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The Risks Associated with Using Artificial Sweeteners while Dieting

Risks from Artificial Sweeteners while DietingThough it might be new information to you, you should understand why artificial sweeteners while dieting are not automatically a good idea. It’s important to understand, first and foremost, that these are made up of substances that do not provide nutrition.  Therefore, deciding whether or not they are appropriate for you needs to be a consideration of their own inherent risks and the risks compared to what you are replacing – typically speaking, sugar.

Is it Definitely Bad for You to Use Artificial Sweeteners While Dieting?

The quick answer to this question is: it’s complicated.  Using artificial sweeteners while dieting takes in a wide spectrum of variables.  For instance:

  • Which type of sweetener you’re consuming
  • How much of it you’re consuming
  • What you’re replacing with its consumption
  • Your medical history

Despite the sketchy reputation these chemicals have, they are not automatically dangerous to your health.

That said, using artificial sweeteners while dieting isn’t necessarily good for you, either. Moreover, the choice you make regarding which option to consume and how much of it you’re consuming also plays a major role in its health safety, risk and appropriateness.

Will They Help You Lose Weight?

It may surprise you to discover that use of artificial sweeteners while dieting doesn’t automatically mean you’ll lose weight. It all depends on how it’s used.  When it comes to weight loss, the primary benefit has to do with calorie content. Therefore, if you are replacing something with higher calories with an option that has zero calories, you’ll take a step closer to controlling your weight. If you complement this with enough dietary changes that you’re in a caloric deficit, over time, you’ll likely drop the pounds.

However, it should be noted that using artificial sweeteners for dieting doesn’t guarantee you’ll reach a calorie deficit. It also doesn’t mean that you’re eating any more healthfully.  They’re not good for you.  That is, they don’t contain any nutrition you need.  While some have been shown to be perfectly safe, even when used over the long term, others are not as helpful. Be sure to check which options have FDA approval and for how long, and take your time examining the research behind them.

Can They Make You Gain Weight?

In some cases, using artificial sweeteners on a regular basis can actually make you gain weight.  Again, it’s all in which ones you choose and how you use them.  If you turn to these “diet” foods and beverages because they are low in sugar, but you don’t control the rest of your diet, you may have built a false sense of security for yourself and wind up eating more calories by the end of the day, instead of less.

Furthermore, some studies have indicated that there can be an affect on metabolism, hormones, and insulin production, which can make someone feel hungrier than they actually are. Some researchers have speculated that because the flavor of sweetness is detected on the tongue, the body expects sugar and therefore begins processes to process that sugar, including insulin production. When the sugar doesn’t arrive, the insulin and other processes are not completed, leaving the individual feeling hungry and, therefore, more inclined to overeat.

If this is a matter of drinking an extra can of zero-calorie pop, it’s not necessarily good for you but also isn’t necessarily bad for you.  If this means that you’re eating more of something that contains calories because the soda – or other artificial sweetener containing food – is making you hungrier, then it’s more problematic and more likely to affect weight gain.

Always Know Exactly What You Are Consuming

Though you may think that using artificial sweeteners while dieting makes the food or beverage enjoyable, be careful to read labels. Look for hidden sugar, salt, preservatives, and chemicals that can really alter your body’s composition in unpleasant ways. Understand what exactly you are putting into your body.

Remember that your goal is always to eat as many nutritious, whole, and natural foods as possible.  This won’t be the case if you’re relying on artificial sweeteners for weight loss.  Having it on occasion isn’t necessarily harmful but leaning on it on a regular basis certainly isn’t ideal to your health, wellness and weight control.

Though use of artificial sweeteners while dieting may seem like a smart idea, consider your more nutritious and long-term alternatives. Artificial anything isn’t usually your ideal option when there is a whole food option available.  Moreover, you will not automatically lose weight when using artificial sweeteners.  Therefore, choose this option strategically and sparingly and focus on making overall healthy and nutritious food and drink choices for best results.