While clean eaters already know to avoid artificial sweeteners, studies haven't been able to pinpoint exactly how the sweet stuff stimulates appetite and promotes overeating until now. A recent study sheds new light on sucralose, linking it to increased appetite and weight gain as well as to insomnia and hyperactivity.
Scientists from the University of Sydney and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have found that artificial sweeteners like sucralose essentially trick your brain into believing you've eaten enough calories. Eventually, your brain realizes this isn't the case and tries to "remedy the situation" by triggering the hunger response, compelling you to crave even more calories.
Co-author and researcher, Herbert Herzog, PhD, discovered this hunger response in mice fed a seven-day diet containing sucralose. The study also found that fruit flies fed sucralose for more than five days later consumed 30 percent more calories when they were given naturally sweet food, demonstrating that artificial sweeteners enhance the sweetness in natural sugars and increase the urge to eat more of it even when enough calories are consumed.
"In general, there is no need for adding sugar or artificial sweeteners to food," says Herzog, adding that fresh food contains a sufficient amount of sugar and carbohydrates to maintain energy. Instead, if you feel the need to sweeten up your yogurt or oatmeal, stir in a dollop of raw honey or pure maple syrup.
For ideas on better sweetener alternatives, click here.