Artificial Sweeteners and Insulin
In this video we try to answer the question
Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause Insulin Release?
Another question I get all the time, especially
on forums on intermittent fasting, is
Do artificial sweeteners break your fast?
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Artificial sweeteners are used in such small quantities that they don’t increase calorie intake.
However, they react with receptors
on the tongue to give people the sensation
of tasting something sweet without the calories associated with natural sweeteners, such as
table sugar. Artificial sweeteners taste like glucose or fructose,
but are chemically totally different.
Let’s take a look at the possible positive
For a lot of people (like me) drinking artificially
sweetened soda helps in the weight loss effort,
by making you snack less in between meals.
This is partly due to less cravings and partly
to the filling up effect of the volume of
the sweet tasting soda.
So what about epidemiological data that has
demonstrated an association between artificial
sweetener use and weight gain?
In interpreting such studies, it is critical
to consider the conditions required to support
causality, including the strength of the association,
consistency in findings, etc. Based on these
criteria, causality is far from established
with regard to artificial sweetener use and
Artificial sweetener intake is likely to be
an indicator for other variables.
For example, people choosing diet soda’s
tend to eat unhealthy processed junk foods
more, than people never drinking diet soda’s.
Another possibility, the decision to consume
artificial sweeteners is often made by individuals
who are concerned about their weight in an
effort to reduce their caloric intake. So
it could be that overweight people drink more
diet soda in stead of regular soda, once they
decide they want to lose weight, which is
actually a good decision.
What are the possible negative effects?
Gut flora disturbances,
the promotion of psychological dependencies
unknown long term safety issues,
and of course the negative effect of the acids
in the sodas on the teeth.
So do artificial sweeteners have a insulinogenic effect?
Do they cause insulin release?
Will they break your fast?
Artificial sweeteners is not a monolithic entity.
There are multiple types of sweeteners,
all of them chemically distinct from each other.
A more useful question would be “What
effect does one specific artificial sweetener
have on insulin?” So let’s take a closer
Does Aspartame affect insulin?
Research seems to suggest little, if any,
effect on insulin secretion as a result of
tasting or consuming aspartame.
Does Saccharin affect insulin?
The evidence for saccharin’s effect on insulin
is mixed, but either way,
it doesn’t appear to have too big of an impact in real world terms.
Does Acesulfame Potassium affect insulin?
Acesulfame Potassium appears to affect insulin
levels, although this effect has only been
shown in contrived settings – either in
the presence of glucose in isolated cells
(in vitro), in isolated cells without glucose
(in vitro), or by direct transfusions without
the presence of glucose (in vivo).
We haven’t seen people orally taking Acesulfame Potassium in a fasted state and having an insulin response.
Does Sucralose affect insulin?
There’s not much if any evidence that sucralose
has an independent in vivo effect on insulin.
Does Stevia affect insulin?
Stevia’s effect on insulin can only be postulated,
because available study results are preliminary
and need to be validated with larger quality
human studies. It may be wise to use stevia
sweetener in moderation, just like most zero-
or low-calorie sweeteners.
Recently, a review of in vivo studies concluded
that “low-energy sweeteners” do not have
any of the effects on insulin, appetite, or
blood glucose predicted by “in vitro, in
situ, or knockout studies in animals.”
According to the literature there isn’t
an appreciable insulin effect from most sweeteners.
Let’s conclude this video by saying that
in theory artificial sweeteners in fairly
limited quantities will not cause health issues.
However, not all are created equal, and they
can exert different effects.
Is it going to make a huge difference?
Still, probably best not to make it your
primary liquid of choice.
As always, the poison is in the dose.
And as always, I’d love to hear about your
personal experiences with artificial sweeteners,
especially regarding their effect on your
weight loss efforts, insulin levels, appetite,
and dietary success or failures. Let me know
in the comment section.