When you are looking to cut calories from your diet, switching from regular to diet soda seems to be a smart choice, considering the fact that most regular versions of soda have over 100 calories per serving. Recent studies and research have shown however, that while sugar substitutes may help a person lose weight in the short term because of reduced caloric intake, but they are actually working against weight loss in the long run.
When your body consumes a sugary soda, it recognizes it as a source of calories and sends “full” signals to your brain as if you had been eating actual food. This is your innate response to caloric intake and your body’s way of making sure that you receive enough calories in a day.
With sugar substitutes, your brain gets a “false” signal of sugar that is not followed by the expected calorie intake. So initially your body “gears up” to burn calories but when no calories are consumed (only the sugary taste of them), your body isn’t sure how to react.
Testing in animals suggests that receiving this false alarm disrupts your body’s natural ability to regulate caloric intake and recognize fullness. Because of this, you may feel more hungry than you really are and consume more calories than you naturally would. (Read more about this study).
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The studies also suggest that consuming sugar substitutes for too long can affect your ability to recognize calories and estimate intake permanently, even if the sugar substitutes cease. This can mean a lifetime of steady weight gain.
Undoubtedly, there are more studies to be done regarding artificial sweeteners and more conclusions will be drawn. However, the results of this ongoing research have so far been alarming. For this reason, weight loss experts highly urge their patients to refrain from consuming sugar substitutes.