diet 😉 This article is dedicated to all the people who are struggling with their diets and have been told that sweetners are ultra-bad, cause cancer, neurotoxicity and are increasing cravings. But is it true? Let’s have a closer look at what the current research says.
What are sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are a range of low or non-caloric substances used instead of sugar, honey or other caloric “natural” sweetener in order to save calories. The most common of them are aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and cyclamate. They are often 80x to 700x sweeter than sugar and therefore you can use a very small quantity to have the same sweetness.
Are sweeteners harmful?
No, especially the big bad boy aspartame and sucralose seem to be completely safe up to a dosage of 50mg/kg per day. For me it would mean to eat 2500 mg (=2,5 g) a day, which corresponds to drink thirteen 330ml (12 oz.) cans of diet coke to put yourself at risk of any health issues.
For saccharin there is not enough data to show complete safety even if all but one studies are showing it. Nevertheless since it has a bitter, metallic aftertaste, it’s generally a secondary choice.
Erythritol is often told to be a “natural” zero calorie sweetener but since the body can barely metabolize it, it can be stressfull to your gut and can have laxative effects. The texture is similar to table sugar and you can use it to sprinkle it over treats, for example pancakes. Because of the drawbacks mentioned above, be careful with the dosage and combine it with other sweeteners.
Do sweeteners increase insulin, appetite and induce cravings?
No, since they are calorie free or very hypocaloric they do not raise blood sugar and therefore also insulin levels remain unaffected.
Sweeteners do not increase your appetite too, but they may create a desire to eat more if they are consumed inbetween meals, just like snacking does because it makes you think about food.
Of course, artificial sweeteners can increase your preference for sweet foods, but all sweet food does and if you use them wisely you can make your diet suck less, which therefore increases diet adherence.
Do not be the sheep believing all the sensationalistics headlines in the media, use sweetener in moderation if you are missing the sweet taste but do not want to add calories. You will enjoy your diet much more, believe me!
Do you need inspiration? Try some of our recipes, for example:
What is your opinion on sweetners? Do you use them or not? I am really interested in your opinion: leave it it in the comment section below.
If you are not enjoying your diet even though you are already using sweeteners 😉 , are struggling seeing progress, just contact Stefan for help. Thanks to his recipes and wise advice, he got me successfully through weight cutting and training even during a very stressful period at work and significantly increased grumpyness 😉 .