Food & Nutrition

7 Things That Could Happen If You Stop Eating Artificial Sweeteners

Without fake sugar in your diet, the future looks pretty sweet.

You might bust a weight loss plateau


It’s a common scenario: To stay full throughout the day but keep calories low, many people will sip five or six diet sodas and eat their only meal at dinner, explains Caroline Cederquist, MD, a metabolism and weight loss expert and founder of bistroMD. And even if that meal isn’t huge (so their total daily calorie intake is not high), they find they still can’t lose weight. The problem may be all those sugar substitutes. “Artificial sweeteners consumed alone, without food, can trigger the release of insulin, because the body is expecting something sweet,” Cederquist explains. “Insulin is a hormone that helps with the storage of fat.” Eat regular meals to avoid a spike in insulin and you could start seeing excess pounds come off. These are the 10 biggest food myths you need to stop believing.

You might gain weight


Yep, there’s another side to the coin. If you swap a daily diet soda or sugar-free latte for a beverage that contains real sugar (because you heard the real deal was actually healthier), you’re going to add empty calories that could lead to weight gain, Dr. Cederquist says. One way to avoid this trap? Replace those diet drinks with water or unsweetened herbal tea (single-serve packets of crystallized Pique Tea are easier than brewing), and make sure you eat meals that contain lean protein, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you satisfied. Find out the 15 signs your weight gain means something more serious.

Your candy cravings might disappear


In animal studies, artificially sweetened foods primed the brain’s reward system to seek out more sugar and calories, according to research from The University of Sydney. “These findings further reinforce the idea that ‘sugar-free’ varieties of processed food and drink may not be as inert as we anticipated,” study author Herbert Herzog, MD, said in a press release. When the brain anticipates sweets and then doesn’t get the calories it was expecting, it may trigger cravings for sweets to fulfill that promise. Without artificial sweeteners, there’s not promise to fulfill. Check out what your food cravings reveal about your health.

You could slash your diabetes risk


Artificial sweeteners may contribute to type 2 diabetes. A 2009 study in the journal Diabetes Care found that drinking a daily diet soda with sugar substitutes increases the odds of developing type 2 diabetes by 67 percent. Researchers found that the artificially sweetened beverages were associated with higher fasting glucose levels and a greater waist circumference, two risk factors for the disease. It may be because the calorie-free sweeteners increase your desire for sweet foods and/or give you permission to eat more because you’re “saving calories” elsewhere. Don’t miss the silent signs you might have diabetes.

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