Monday, February 11, 2008

Want to lose weight? Ditch the diet cola!

I've long suspected that diet sodas and other foods sweetened with low/no calorie sweeteners had the opposite effect on those using them to cut calories. Of course there was the cyclamate cancer scare, saccharine has fallen out of vogue and aspartame is linked to everything from migraines to Alzheimer's. But it's all in name of a thinner figure, right? Turns out--maybe not.

My hypothesis was that artificially sweetened foods and beverages trigger that sweet craving without really satisfying it--thus inciting one to eat more. Turns out I was right--sort of. I read an article in the Washington Post which says sugar substitutes may contribute to weight gain by interfering with the mechanism that signals the brain that one is full. According to the story:

That process, she said, involves the body's ability to detect that it will soon be full. "We often will stop eating before we've been able to absorb all of the calories that come from a meal. One of the reasons we might stop eating is that our experience has taught in the past that, 'After I eat this food, I'll feel this full for this long,' " she explained.

It seems to be a subconscious process based on automatic estimations of how much energy certain foods will provide, she said. For example, a sweet taste might be a sign that "calories are coming, and I should prepare my body for the arrival of those calories." However, when the sweetness is not followed by a lot of calories, the body's digestive system gets confused, and the metabolism rate does not gear up as much the next time sweetness is tasted.
Very interesting...


  1. Most interestin', moi doth use Splenda but it ain't to lose weight, just to cut the sugar.

    Moi hast said to WifeyWu "In ten years they'll find-out that Splenda is the best OR worst thing for ya."
    Of course, in ten years moi should be dead.
    "Being dead," talk about an oxymoron.

    Stay on groovin' safari,

  2. Tor,

    I also drink sodas sweetened with Splenda on occasion. It's the only low-cal product I use--I have insulin dependent diabetes and would rather not have to inject when I want to indulge in some carbonation.

    Splenda is actually derived from sugar. I think they remove a molecule or two. So hopefully it's not as bad as aspartame. In any case, it's wise to avoid processed foods as much as possible.