Do Synthetic Sweeteners Make You Crave Sweets?

Do Synthetic Sweeteners Make You Crave Sweets?

Synthetic sweeteners appear to be a godsend for shedding pounds.

Earlier than their invention, the one strategy to fulfill your candy tooth was to devour sugar, sweet, soda, and different calorie-containing confections.

Because of the creation of synthetic sweeteners like acesulfame potassium, aspartame, and sucralose, although, you will get your saccharine repair with out the energy (and thus reduce weight extra simply). 

That’s the concept, anyway, however some individuals declare that synthetic sweeteners not directly stymie weight reduction by making you crave sweets. As a substitute of satisfying, they are saying, synthetic sweeteners create an itch that may solely be scratched by consuming sugary, calorie-rich meals. 

Who’s proper? 

On this article you’ll be taught what synthetic sweeteners are, the names of the six synthetic sweeteners which were authorised by the FDA, and whether or not or not synthetic sweeteners make us crave actual sugar or not. 

What Are Synthetic Sweeteners?

Synthetic sweeteners, also referred to as “sugar substitutes” or “high-intensity sweeteners,” are chemical substances which can be added to meals to make it style candy and usually have few or no energy. 

Due to their chemical make-up, synthetic sweeteners are far sweeter than desk sugar (as much as 20,000 occasions sweeter) which suggests you solely want to make use of a really small quantity to realize an identical degree of sweetness as sugar.

Synthetic sweeteners will be labeled into two classes: Nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners. Nutritive sweeteners comprise energy, whereas non-nutritive sweeteners comprise few or no energy.

Meals that generally comprise synthetic sweeteners are:

  • Baked items
  • Sweet
  • Canned meals
  • Cereals
  • Dairy merchandise
  • Powdered dietary dietary supplements
  • Puddings
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces
  • Tender drinks
  • Chewing gum

Authorised Synthetic Sweeteners Listing

The names of the six synthetic sweeteners which were authorised by the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) are:

  1. Advantame: Advantame is roughly 20,000 occasions sweeter than sugar and comprises no energy.
  2. Acesulfame potassium: Acesulfame potassium is included on ingredient lists as acesulfame Ok, acesulfame potassium, or Ace-Ok, and is offered below the model names Sunett and Candy One. It’s round 200 occasions sweeter than sugar, comprises no energy, and is commonly mixed with different sweeteners.
  3. Aspartame: Aspartame model names embrace Nutrasweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin. It’s about 200 occasions sweeter than sugar and comprises 4 energy per gram.
  4. Neotame: Neotame is offered below the model title Newtame, is 7,000-to-13,000 occasions sweeter than sugar, and comprises no energy.
  5. Saccharin: Saccharin model names embrace Candy and Low, Candy Twin, Candy’N Low, and Necta Candy. It’s 200-to-700 occasions sweeter than sugar and comprises no energy.
  6. Sucralose: Sucralose is offered below the model title Splenda, is about 600 occasions sweeter than sugar, and comprises no energy.

Do Synthetic Sweeteners Make You Crave Sweets? 

As a result of synthetic sweeteners comprise few to no energy, many individuals assume that they’re a savvy strategy to sate your style buds with out derailing your weight loss plan.

And whereas this may be true (a number of research present that folks lose extra weight after they change sugary fare with artificially sweetened options), there’s some proof that consuming synthetic sweeteners too typically could make you crave calorie-rich sweets.

To elucidate why this could be the case, we should begin with a spot of evolutionary biology.

As a result of candy meals are typically a superb supply of power for our our bodies, we developed a “reward system” that makes us take pleasure in consuming them.

This reward system known as the mesolimbic dopamine system, and it works by releasing a burst of the hormone dopamine into our our bodies at any time when we eat sugar. This dopamine makes the expertise pleasurable, and tells us that we should always do it once more as a result of it’s vital for our survival.

Nonetheless, analysis exhibits that synthetic sweeteners don’t activate our reward system in the identical approach that sugar does as a result of they don’t ship the healthy dose of power (energy) the physique expects from one thing so candy. 

Which means at any time when we devour meals or drinks sweetened by synthetic sweeteners, our brains are tricked into considering that we want to devour extra energy (typically from calorie-dense, sugary meals) to satisfy our power calls for.

A salient instance of this comes from a research performed by scientists on the College of Southern California wherein 74 individuals attended three experimental periods: one after they consumed an artificially-sweetened drink, one the place they consumed a sugar-sweetened drink, and one the place they drank water.

After consuming every drink, the individuals checked out photos of high-calorie meals whereas the researchers used purposeful MRI (fMRI) scans to measure exercise within the components of the mind related to urge for food and meals cravings. The researchers additionally measured the individuals’ blood sugar, insulin, and metabolic hormone ranges.

On the finish of every session, the researchers gave the individuals entry to a buffet and recorded how a lot every participant ate.

The outcomes confirmed that . . .

  1. Consuming artificially sweetened drinks elevated exercise in areas of the mind related to urge for food and cravings greater than consuming a sugar-sweetened drink did, notably in feminine and overweight individuals.
  2. Ranges of metabolic hormones that inform your physique you’re full decreased after consuming an artificially sweetened drink in contrast with a sugar-sweetened drink.
  3. Consuming an artificially sweetened drink elevated the quantity girls (however not males) ate on the buffet.

