Aspartame, Sucralose and Acelulfame K are the most popular artificial sweeteners. They are calorie free and “diabetes safe”, as they leave the blood sugar unaffected. These sweeteners are included in many “sugar free” products including diet/health bars,”sugar free” chocolate, diet soda and so forth. They are often used together with sugar alcohols. A sugar alcohol contains both calories and carbohydrates. Examples of these are Sorbitol and Xylitol. They end with -ol. They lower the pH in your mouth and is therefor considered to be “good” for your teeth. That’s why you find them in sugar free chewing gums. Ethandiol and Erythritol are other examples used in pastries, such as sugar free cheesecake for example.
All products containing artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are labeled “Sugar Free”!
Sugar alcohols have a very volatile nature, which is why they don’t stay in the blood stream for very long. This is why they don’t affect the blood sugar as much as other sugars. If you’re counting carbs, cut the sugar alcohols by half. It means that 10g sugar alcohols equals 5g carbohydrates, approximately. Be careful if the number of carbohydrates are suspiciously low on the label. Look for other names such as “dietary fiber”. If you want to be ketogenic, count everything!
But how about Aspartame, Sucralose and Acesulfame K, aren’t they un-digestible?
Well… let me do some reversed engineering!
What’s in sweetened light products? The sweeteners, a bunch of chemicals and a couple of acids. Mostly phosphoric acid. The sweet taste is affecting the brain directly when the sweet taste receptors on the tongue are activated. Sweet taste is sweet even if it’s artificially produced. When the tongue detects the sweet taste, it signals to the body that more sweet stuff are on its way. Small amounts of insulin are then being released, even before the food reaches the stomach. If there’s no actual carbs, just a bunch of chemicals, we will experience a drop in blood sugar. It will eventually make us hungry or give us cravings for more sweet tasting things.
Artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame affects the serotonin levels in the brain, influencing our mood and behavior. It inhibits our sense of fullness, thus making us eat more than we need or want. This is especially true if we drink diet soda to a meal, compared to a glass of water.
Acids like phosphoric acid and citric acid are tampering with our metabolism via the citric acid cycle. Artificially produced citric acid doesn’t come from a citrus fruit, but grown from mold. Many people with allergies are experiencing a worsening of their allergy symptoms, when consuming products with artificial citric acid.
How are you reacting to “sugar free” products with artificial sweeteners? Do you get cravings or does it trigger you to over-eat? If you experience increased hunger or cravings, it means that your body and brain reacts to the sweet taste. Personally I seem to tolerate diet coke pretty well, as I experience the taste as bitter rather than sweet. But I don’t drink it for the same reason I don’t drink random chemicals. Best thing is to avoid anything unnatural, especially unnaturally sweet, as it won’t promote a healthy behavior. As soon as I eat “sugar free” bars, low carb candy and stuff like that I turn into a monster craving more and more! One thing I CAN’T stand is Atkins and Questbars! They are forever banned in my home 🙂
- Sweet taste receptor signaling in beta cells mediates fructose-induced potentiation of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion