I remember the excitement when diet sodas called Fresca and Tab first showed up in stores. I remember when saccharin was replaced by aspartame, and then aspartame was replaced by sucralose as the great solution to obesity. Yet here, in the USA, obesity continues to increase. It affects us at younger ages than ever before. Thus I want to tell you straight up what I’ve concluded, and why. Artificial sweeteners are maybe not the best foods to eat to lose belly fat. I wrote about the health risks of abdominal fat in a blog “Three Reasons to Calculate Waist Hip Ratio.” You can find it here:
Artificial Sweeteners: Not the Best Foods to Eat to Lose Belly Fat
While I personally don’t use artificial sweeteners, as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) I commit to grounding recommendations to clients on medical research published in peer-reviewed medical journals. My opinion is not enough. Case studies with a dozen people are not enough. An expert’s interview is not enough.
I’ve read more than one peer-reviewed medical paper that suggests artificial sweeteners may actually promote weight gain and increased abdominal fat.
How can that be? While it’s not 100% clear, possibilities include artificial sweeteners’ influence on brain sensations of fullness, gut microbial population, and genes controlling metabolism within cells.
Fasten on your seat belt and follow me on a tour of three research studies.
Sweeteners in All Foods, Not Just Soda
Researchers from the NIH Institute on Aging published a study in 2016 doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0167241 that followed 1400 subjects for an average of ten years. Their conclusions? Even after adjusting for factors like smoking, diet, exercise, and diabetes, low-calorie sweetener use was associated with heaver weight, larger waist, and greater incidence of abdominal obesity. They said “Low-calorie sweeteners may not be an effective means of weight control.” In their research they defined abdominal obesity as a waist circumference greater than forty inches for men, and thirty-five inches for women.
Diet Sodas and Older Adults
Individuals over 65 years old in San Antonio, from both Mexican-American and European-American ethnic backgrounds, stayed in a research study for at least nine years. Those who drank diet sodas, either every day or occasionally, gained three times more in waist circumference than those who didn’t.
Scientists concluded “In a striking dose-response relationship, increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, a potential pathway for heightened cardiometabolic risk in this aging population.”
Taking It to the Cells
This next one is really tech-y. Biochemists at George Washington University https://hsrc.himmelfarb.gwu.edu/gw_research_days/2017/SMHS/68/ added sucralose, the main ingredient of Splenda, to solutions containing stem cells. The low-calorie sweetener promoted fat build up in the cells. Sucralose in the cell cultures increased the activity of fat-forming genes, leading researchers to surmise a “possible cause-effect relationship between sweetener use and fat deposition.”
While results from cell cultures can’t be directly linked to our bodies, this could be one explanation for what’s been seen in people studies.
Foods Not to Eat to Lose Belly Fat
Does it matter to you? Do you want to avoid the side effects of extra belly fat?: https://deborahrankinrd.com/calculate-waist-hip-ratio/
Think about what you want from life. If you’re ready to change what you drink, you can go it alone. You might be able to do it just fine, and I’m here to cheer you all the way! Drop me a line and let me know what worked for you.
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I’ll end with something I wrote in my book http://bit.ly/DeStressbook
“Healthy habits are not tortures you must endure to get a trimmer figure or better results on medical tests. Healthy habits are their own reward…They help you feel better and enjoy life more.”
I wish you the very best!
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