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The majority of the supplements you consume these days contain some form of artificial sweetener. Whether it’s a protein powder, a pre workout, a fat burner or an intra workout, they will often always be artificially sweetened with one of the main sweeteners on the market including:

  • Aspartame
  • Acesulfame Potassium
  • Sucralose

There are plenty more sugar substitutes around, but the above three are some of the more common ones. As most artificial sweeteners are calorie free or extremely low calorie, they’re often suggested by doctors and other professionals as a key to supporting weight and fat loss. However, this might not be the case and the consistent use of artificial sweeteners might just be doing the opposite and making you fatter.

Artificial Sweeteners Increasing Hunger

A recent study by Neely et al examined the observed phenomenon of increased caloric consumption with chronic sucralose intake. In other words, eat more sucralose leads to eating more food. The study examined both fruit flys and mice and fed them a diet that was laced with the artificial sweetener sucralose for a prolonged period of time (5-7 days). Upon giving them naturally sweetened foods, both sets of animals were found to increased their consumption of these foods by up to 30%.

It was discovered that what was happening was that there was a mismatch between the detection of sweetness and energy content. As a result, calorie containing foods (especially sweet ones) began tasting better and the desire and appetite for these foods increased.

The researchers also found that chronic consumption of artificial sweeteners could result in:

  • Increased hyperactivity
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep disturbances

Practical Applications

So it seems that there is potential for chronic consumption of artificial sweeteners such as sucralose to cause increased calorie intake. This can hamper your weight loss or fat loss efforts. However it doesn’t mean that you can’t have any. A protein shake or two a day as well as a pre workout or fat burner here and there is not going to cause you to start gorging on every single sweet thing you see. In terms of best practice, here are some tips you can follow:

  1. Get most of your nutrition from wholefoods as much as possible such as vegetables, fruits and lean meats.
  2. Limit your intake of artificially sweetened or sugar free foods and beverages to 2-3 serves/day
  3. Give yourself a break from artificial sweeteners every 4-6 weeks
  4. Try naturally sweetened supplements such as those made with stevia or unsweetened supplements. You can find plenty of these in our Natural Protein Powders section for example.

Neely G et al. ‘Sucralose promotes food intake through NPY and a neuronal fasting response.’ Cell Metabolism. 2016 Jul: 24(1): 75-90.

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