A sugar substitute is a food additive that duplicates the sugar in taste, but not in its energy value(calories). There are two classification of sugar substitutes; natural and artificial.
Now as you are reading you have more then likely made your mind up about which is a better choice for you, but we are going to see why artificial sweeteners will showno negligible affects to your weight loss goals and/or body composition, and that natural are the ones in fact that may cause some issues.
Today's main artificial sweeteners are aspartame (equal), Stevia, and Surculose (splenda). These sweet things are added to products such as diet soft drink, sugar free jelly, chewing gum, protein bars and pretty much anything with the title "diet" or "lite" on it. Over the past few years these artificial sweeteners have been said to cause some serious health issues, some of these are:
- Weight gain due to insulin response
- Causing cancer
Now in some studies these have come back true... however they were done on mice. I don't know about you, but I know I'm not a mouse. In Human studies however these have come back 100% clear from causing any adverse long term health issues. I don't want to bore you with studies; I just want you to know that the evidence shows that there are no health concerns with consuming products with artificial sweeteners.
The other sugar substitute we have to talk about it natural substitutes. You may have seen these on "low carb" bars as Maltitol, Glycerol, lactitol, sorbitol, and Xylitol. These are known as sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols function differently in the body as a normal sugar would. Some of these are known to cause some gastric distress such as, Nausea, laxation, gas and/or bloating. Now reading this you are probably wondering why anyone would add these sugar substitutes to foods, They do this because they have less calories than regular sugar, meaning when you look at the carbohydrate and/or calories on the back of a protein bar these numbers will be considerably lower due to the addition of the sugar substitutes.
Take home message
Artificial sweeteners are perfectly safe to consume and natural sweeteners may cause some gastric distress. Sugar substitutes should never substitute meals as they have no nutrients, but can be a used in addition with a balanced diet to help you stay on track. Your can of Coke Zero will not cause you cancer; I may just be that sweet treat you need with your lunch to stop you from going to that cookie jar.
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