Avoid Artificial Sweeteners!Last Updated: March 18, 2019
Diet sodas and sugar free snacks are one of the most popular snacks for those trying to lose weight. What's not to love? They taste sweet without adding calories to your careful diet. It's like a dream come true!
Unfortunately, the science is in on the effects of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, and all is not as it seems. No, it's not cancer: it's the effects on your appetite.
Affects on Your Appetite
Studies have shown that when you eat foods and drinks with artificial sweeteners, you actually just whet your appetite for sweets. Bodies are smarter than we give them credit for: when they taste something sweet, but don't get the calories expected from the sugar, they feel like they're experiencing a deficiency, and kick up our appetite.
That's right: eating or drinking artificial sweeteners may slay your sugar craving, but they'll increase your appetite! Which means unless you are incredibly strict about how much food you eat every meal, you'll probably end up eating more than you would if you hadn't drunk that diet soda or had that sugar-free cupcake.
And it's not always an equivalent exchange: some studies that tested those that drank diet soda and non-diet soda without controlling for food portions showed that those that drank diet actually ended up gaining more weight!
Makes Dieting Harder
You might be thinking that you can just be strict about your portion control and overcome that, right?
The problem is that it actually makes you hungrier. As if suffering through a diet wasn't bad enough already! Artificial sweeteners just make it more likely for you to slip up and cheat during that crucial moment of deciding on a bag of chips, or an extra apple.
Over time, it even alters the preferences of your tastes! Dr. Ludwig's research on artificially sweetened beverages reinforced the idea that diet sodas can over time make us find healthy foods less palatable, so that we crave sweets more and find non-sweet food less satisfying. It's no surprise that it's so hard to stick to diets when supposedly guilt-free snacks have such subversive effects as that!
What to Do Instead
The best way to fight the hunger pangs and sugar cravings that make dieting so hard is to eat smaller, more nutritious meals that take longer to digest. Food that's high in protein like eggs, fiber-rich vegetables and fruits like lettuce and apples, and nuts and seeds make great mini-meals to help smooth out the hunger pangs. For full meals, a chicken salad is a great way to fill up without overloading on simple carbs like white bread or pasta or potatoes.
Remember, the most important part of any diet is calorie intake versus calories burned. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, and it doesn't matter if you eat 500 calories in a chicken salad or a slice of cheesecake: it's easiest to stick to your diet when you're full and satisfied, and despite all the calories in the cheesecake, it does little to curb your hunger and satisfy your body's needs.