Why you should ditch artificial sweeteners if you are trying to lose weight

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
Health experts have warned against using sweeteners as a sugar substitute. [Photo: Getty]

Slimmers have long used artificial sweeteners as a weight loss aid, but a new study has found substituting it for sugar may do more bad than good.

Popular sugar alternatives used widely in the UK include Stevia, Splenda, Saccharin, Sucralose and Aspartame. However, a review by the British Medical Journal, which looked at 56 separate studies of these sweeteners, found adults and children who take them do not have significantly better health compared to those who take regular sugar.

It was found children who ate more sugar alternatives than sugar experienced a slightly smaller increase in body mass index. However, the substitution had no effect for adults or children who were trying to lose weight.

Nor did it have any effect on other health factors examined by the researchers including blood sugar, oral health, cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and behaviour.

Artificial sweeteners may also pose a wide range of health risks, nutritional Jenna Hope told Yahoo Style UK.

She says: “Some research suggests that a high consumption of artificial sweeteners may lead to increased risk of neurological diseases.”

They can also affect your digestion and appetite, according to some studies, Hope explains.

“There’s also research to suggest that sugar substitutes may contribute to impaired gut health particularly in individuals with IBS.

“Finally, the research is inconclusive although some suggest that while artificially-sweetened foods are lower in calories they may increase appetite causing you to eat more later, although more research is required in this area.”

Rather than relying on artificially-sweetened ‘slimming’ foods, Hope has suggested some healthier swaps you can make to avoid sweeteners altogether.

Swap low fat yoghurt for the full fat unflavoured kind

You may be tempted to go for low-fat yoghurts – but manufacturers often make up for the lack of fat with sweeteners and thickening agent. Try full fat instead, says Hope.

“Full fat yoghurt can also increase the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Opt for cinnamon and a drizzle of honey instead of the artificially sweetened varieties.”

Ditch artificially-sweetened cordials for a little of the real deal

While sugar-free fruit squash is generally low in calories, it’s also full of sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin, warms Hope.

“Cordial can be swapped for a splash of fresh orange juice which can be added to sparkling water to hit a sweet craving without consuming a large amount of artificial sweeteners or sugar.”

Say no to granola bars

Granola bars are often high in artificial sweeteners, explains Hope. “Opt for a date and nut bar or an apple with peanut butter for a healthier, sweeter treat.”

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