Why Splenda Leads to Weight Gain – Even Though It’s Calorie Free

June 10, 2013 | By | 20 Comments

If you’re swapping Splenda for sugar to lose a few pounds, you may be making matters worse according to a new study…

Everyone knows that when you eat more calories than you burn, you pack on the pounds. So, thank goodness for zero-calorie sweeteners such as Splenda, right?

After all, you get that sweet taste of sugar but without the side-effects (i.e. belly fat). For instance, you can pour generous amounts in your coffee and just about everything else and not worry about weight gain.

How perfect?!

But sadly, that’s not the case. Far from it, actually, and a new study proves this. Let’s forget for a moment that artificial sweeteners like sucralose cause cravings – cravings that must eventually be satisfied.

Instead, we’ll focus on a recently discovered mechanism by which Splenda makes you fat: insulin spikes.

A team of researchers at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis recruited 17 obese, non-diabetic subjects to test the effect of sucralose (i.e. Splenda) on insulin secretion. The results were interesting to say the least.

First, these people were given sucralose with 75 grams of glucose. The point was to simulate the eating of a meal with a diet soft drink. A week later they repeated the experiment. But instead of sweetener, the subjects drank water.

What they found was that when sucralose was given with glucose, insulin levels rose 20% more than they did with water. Not only that, but blood sugar levels peaked at a higher level with the artificial sweetener.

So, what’s the take-away here?

If you’re swapping Splenda for sugar in hopes of saving a few pounds you may be shooting yourself in the foot. And while the former may indeed be the better of two (bad) choices – you may be making things worse.

Here’s why…

Most people use zero-calorie products as a weight loss tool. Furthermore, they’re not aware that this can make them fat – even though it lacks calories. As such, they’re likely to indulge even more than they would with the known-to-be-fattening alternative.

In short, more sweetener leads to more insulin spikes which ultimately drive fat storage. To make matters worse, frequent and rapid rises in insulin over time can lead to resistance and eventual diabetes. And that’s a whole other can of worms you don’t want to open.

Given these facts you’d be well served to stay as far away as possible from artificial sweeteners. Furthermore, understand that you can’t have “something for nothing.” In other words, don’t expect to eat something that tastes fattening and not have it be fattening. It’s just not possible (no matter how much the corporate marketing machine tells you it is).

Instead, choose the real thing. Indulge in something sweet from time to time. And take it for what it is: a treat that will lead to weight gain if you overdo it… but perfectly fine in moderation.

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Filed in: Dieting Myths & Mistakes

Comments (20)

  1. Laura McCarthy

    what about truvia?

  2. Ted

    So
    “First, these people were given sucralose with 75 grams of glucose.”
    “A week later they repeated the experiment. But instead of sweetener, the subjects drank water.”

    “What they found was that when sucralose was given with glucose, insulin levels rose 20% more than they did with water.”

    So YOU ARE ACTUALLY TESTING the glucose effect!! So the interesting result you found is by removing 75 grams of glucose the insulin levels DROPPED 20%. So, removing the glucose IS effective!!!

  3. Please comment further on Truvia and why just Stevia. I found Stevia to be bitter. The ingredients on Truvia is Erythritol and Stevia leaf extract. Please explain why you find this sweetener unexceptable?
    It may also be I was using Stevia incorrectly.

    Thanks,

    Walter Hamner and Greg Watts

    PS: we are just starting this way of eating using your books.

    • Hi Walter,

      Stevia/Truvia is the best type of sweetener to use. It’s natural so it doesn’t come with the potential side effects of artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Nutrasweet.

    • Hi Walter,

      Stevia/Truvia is the best type of sweetener to use. It’s natural so it doesn’t come with the potential side effects of artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Nutrasweet.

      • John Vedra

        I thought truvia contains sugar alcohols (ribiana)which is not is not good for you . Getting more confusing ,should we be using Stevia instead of trivia or are both OK trivia contains Ribiana

  4. Tina

    Hi James,

    What about using raw sugar in coffee? Is it still bad for you? I usually drink coffee everyday in the morning. I know I should not be drinking coffee but for some reason I feel it will help wake me up. I always feel tired and hungry in the mornings.

  5. Bentley

    There’s something wrong with this experiment. Why was glucose added? If you want to test Splenda…then they should have only had Splenda. No glucose. Of course glucose raises your glucose levels. Duh! I think we need a different study. I think Splenda causes weight gain too. But this study doesn’t prove it. Sorry.

  6. There’s overwhelming evidence that consuming artificial sweeteners will likely wreak havoc on your body. Previous news has centered mainly around artificial sweeteners’ ability to impair your appetite regulation and leading to weight gain.

  7. Dean Eshelman

    How about Stevia in the raw?

    • Hi Dean,

      Stevia is the best type of sweetener to use. It’s natural so it doesn’t come with the potential side effects of artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Nutrasweet.

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  10. Kristine Kimble

    Can I eat natural peanut butter? Can I eat peanuts? How about natural applesauce?

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