What’s extra, analysis exhibits that often consuming sweets could enhance the mind’s tolerance to sweetness, and strengthen your choice for candy meals. In response to this concept, whereas consuming sweet-tasting meals could fulfill your cravings within the short-term, it magnifies them in the long run.

Thus, you possibly can see why many individuals consider that consuming synthetic sweeteners could encourage you to devour extra of the true McCoy.

Nonetheless, no evaluation of the analysis can be full with out trying on the counterarguments—and sadly for the artificial-sweeteners-cause-cravings crowd, their concept has some holes.

For instance, a number of research present that consuming synthetic sweeteners doesn’t make you devour extra energy later, nor does it make you search sugary, calorie-dense meals. One research particularly discovered that consuming artificially sweetened drinks lowered cravings for desserts greater than consuming water.


It’s additionally debatable whether or not consuming candy meals will increase your choice for candy meals. Whereas it is sensible given what we find out about how consuming salt or fats can enhance our choice for salty, fatty meals, little direct proof exists displaying the identical is true for sugar.

As an illustration, one research performed by scientists on the College of Bristol confirmed that the extra kids drank orangeade, the extra they loved it. Nonetheless, these findings weren’t replicated when the identical take a look at was performed with adults.

Lastly, there are query marks over the standard of the analysis on the results of synthetic sweeteners on cravings. 

Some research had been performed utilizing animals reminiscent of flies and mice, which you’ll’t essentially extrapolate to people. Others are to date faraway from real-life conditions that it’s uncertain how related they’re in follow.

As an illustration, one research had individuals drink a Sprite whereas answering questions on shampoo after which describe the packaging on a bottle of water, gum, and M&M’s. One other research had individuals scent and have a look at their favourite meals for 4 minutes whereas answering questions on their household family tree, whereas a researcher positioned a cotton swab of their mouth that was “impregnated” with the flavour of the meals they had been taking a look at. Not precisely how most individuals go about their mealtimes. 

So, do synthetic sweeteners make you crave sweets? 

The quick reply is . . . perhaps, nevertheless it’s in all probability not sufficient to make you overeat or achieve weight. 

If that is one thing you’re involved about or it’s confirmed to be a difficulty for you up to now, attempt lowering or eliminating your consumption of synthetic sweeteners and see how you’re feeling. In case your cravings ebb (and this was the one factor you modified about your weight loss plan), go away synthetic sweeteners out of your weight loss plan sooner or later, and in the event that they don’t, then don’t fear about it.

And in the event you presently devour artificially sweetened meals and drinks whereas weight-reduction plan, and discover they’re a helpful “candy deal with” that helps you resist calorie-dense options, then by all means proceed (analysis additionally exhibits this could be an inexpensive technique for sticking to your weight loss plan).

FAQ #1: Are synthetic sweeteners unhealthy for you?

Most of the claims about synthetic sweeteners contributing to weight achieve, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, most cancers, complications, and seizures are overblown. 

Nonetheless, whereas synthetic sweeteners might not be as harmful as some individuals say, research present that often consuming them could also be dangerous to our well being.

If you wish to sweeten your meals with one thing that’s low in energy, protected, and sugar-free, your finest choices are stevia, erythritol, and luo han guo fruit extracts.

A number of research present that they’re not solely protected however also can confer a number of well being advantages, together with higher insulin sensitivity, a decrease ldl cholesterol profile, improved blood glucose management, potential anti-cancer results, decrease blood stress and irritation ranges, and extra.

Mainly, in the event you’re in any respect frightened concerning the well being results of synthetic sweeteners, you possibly can simply sidestep any points by utilizing a pure different. 

FAQ #2: Synthetic Sweeteners vs. Sugar: Which is healthier?

Synthetic sweeteners and sugar aren’t inherently “unhealthy,” which suggests neither is inherently “higher” than the opposite.

That stated, analysis on the risks of synthetic sweeteners isn’t at all times clear reduce, and there are some causes to consider it’s best to decrease the quantity of synthetic sweeteners you devour.

Sugar, then again, could be very properly studied and poses little in the best way of a well being danger when consumed carefully.

Thus, it’s in all probability finest to go for sugary meals over artificially sweetened meals more often than not (particularly in the event you’re consuming pure sugars present in meals like fruit 😉), and hold any artificially sweetened indulgences to a minimal.

FAQ #3: Can you purchase protein powder with out synthetic sweeteners?


Legion’s Whey+, Casein+, and Plant+ protein powders are all naturally sweetened with stevia and erythritol.

If you need a mouth-watering, high-protein, low-calorie protein powder that’s free from any chemical junk, attempt Whey+, Casein+, or Plant+ at the moment.

Oh, and in the event you aren’t certain if Whey+, Casein+, and Plant+ are best for you or if one other complement could be a greater match in your price range, circumstances, and targets, then take the Legion Complement Finder Quiz! In lower than a minute, it’ll let you know precisely what dietary supplements are best for you. Click on right here to test it out.

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