Whether you are a Keto Dieter, a Low Carb Dieter or following any other method of eating food… This guide will help you figure out how to approach artificial sweeteners.
We'll discuss what sweeteners to avoid, what sweeteners to use in moderation and the big fat WHY behind this rationale.
We Are Addicted To Sugar
Americans (and most of the world) are heavily addicted to sugar. Ingesting sugar stimulates our brain's “reward” pathway. Which is why we crave it and why it's so difficult to get out of our diet.
You'll probably agree that there is a lot of conflicting evidence out there about artificial sweeteners.
The controversy surrounding artificial sweeteners is enough to get anyone's head spinning.
So what do we do?
Here's the short answer…
- Splenda (Sucralose) Nutrisweet
- Equal (Aspartame)
Sunnet & Sweet One (Acesulfame Potassium)
- Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin & Sugar Twin (Saccharin)
Instead, choose one of these:
- Bocha Sweet
- Monk Fruit Sweetener
- Lakanto Sugar Free Maple Flavored Syrup
- Pyure Premium Organic Stevia Sweetener Packets
- Liquid Stevia Clear by SweetLeaf
- Liquid Vanilla Creme Stevia by Sweetleaf
- Xylitol (real birch)
Tara's Favorite Sugar Substitute
Not only does it taste amazing, it is a super food. Bocha Sweet is extracted from the Kabocha Pumpkin which has long been a superfood staple of the Japanese diet. It has a whole host of good-for-your body benefits.
And, did I mention it tastes amazing?
And always remember….
With any artificial sweetener, you should ingest them in moderation.
What are the facts on Artificial Sweeteners?
Consuming Artificial Sweeteners Probably Won't Help You Lose Weight
A study that followed over 2,000 volunteers for 7-8 years found a correlation between drinking diet soda and becoming overweight or obese. The more diet soda they drank, the more likely obesity would occur. 1
Replacing toxic sugar with questionable artificial sugars isn't the real solution. Instead of solving our sugar addiction problem, it creates a false sense of security. We say “YES! I can drink and eat sweet stuff as much as I want because there aren't any calories!” Then, because we're human, and live in the land of plenty– we over indulge.
Replacing Sugar with Artificial Sweeteners Doesn't Make You Healthier
Studies suggest that replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners don't lead to a healthier future. It doesn't reduce the risk of disease such as heart disease, diabetes or hypertension. 2
Instead of replacing sugar with artificial sugars, we need to address the ‘sugar addiction' we are programmed to struggle with. Swap out candy and sweets for real foods. Swap out soda for sparkling water or pure filtered water flavored with Young Living Vitality Essential Oils such as Lime, Grapefruit, Tangerine or Lemon.
What About Artificial Sugar's Role in Metabolic Syndrome?
Studies are unclear as to artificial sugars role in metabolic syndrome. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that ingesting artificial sugars could wreak havoc on your endocrine system. Some studies show a link to elevation in blood sugar, increase in appetite and disruption of normal energy metabolism that promotes obesity.3
There's enough evidence here to make me want to avoid artificial sweeteners as much as possible. The good news is that your taste buds will change over time and you won't crave or desire very many sweets. This is one benefit of the Keto Diet. When you give your body the good fats it craves, sugar cravings are drastically reduced.
Then What's The Real Solution?
It's important to overcome your brain's addiction to sugar. Substituting another sweet substance won't get you where you want to be.
Drink your coffee a little blacker than you like it. Enjoy your sparkling or mineral water a little less sweet. Hydrate with lots of pure, filtered water.
For flavor add Young Living Vitality Essential Oils such as Lime, Lemon, Jade Lemon, Tangerine, Orange, Spearmint and Citrus Fresh! Or check out True Lime and True Lemon packets.
You can overcome your sugar addiction!
How Do I Tell if Artificial Sweeteners Are Causing A Blood Sugar Spike?
If you are insulin resistant or diabetic, it is important to test artificial sweeteners and how they affect YOUR body. In fact– I recommend this for all my clients.
The easiest way to measure your insulin response is by measuring your blood sugar. If you don't already have one, invest in a reliable Glucometer and test your blood sugar. Let's talk about how to do this.
You should take a “fasting” measure a few hours after you wake up in the morning. It is also useful to measure your blood sugar an hour or two after a meal to see what kind of a insulin response your body had to that meal.
When we eat a LCHF Ketogenic diet, we eventually expect to stop seeing a very large spike in blood sugar post-meal.
This is something you should track and measure throughout your Keto journey.
