How artificial sweeteners could make us eat more

According to a new study artificial sweeteners could increase hunger by making the brain believe we are starving:

Scientific American: How Artificial Sweeteners May Cause Us to Eat More

A vast body of research suggests that sugar substitutes, despite having far fewer calories than sugar itself, can wreak various forms of metabolic havoc such as upping diabetes risk and — perhaps paradoxically — causing weight gain in the long term.

The actual studies referred to were done using flies and mice, so the relevance for humans is not certain. But it matches several studies on humans showing for example that women lose weight by giving up drinking diet sodas.

Does this make you motivated to throw out the diet soda (if you haven’t already)?

Earlier about artificial sweeteners

How to Lose Weight #9: Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

Study: Avoiding Diet Beverages Helps Women Lose Weight

Another Reason to be Sceptical of Artificial Sweeteners

Is Stevia Natural?

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  1. Andi
    I'm sad about giving up artificial sweeteners, so at this point I'm not. I like them in coffee and soda. I don't drink soda very often but I do drink coffee daily. I have given up artificial sweeteners in tea. I feel like I have given up enough (bread, tortillas, corn chips, pasta, beans) that I'm not interested in giving up artificial sweeteners at this time. I will however be aware of this issue and consider it for myself in the future. Low carb makes overeating easy to avoid for me.
  2. Rachel
    I'm with you, Andi. I read the above article while happily sipping on my diet Pepsi (a rare treat). For making the occasional treat, I use Swerve (erythritol) to lightly sweeten my LCHF dessert. The pleasure these chemicals bring me currently outweigh their negatives. If my weight loss stalls, or if my cravings increase, I'll consider banning them.
  3. Bob Niland
    Natural sweeteners are a spectrum ranging from monosaccharides like glucose and fructose, through increasingly complex carbohydrates, some of which, like inulin, don't usually provoke BG at all, and are useful prebiotic fiber.

    Artificial sweeteners are lab synthetics. This study only looked at one of them (sucralose), and has the additional limitations of fruit flies and mice as subjects. Let's presume for the sake of discussion that the effect they discovered is true for any sweetener not metabolized to glucose (and I won't be surprised if this is broadly correct).

    The issue then becomes dietary context. On a typical full-time glycemic diet, the brain may well be figuring out that it's been fed a lie. But what happens on an LCHF diet where the consumer is at least partially fat-adapted, and the food is actually nutrient-rich (from fat and perhaps protein). Brain gets the ketone bodies, and a slow rate of glucose, to keep it happy, and may not feel lied to.

    My family has been using stevia, xylitol, erythritol, inulin and more rarely monk fruit as sweeteners, and has not experienced any appetite provocation; quite the opposite really. But then we're on a borderline keto diet, and the sweeteners we use aren't sucralose, and what they are may metabolize to SCFAs. Food for thought. says the brain.

    Reply: #11
  4. Dave
    Surely an important question (that I haven't seen addressed) is do artificial sweeteners trigger an insulin response?
    Lots in indirect stuff, and assumptions being drawn, but a simple test would be insulin response to sucrose/fructose sweetened water versus artificially sweetened water.
    Reply: #5
  5. Bob Niland
    re: …do artificial sweeteners trigger an insulin response?

    It appears so, in which case the question becomes how significant is it in terms of level, duration and now, endocrine signalling.

    For the alternative, nominally natural sweeteners, you need to search on each one by name, such as "stevia insulin response".

    Reply: #6
  6. Tor H
    Well it seems as they raise insulin just as much as sugar, but lasts longer:!po=36.1538

    Better to drink water, coffee and other non-sweetened drinks.

    Reply: #9
  7. Rachel
    Erythritol appears to not impact insulin.
    Reply: #8
  8. Tor H
    Interesting. I was suspecting that it was the swwet taste that trigged the insulin response, but then erythritol would raise it just as much as the others.

    What raises the insulin in stevia and aspartame then?

    Thx for the link :)

  9. Bob Niland
    Tor, thanks for that linked paper. The rises in both BG and insulin during the preload period are not terribly informative, because the subjects didn't just consume sweetener (tea, crackers, cheese). What probably drove the spikes was the crackers. Cheese can also have an insulinotrophic effect in some people. So if we're looking for a study of BG and insulin response to various sweeteners, this isn't it.

    They did claim, however: "When consuming stevia and aspartame preloads, participants did not compensate by eating more at either their lunch or dinner meal and reported similar levels of satiety compared to when they consumed the higher calorie sucrose preload."

  10. Tor H
    True, but the sweeteners group should have less of an insulin spike then as they ate less insulin raising carbohydrates and it would last just as long as the sugar group, not longer.
  11. Tamara Maleevsky
    I sometimes use stevia and/or xylitol, and I've never had any side effects like craving for more food. After being on Atkins for a year and loosing 21 kg - I cannot tolerate too much sweetness anyway, even if it is "safe" - natural that is.
  12. 1 comment removed
  13. artificial sweetener side effects
    If you do see someone drinking a Pepsi max or coke zero, refrain from telling them that it’s going to give them cancer, that they are drinking pesticides and that they are fuelling their sugar addiction still. Because it’s not… In fact, I would much rather my private weight loss clients drink a NNS drink than give in to a sugar-filled soda and add empty calories in to their diet.

  14. Lorletha
    I don't think the sweetener study was of much benefit since much of the food consumed was of non low carb variety and would have increased the insulin response on their own.

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