“Artificial Sweeteners” is a blanket term that describes everything from erythritol and sugar alcohols to stevia. They are typically used to reduce the calorie count in beverages we consume on a daily basis. Artificial sweeteners have little to no calories, so they are considered a good alternative when trying to reduce carbohydrate consumption, and can be helpful in maintaining some people’s sanity while in a caloric deficit. If you are actively trying to reduce your sugar consumption, or lose some weight, using artificial sweeteners is a great way to transition away from consuming a lot of sugary foods. Much like sugar, though, artificial sweeteners can change your taste buds, causing naturally sweet foods (fruits), and veggies to be less appealing, and sometimes even unpalatable. There are also different types of artificial sweeteners, which may have different effects, just like the frequency of their consumption might as well.
Stevia comes from a plant, which is what makes it so different from sugar. It is a non-caloric sweetener that has been used in South America to sweeten foods for hundreds of years. Compared to regular sugar, stevia is much sweeter for the same concentration, allowing you to use less of it for the same effect.
Sugar Alcohols comes from a chemical process of breaking down the sugars in fruits and plants. Common sugar alcohols are sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and erythritol. They have very little to no calories, because they are not easily absorbed by the human body. Because of this, they may even have a laxative effect. While sugar alcohols contain less calories, and therefore carbohydrates than regular sugar, there is a misconception that consuming these products won’t have any effect on your blood sugar levels. This is not necessarily the case, and even though these products have less calories, they can still affect blood sugar levels.
Because artificial sweeteners are sweeter than sugar at the same concentration, it means the taste is much stronger in artificially sweetened foods. With some people, this could lead to increased cravings for sweeter foods, leaving us reaching for sweet, non-nutritious foods over nutrient-dense foods like veggies and protein.
The bottom line here is that keeping your consumption of sugar, artificial sweeteners, and natural sweeteners, to a moderate amount daily is key. Too much of anything, even a good thing, is still too much. Prioritize your calories from whole, unprocessed foods, with a sprinkle of these fun and sweet treats, and you should be fine.
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