Artificial sweeteners satisfy the appetite

The surprising truth about artificial sweeteners

The generations living today have been advised for decades to avoid sugar. But people long for sweet foods. It is inconceivable to remove them from the diet. The solution seemed to be found quickly with artificial sweeteners, with the help of which sweet foods can be consumed without added sugar and thus without calories. You can think of her as the best invention since bread, which, unlike the artificial sweeteners, has a good reputation. Sweeteners are often blamed for all sorts of ailments, from headaches to weight gain to the development of cancer. Is that right and what does that mean for you as an athlete? Do the artificial sweeteners actually have an impact on health, weight and performance?

The history of artificial sweeteners

They first appeared at the end of the 19th century. The arguments about the effects of artificial sweeteners are almost as old. It has been the subject of controversy for almost a hundred years. Unfortunately, politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have not remembered the words of former US President Theodore Roosevelt, with which he referred to idiots as idiots who claim that saccharine is harmful. Over the years, more and more artificial sweeteners have appeared on the market, all of which have sparked further controversy. At first sight, meeting the demand for low-calorie sweet foods was the reason for continued production. There are six sweeteners approved by the FDA in the US market alone:

  • Acesulfame Potassium (Acesulfame K)
  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin
  • Sucralose
  • Neotame
  • Advantame

How safe or dangerous are artificial sweeteners?

For the first time, sweeteners were linked to cancer in the 1970s. In one study, a combination of several sweeteners - including saccharin - caused bladder cancer in laboratory rats. This study was later put into perspective because rats are much more susceptible to this type of cancer in general, and especially when they have an increased intake of vitamin C. In general, the allegations regarding the sweeteners are based on animal experiments and individual case studies in which significantly larger amounts were administered than is recommended for human consumption. The mega-doses that the rats ingested have no demonstrably reasonable relationship to the consumption behavior of the population.
Despite the bad press, US and EU regulators have not taken any of the artificial sweeteners off the market. Extensive medical studies have looked at the alleged health effects, but to date there is no evidence of any links between diseases and the consumption of artificial sweeteners.
That being said, in some rare cases there is evidence of migraines or headaches caused by sweeteners. You can compare it to a food intolerance. Before including artificial sweeteners in your diet, it is advisable to clarify your individual physical reaction and any effects it may have on intense training or competition.

Does a Zero Calorie Sweetener Really Make You Fat?

The average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. That's the equivalent of 350 calories. Originally, sweeteners were developed to curb sugar consumption and help with weight management. If your goal is fat loss, why should the zero calorie sweeteners be responsible for your excess weight?
There are several possible explanations. In some arguments, the consumption of artificial sweeteners has been linked to the urge for extra calories, which is satisfied by additional food intake. This theory probably arose because weight gain often coincides with the consumption of sweeteners. According to research, the feeling of hunger does not change with ingestion and despite a lower total calorie consumption.
Other studies compared the effects of artificial and natural sweeteners when eating freely. They couldn't find any differences in acute and long-term calorie consumption. Several of these studies concluded that the consumption of artificial sweeteners may actually be beneficial for weight loss and improve the control of blood glucose in diabetics.
At this point at the latest it should be clear that the presumed connection between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and an increase in food intake is not based on any scientific basis.

Sweeteners in your supplements

Even if you wanted to, you couldn't remove the artificial sweeteners from your pre-workout drink. The manufacturers use them for flavoring in order to provide a low-calorie and equally tasty product.
It is important for you to know what to supply your body with for optimal performance. Artificial sweeteners are not broken down, as is the case with the natural alternatives. Many of them cannot be used for energy production. They do not provide the nutrients that your body needs during exercise, and they do not make any significant contribution to protein synthesis or to replenishing glycogen stores. Both processes are known to be crucial for successful muscle regeneration after a workout.
Many known artificial sweeteners lower blood sugar levels. Especially in the case of stevia - even in comparison with other sweeteners such as aspartame - a corresponding blood sugar lowering effect has been proven. A constant blood sugar level can be particularly important during longer and more intense exercise in order to prevent loss of performance and limitations in cognitive abilities.
In addition, a low blood sugar level after exercise prevents the insulin activity necessary for regeneration and muscle growth.
A simple solution would be a post-workout shake with around 30 to 50 grams of carbohydrates to maximize the anabolic response. You can easily achieve this with your favorite bar or with a protein shake with approx. 700 ml of low-fat milk. Although they can't help you exercise right away, artificial sweeteners have some beneficial properties. They make your food tastier and can extend the shelf life.

What does it all mean for you?

A excessive Ingestion of natural sweeteners such as fructose or sucrose can have health consequences (weight gain, metabolic diseases, etc.). There are upper limits for artificial sweeteners, although you will hardly reach the maximum permitted daily dose.
The regulations of the licensing authorities ensure that the artificial sweeteners are harmless to humans. For example, aspartame in the US has an ADI of 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day. A consumer who weighs 70 kg can therefore drink almost 20 cans of Diet Coke, each 330 ml, per day without hesitation.

If you do not want to consciously buy and consume tasteless and unsweetened supplements, you cannot avoid artificial sweeteners. Most products with the "no sugar" additives and reduced calorie count are likely to use artificial sweeteners.
Always remember to keep the right amount. There is no reason for you not to eat your favorite candy. As long as you don't overdo it, you can take a bite without a guilty conscience and still achieve your fitness and weight loss goals successfully.

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