The argument on the use of sugar free for weight loss often falls on two extreme sides of the table, either it is said to be good for weight loss or is said to cause weight gain and harm gut health. Is sugar free good for weight loss then? Possessing few side-effects, you can consider these products to an extent but there are other healthy sugar substitutes that you can choose from a selection.
Artificial sweeteners are sugar substitutes for weight loss. They are much more sweeter than sugar and are needed in less amounts, hence, you end up consuming zero to minimal calories. Saccharin, the first artificial sweetener was welcomed by the consumers with open arms. It proved supportive for both diabetic patients and those who wanted to lose weight.
The delicious food that you eat interacts with the taste receptors on your tongue. These taste receptors reside in your taste buds and upon meeting the food molecules detect its taste like sweet, spicy, salty, sour or bitter. The taste receptors recognise the sweet flavor of the sweeteners and send signals to the brain. Even though these sugar substitutes are registered as sweet as sugar, they are not broken down into calories by the body or are broken down in a limited capacity and hence, do not add to the overall calorie count of the food item you’re eating.
With low or no caloric value, sugar alternatives for weight loss do work successfully for people. For those of us who love an evening dessert or a soft drink with every meal, sugar-free products could help save some extra calories. They don’t undergo the same metabolization as table sugar and still keep the goodness of desserts intact. Studies prove that replacing soft drinks with their sugar-free variants can reduce the BMI by up to 1.3-1.7 kg/m2.
Though just saving up calories by using artificial sweeteners can never be the ultimate solution to weight loss, it has to be balanced with an overall low-caloric diet. If you end up consuming a high-calorie food item, for instance something fried, you’ll cut down all your efforts that you made by replacing table sugar with sugar-free for weight loss.
Other than using sugar-free for weight loss, there are other advantages and disadvantages associated with it –
1. Controls blood sugar – Artificial sweeteners are used in a lesser amount than table sugar and possess no calories which controls the hike in blood sugar and is highly beneficial for diabetic individuals.
2. Improves dental health – Dental cavities or tooth decay are less likely to occur when you consume artificial sweetener because they don’t react with the bacteria in your mouth in the same way as sugar does.
3. Offers taste with versatile use – The fact that artificial sweeteners articulate sweetness in both lesser amount and calories than sugar proves how the taste is achieved while salvaging health. You can use them in baking and cooking at home and most often find them in the processed and canned food in your kitchen like soft drinks, candies and jams.
1. Disrupts gut health – Sugar-free products manipulate the proportion of good bacteria in the gut, causing problems like metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and weakened immune system.
2. Causes metabolic syndrome – An unhealthy combination of disorders like high cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high blood sugar causes strokes, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases which can further increase due to the consumption of sugar substitutes.
3.Digestive issues – Bloating, gastric trouble and diarrhea are problems that you might face if the artificial sweeteners begin to collect in your gastrointestinal tract.
4.Weight Gain – Does sugar-free increase weight? Yes, it can. Craving for sweets and the increased feeling of hunger happens because your brain has a reward system and expects a certain amount of calories when it detects sweetness and when you consume sugar-free for weight loss, a mismatch happens.
If you’re looking forward to using sugar-free products for weight loss, it is important that you maintain a balanced diet. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats must be on your plate as well. When you rely on consuming milk and fruits that have natural sugars, it limits the use of artificial sweeteners by itself and also adds health benefits to your diet. Though sugar alternatives for weight loss have their own set of disadvantages, you must also consider that the ill effects depend on the consumption pattern and existing health conditions as well.
If you don’t consume it daily and control its usage, you wouldn’t have to face the side effects. At the same time, if you have any health conditions, consider talking to a nutritionist or a doctor before you begin your dose of artificial sweeteners. It is also advised not to provide these sweeteners or any products they are used in to children below the age of two.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) allowed for six artificial sweeteners to be used in India, like saccharin sodium, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, neotame, and isomaltulose with each of them having their own limitations and guidelines.
In May 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) had released a new guideline against the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) to control body weight or reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
FSSAI dealt with this matter by stating that it would look into the effects of non-sugar sweeteners according to the Indian population with an expert panel before making any conclusions.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) classified aspartame as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Though there is limited evidence on humans and experimental animals, even FSSAI is undergoing a scientific study to recognise its impact on the Indian population and stands disputed on this claim.
For regular use, you could rely on these alternative sweeteners –
1. Some natural sweeteners include honey, maple syrup, date paste and agave nectar.
2. Stevia is another natural sweetener and is sourced from the plant, stevia rebaudiana. It leads to weight loss and reduces blood sugar levels but can be harmful to the gut for some people.
3. Erythritol and xylitol are sugar alcohols, a type of carbohydrate derived from fruits and vegetables.
4. Natural extracts like those of vanilla add a sweet taste to many desserts without adding extra calories.
5. Monk fruit sweetener extracted from the monk fruit has zero calories and minimal effect on blood sugar levels, though it is also used in a combination with other sweeteners.
6. Applesauce and other fruit purées work as great sweetening ingredients in desserts and offer multiple nutritional benefits too. However, if you choose to buy these from the store, make sure they don’t have any artificial sweeteners added in them.
Good for low calorie count and weight loss, artificial sweeteners possess their own set of side effects as well. If consumed in moderation, these sugar substitutes for weight loss are likely to cause no harm to your health. Figure out which of these sugar alternatives for weight loss work best for you and save your body from storing any extra calories!
Artificial sweeteners are sweeter than sugar and are used in a lesser amount. With a low caloric profile and an ability to control blood sugar levels, they contribute to weight loss.
You might go through hunger pangs and cravings because your brain desires a certain amount of calories corresponding to the sweetness. When it doesn’t get that, overeating usually takes place leading to potential weight gain.
Setting a weight loss goal with short-term use of artificial sweeteners is legitimate but using these substitutes for sugar for weight loss in the long run can cause consistent cravings, insulin resistance and weight gain.
Yes, there are natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, sugar alcohols, fruit purées and natural extracts that can be alternatives to artificial sweeteners for weight loss.
Natural sweeteners are healthier than both artificial sweeteners and sugar because they contain small amounts of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. However, natural sweeteners have their share of calories so they might not be the best option when trying to lose weight. Intaking artificial sweeteners in moderation and balancing it with natural sweeteners while eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains could give you the perfect balanced diet for weight loss.
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