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Sugar Substitute Saga

Sugar Substitute Saga

If you’re a woman trying to lose weight this article is for you.  

Calorie free sweeteners, you know, those found notably in diet soft drinks among other everyday foods?   They may seem like a natural fit for your diet plan – or at least a sensible alternative for that sweet pick me up every now and then, but research has been unclear as to whether they aid in weight loss.   Studies are conflicted with some suggesting they may even contribute to weight gain, larger waistlines and metabolic disorders.  

Yes, artificial sweeteners such as stevia, Splenda, even Equal have a zero calorie label, and they do deliver the taste of sugar without calories, but they are all essentially food additives, and our bodies respond differently to all of them.  Because of this, it’s important to be aware of their potential effects as you work towards your health and fitness goals.    

This story continues to unfold with a 2021 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.  Researchers worked with 74 participants in a randomized, cross-over trial, taking a closer look at appetite and cravings after sucralose consumption.  They provided male and female participants beverages that contained sugar (in the form of sucrose), sweetness matched sugar substitute (in the form of sucralose) or water before going for a MRI to assess how appetite regions in the brain reacted to craveable foods such as burgers or donuts.  Afterwards, participants were offered a buffet-style meal.  All participants were tested with all three beverages over a three-month period.  

Interestingly, women in particular, along with participants with obesity (BMI 30 or above) had increased “appetite” activity in the brain after consuming the sugar substitute beverage.  It was also observed that women who drank the sugar substitute beverage ate more at the snack buffet.  One of the study’s authors Dr. Kathleen Page, explained that studying the different groups allowed them to show that females and people with obesity may respond differently to artificial sweeteners, in a sense tricking the brain into feeling hungrier!  

Published January 1, 2022


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