By Myprotein Writer
Despite the sweet stuff being essential for some of our favourite sweet treats, sugar can be the culprit of countless calories, bad for our teeth, and unhealthy spikes of our insulin levels.
And this is where artificial sweeteners come in: allegedly giving us the sweet taste without the calories. With two conflicting views, where does this leave us? To find out more, we’re going to take you through the positives, negatives, and give you all the info you need to make the best decision for your body and health.
What are artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are essentially, any sugar substitute that has been (usually chemically) created to emulate the sweet taste of sugar. Many, are often more concentrated in flavour meaning that less (gram for gram) is needed.
Not only are sweeteners available to buy in their ‘raw form’ in the sugar isle, but are also an ingredient of many of our favourite products.
Key names of sweeteners:
✓ Mannitol and Sorbitol
Each comes from a different source (either chemical or natural), but all have been deemed safe by the FDA.
Regardless of bad press, none of these approved sweeteners are ‘dangerous’ to you or your health!
What’s the drawbacks?
It’s natural to feel put off by the headlines, however there has been no conclusive evidence that artificial sweeteners actually cause cancer or contribute towards diabetes.
But of course, like any chemically manufactured product – there are some drawbacks.
Many artificial sweeteners are derived from chemicals; which are considered to be foreign bodies that we may not usually be used to. As a result, excessive consumption may have laxative events, or aggravate sensitive stomachs.
In addition, due to it’s sources, it’s safe to say any artificial sweeteners will not add anything to your diet. Other than being sweet in taste they have little-to-no nutritional value and can often add a more ‘chemical’ aftertaste than sugar itself, or natural alternatives such as date syrup, fructose, or honey. On this note, it can often lead to your craving not being necessarily met: almost tricking the body into thinking that it has had sugar but not giving it the nutritional alternative.
For those who have a particularly sweet tooth, this could lead to an increase in sugar cravings: constantly trying to find something to hit your sweet tooth that is not satisfied.
How about the benefits?
The obvious benefits is the huge savings on calories, and the detrimental effects sugar can have on the body.
Not only are they more macro friendly, artificial sweeteners can allow you to still enjoy foods you enjoy without the worry of weight gain.
Of course, opting for these lower-carb option may help to assist with muscle gain, weight loss, and reaching your fitness goals effectively without feeling like you are ‘missing out’. Versions of some sweeteners have also been developed to take the place of regular sugar in baking, having a similar texture and delivering a similar result!
Such sweeteners are also key for anyone already suffering from diabetes, again offering an alternative to sugar which can be very dangerous for any sufferers.
Like most things, it’s all a case of moderation!
Artificial sweeteners are a great way to hit that sugar craving, or enjoy a treat without making a huge dent in your macros.
But being a heavily processed food, it’s always advisable to use sweeteners in moderation with a diet full of mostly whole foods.
Take Home Message
Artificial sweeteners should not be something to be relied upon, but rather used to the advantage of your training and goals.