Artificial Sweeteners - Glycemic Risk?

by Kouj
(Buffalo, NY)

Visitor Question: Are they bad actors??

Lifetime Fat Loss Answers:

So you're wondering whether artificial sweeteners are high glycemic. Great question! There are two basic types of sweeteners: nutritive and non- nutritive. Nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners both have a sweet taste but only the nutritive provide energy and are made from plants identified as food substances.

Artificial sweeteners are in the non-nutritive camp. I don't know if you could call them "bad actors" as far as the glycemic response because they are neutral in that regard. Nutritionally, however, I cannot recommend the use of synthetic sugar substitutes. Nobody knows what the long term affects are! They are made from coal tar derivatives (saccharin,) chlorinated sugar compounds (sucralose) and in the case of aspartame it contains phenylalanine which is converted to formaldehyde in the body. All have been tested safe and are approved by the FDA.

These non-nutritive sweeteners, artificial sweeteners are neutral in their glycemic impact because they are not sugars nor are they carbohydrates. They do not generally cause a glycemic response unless they are combined with a sugar or carbohydrate.

Sucralose is marketed as Splenda and under the Splenda brand name it is mixed with the high glycemic preservatives, maltodextrins or dextrose. These DO raise your blood sugar and need to be avoided! So Splenda is high glycemic.

When it comes to sweeteners it's best to stick to the low glycemic, nutritive sweeteners. There are many on the market now. You don't have to worry about the health implications because they are food substances. You can even buy sodas made with stevia and other nutritive, low glycemic sweeteners that may be found in natural foods markets.

The trouble with all the non-nutritive, artificial sweeteners is that they are not food substances but artificial chemical additives. Depending on your sensitivity this could be a health issue for you even though they are tested safe by the FDA. Aspartame is the most controversial. Dr. Joseph Mercola calls it the most dangerous substance on the market added to foods! For some highly sensitive people that may be true.

As far as glycemic and fat storing affects of sugars and sweeteners, the biggest concerns are the high glycemic sweeteners that are NOT labeled! Diabetics need to control their insulin levels. If you want to control your weight you need to know which sugars and sweeteners stimulate excess body fat.

"Calorie free" or "light" do NOT tell the story. A food product may claim to be "calorie free" when it may legally contain up to 5 calories. That's not a lot but if those 5 calories are high glycemic preservatives and you consume multiple packets of a sweetener for example, it could be quite insulin stimulating. The person drinking the calorie free drink will have no idea why their blood sugar is going up!

Not only that but a "sugar free" product need only contain less than .5 grams of sugar. However it can be made of insulin stimulating, fat storing ingredients because it's made with carbohydrates acting as preservatives. Often what's in these products are maltodextrins or glucose polymers which are high glycemic! These preservatives actually elevate blood sugar/insulin levels faster than pure sugar or honey. Maltodextrins and glucose polymers have a very high glycemic index.

Consumers need to look for foods that have the glycemic response on the label. Or you can just buy the products with no artificial ingredients and stay away from the artificial sweeteners.

I'm glad you asked this question! I'm going to write up a comprehensive list of all the glycemically acceptable sugars both nutritive and non-nutritive. Sign up for my RSS blog on the home page on the lower left of the navigation bar and you will see it in my Lifetime Fat Loss blog. Or you can just come back to Lifetime Fat Loss often and check "What's New" at the top of the nav bar.

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