Contributed by: Ciara Floyd, M.S., NSCF-CPT, NSCA-CSCS

Artificial sweeteners are chemicals added to food and drinks to make them sweet.  These sweeteners are used as a substitute for sugar.  Some common names for artificial sweeteners are sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin.  Although using these products in place of sugar can help decrease the amount of your sugar and total caloric intake, there is evidence that consuming artificial sweeteners may not help you lose weight and may have negative implications on your health.

One of the common uses of artificial sweeteners is in diet sodas.  Many people drink diet sodas as an alternative to regular sodas and juices in an effort to decrease their intake of “empty calories” from sugar found in these beverages.  While drinking diet sodas can help decrease your “empty calorie” intake, there is some evidence that people who drink more diet sodas often compensate by eating a larger amount of calories from other food sources.

One other concern with artificial sweeteners is the effect they can have on your digestive system.  Saccharin, a common artificial sweetener, can disrupt the good bacteria in your stomach.  Therefore, anyone looking to use artificial sweeteners in place of sugar should be cautious and aware of the effects these sweeteners have on your body as well as what other foods you are eating along with the artificially sweetened beverages or food.

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