I apologize for the lag in posts! I was away last week on vacation : )
But while I was on the road we made stops at places like Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Qudoba and I noticed the variety of different sweeteners and the frequency with which people were using them. Which got me thinking…
People ask me about artificial sweeteners all the time. Are they safe? Do I use them? What brands do I prefer? How much do I use? What do I use them for?
I personally use Truvia™ and Stevia In the Raw™ – I add these to things like my overnight oats, greek yogurt, baked goods, tea, and coffee. Some people report experiencing an unpleasant aftertaste from artificial sweeteners. I’ve never noticed this from either of the sweeteners that I use (but then again it could be that I am so used to the taste). I try to be mindful of the amount I use (I definitely like things sweet!) but like all things – wait for it – MODERATION is key! I am not perfect, sometimes my hand slips and oops my coffee is just as sweet as I could ever want it to be – do I need that much stevia in my coffee? No probably not…but I do try to remind myself of this and control my stevia urges ; )
If you read Liveng Proof then you’re most likely a health-minded individual. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you like to be in-the-know about the food products you consume. I’m guessing that you’ve probably heard some pretty alarming things regarding artificial sweeteners. More specifically, studies which link ingestion of artificial sweeteners (like Nutrisweet , Splenda, or Sweet ‘N Low) with the development of things like brain tumors, neurological disfunction, seizures, anxiety, bladder cancer, headaches, and/or multiple sclerosis, to name just a few.
Keep in mind however…
1. These findings are based on tests performed on lab rats (not humans)
2. Humans and rats have different stomach proteins, pH levels, and therefore react differently to said sweeteners
3. Often these tests require rats to consume a given high-intensity sweetener, in a quantity multiple times their own body weight
I heard that artificial sweeteners can cause weight gain and increase appetite.
You may remember in the 90’s when ‘fat’ was the enemy and low-fat food products flooded grocery stores. Knowing that there was less caloric consequence, people began to consume these ‘low-fat’ foods with less inhibition – “I can get away with eating more of these chips because they’re ‘low-fat’.” Subsequently this behavior results in over-consumption. The relationship between the consumption of low-fat food and weight gain was believed to be correlation, not causation.
Similarly this trend can also be applied to the current attitude consumers have regarding high-intensity sweeteners. Essentially void of calories, the enhanced sweetness these add to our food definitely has mass appeal! Basically high-intensity sweeteners allow us to “have our cake and eat it too”. But is this too good to be true? Are we more likely to eat more simply because it tastes amazing and we know there’s essentially zero calories?
Studies testing the overall dietary intake of two groups of people. Group 1, consumed only nutrient-rich sweeteners (no artificial high-intensity sweeteners) – for these people the taste of ‘sweetness’ is knowingly linked to metabolism. In other words, they know that by eating something that tastes especially sweet that they are consuming calories. While Group 2, consumed artificial high-intensity sweeteners – for this group the taste of ‘sweetness’ in their diet does not contribute to their caloric intake and is understood not to be linked to their metabolism.
The results found that there was in fact no difference in either groups overall energy intake. That is to say that the relationship between weight-gain and the consumption of artificial high-intensity sweeteners may correlate, but it certainly is not the cause. People who consume high-intensity sweeteners and do experience weight-gain, may be eating more simply because they’re aware the taste of ‘sweetness’ in their diet is essentially void of calories.
So not to be “Plain-Jane” about this, but my opinion on using high-intensity sweeteners is just like my approach to health & fitness in general; enjoy in moderation!