Here's the Glucometer we use and recommend. We like that it comes with enough testing strips and lancets for the first months of a Keto transition.
Once you've established a baseline, you can test your blood sugar an hour and two hours after ingesting something you've made with one of the recommended artificial sweetners on my list. If you see an unusual spike, then you should likely avoid that specific sweetner.
Note that it's important to only change one thing about your meal. Test after a meal that you've already established a baseline for numerous times. Then add in the “extra” and see what happens.
Stevia is my one of my two favorite sugar substitutes (the other being Bocha Sweet which I have mentioned a few times already). You'll find this in my purse wherever I go. I prefer the taste of the liquid versions and many brands carry flavored versions.
I use this to make an alternative ‘soda' with plain sparkling water, a few drops of stevia & my favorite Young Living Vitality Essential Oil. Orange, Tangerine, Lemon, Spearmint are just a few flavors you can experiment with! Drop in a tsp of organic lemon juice in addition for a real treat!
Alternative Sweeteners To Travel With
What about travel? At work? This pyure stevia is the powdered Stevia that we use for “on-the-go”. You'll find these little packets tucked in my purse, laptop bag and beach bag. You just never know when you'll need to sweeten something up.
How do we get that brown sugar flavor into baked goods and sweet treats? The answer is Molasses! Just a touch will do. Make sure you're using Organic Unsulphured Molasses. The other stuff is highly processed and can spike your blood sugar–which is a ‘no-no' in the Keto lifestyle.
Other Sugar Alternative Options
Xylitol is a low-digestible carbohydrate that is considered a crystalline alcohol. Their is some widespread controversy over this sugar replacement. Approach it with caution because it is known to cause GI distress in some people. (me included)
This isn't something I would recommend you use daily–but it does the trick on occasion when you need to round out the flavor of Stevia. Make sure you do your research on this one. Consider using “Monk Fruit” Sweetener instead.
Monk Fruit (luo han guo) is a safe and beneficial sugar alternative that has been used by the ancient Chinese for medicinal purposes for centuries. It's loaded with antioxidants. It's also available in “Golden” which lends a slight brown sugar taste.
Why Are Some Artificial Sweeteners Evil?
I'm going to spend most of this section discussing Splenda (Sucralose) because it has become very heavily use in the food industry. It's hiding everywhere in things like salad dressing to cough syrup to drinks to medications.
What is Splenda (Sucralose)? Isn't it Natural?
A chlorinated artificial sweetener that is made in a laboratory. The end result (sucralose) does not resemble anything found in nature. Therefore our body doesn't recognize it.
Now, the manufacturer of Splenda will claim that they start with sugar and try to make you ‘think' it's natural. However, you'll notice they don't actually market it as ‘natural'.
I have personal experience with the horrors of Splenda side effects. My personal symptoms are migraines, fatigue, inflammation in my joints and a flu-like feeling. For years, I ingested a lot of Splenda in the form of Crystal Light.
I didn't know how sick it was making me until I stopped using it all together.-Tara
If you are a splenda user, I encourage you to omit it and substitute a better option above. After a few months, see how you feel.
That's not all…
Splenda is hidden in a lot of products that we ingest without thinking about it. Subway's “Southwest” dressing contains sucralose. Many cough syrups/medications contain it. Many “light” or sweetened beverages contain it. Even many antacids now contain it!
You really have to be intentional about avoiding Splenda.
What's the Deal with Aspartame, Acesulfame Pottasium, Saccharin & Acesulfame-K?
The evidence is conflicting on these artificial sweeteners.
After my terrible experience with Splenda I became very skeptical about artifical sweeteners in general.I believe that there should be studies that without a doubt PROVE safety of these chemicals.
Since there are a number of safer options — such as Bocha Sweet and Stevia – I personally choose these.
Resources & References
- Fowler SP, Williams K, Resendez RG, Hunt KJ, Hazuda HP, Stern MP. 2008. Fueling the obesity epidemic? Artificially sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain. Obesity (Silver Spring) 16(8): 1894-900
- Gardner C, Wylie-Rosett J, Gidding SS, Steffen LM, Johnson RK, Reader D, Lichtenstein AH. 2012. Nonnutritive sweeteners: current use and health perspectives: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care 35(8): 1798-808
- Low-calorie sweeteners: Are they better or worse for you than sugar? by The Environmental Working Group
- A Complete Guide To Artificial Sweeteners by Brian Rigby http://university.peertrainer.com/complete-guide-artificial-sweeteners This is a lengthy and well written guide on the dangers of the artificial sweeteners I mention here. It's excellent information if you want to dive deeper.