Do Artificial Sweeteners Lead to Weight Gain?

Note: It’s habit change season! Last year, we did an entire five-post series on creating change in the New Year. If you’ve got a resolution you’re trying to keep, those short posts contain all our wisdom about habits and sustainable change.

Many of you will be kicking off the New Year looking to make diet changes, and an easy place to start is by looking at how much sugar you consume. 

One of the first things people often choose is to replace the sugar in their diet with an artificial sweetener, like aspartame or sucralose. These are considered to be non-nutritive sweeteners, and on the surface, they seem like an easy win: just replace sugar with sweetener, and you reduce your caloric load. Done!

Not so fast. Research is confirming what was already suspected about artificial sweeteners: they disrupt the gut microbiome of healthy people and impair their glucose tolerance. Or, put more simply: sweeteners might add to the very problems we’re trying to solve, like weight gain and insulin resistance.

How can a calorie-free sweetener lead to weight gain?

Sweeteners have always been considered “inert,” meaning they pass through the body and aren’t absorbed by the small intestine. But researchers are discovering that the sweeteners can actually travel into the colon and change the composition of the flora in susceptible people. That, in turn, can trigger abnormal blood glucose levels. 

What about stevia?

Stevia is a plant-based sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant. It is also considered a non-nutritive sweetener, but is it safer than its chemical cousins? The jury is still out, but this article will give you some factors to consider. 

Can I test my gut health?

Testing the microbiome is becoming more and more common as we discover just how big a role your gut bacteria play in overall health.  Here at StoneTree, we use a number of tests, including GI MAP. To learn more, contact us anytime.