It’s no secret that we’re not fans of artificial sweeteners (or any sweeteners) around here. Data suggests that those who consume the sugar substitutes gain more weight and are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. A new report published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal nails it home with overwhelming scientific evidence that artificial sweeteners quite simply don’t help people lose weight.
After looking at a total of 37 different studies of artificial sweeteners—including both randomized trials and observational studies of 407,000 subjects—the authors concluded that there is zero evidence to suggest that non-nutritive sweeteners (NNSs) help people manage their weight. NNSs include popular sweeteners like aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and sucralose (Splenda), which are used in diet sodas and which many people add to coffee, desserts, etc.
Not only do artificial sweeteners not help with weight loss, some observational studies found a small increase in body mass index (BMI) associated with the use of artificial sweeteners. Furthermore, those who consumed sweeteners also have a 14% higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes and a 32% higher chance of cardiovascular events.
There are a few hypotheses for why artificial sweeteners don’t promote weight loss and have detrimental effects on health. One is that they may actually sharpen our sweet tooth, making us want to eat more sugary foods. Research also suggests that consuming high-intensity artificial sweeteners may impair energy balance and reduce satiety, the feeling of being full. Another theory is that they may alter our gut microbes, derailing our metabolism. All three may possible.
If you’ve been consuming artificial sweeteners in hopes of losing weight or keeping weight off, we hope this gives you pause.
So what’s the best alternative? Meghan Azad, the lead author of the report, recommends reducing your taste for sweetness altogether, by “getting used to plain or fruit-infused water, black coffee, and plain yogurt mixed with fruit rather than products containing either added sugars or artificial sweeteners.”
Want to give fruit-infused water a shot? Try hint’s variety pack, which includes 12 bottles and 4 delicious flavors of flavored water, for just $15.
Have you cut sweeteners out of your diet? Have you noticed any effects? Share below.