I switched to Splenda after years of adding sugar to my morning coffee. But there was still a nagging question. Every time I ripped one of those yellow packet open, I wondered – is Splenda bad for you?
I look forward to my daily cup of hot coffee. It’s the highlight of my morning. The comforting taste in my mouth, the warm feeling in my body, and knowing that my mind will slowly start to awaken, brings me incredible pleasure. Now, I enjoy the taste of my coffee itself.
From Sugar Fiend to Splenda Queen
I used to add 2-3 spoonfuls of sugar into my family’s afternoon chai/tea time. I was known as the person who liked to add chai/tea to my sugar! When I replaced sugar with Splenda (processed reconstructed sugar molecule), I felt that I was definitely on the right track. Because it was “no sugar” and no calories, I considered it a good choice.
I then became the “Queen of Splenda”, as my husband said because I loved and advocated for it so much. Aspartame (found in Equal and Nutrasweet, used to flavor many diet sodas) was a regular in my diet too. Diet Pepsi was a major addiction I had for years. I craved it several times throughout the day.
When I used Splenda, I felt tired and heavy, and my weight did NOT come off easily.
No one ever thought I looked 10 years younger until I took sugar and Splenda out of my diet.
Fast forward. . .
A couple weeks ago I was at an event. When I told the group that I was 37 years old, one lady’s mouth physically hung open. She asked me, “Are you sure you’re not 27?” Flattered, I said, no – and she then asked for my recipes.
I attribute taking sugar AND artificial sweeteners out of my diet for a more youthful look (though I think 10 years is overdoing it!) and my rapid weight-loss.
I’m going to tell you about how using artificial sweeteners (like Splenda) and even natural sweeteners affect your brain, gut health, and even your skin!
Is Splenda bad for you?
Now, here’s an easy equation to remember: sugar = fat storage.
- The liver converts excess sugar into fat and stores it on your body.
- Sugar spikes insulin, to try and stabilize your blood sugar levels and so that your body can convert that sugar into energy for your muscles. But most of us (except people in the middle of running a marathon) already have enough energy in their muscles. Elevated insulin shuts down your fat-burning process so it can use the sugar as energy. But it stores the rest as fat.
So, sugar substitutes were invented as a way for us to enjoy sweetness without the calories or the blood sugar spike since it does not spike insulin and it is not converted to fat.
See a comprehensive list of the most popular sugar substitutes: But…here is why sweeteners will never help you keep the weight off.
While non-caloric sweeteners may not affect your blood sugar or directly pack fat on your butt and tummy, they do prevent weight-loss and make you look older because of how they affect your brain, skin and gut health.
You have to think bigger than if your artificial sweetener will help you lose weight because it has fewer calories than sugar. There’s more to the story.
I have a cheat sheet for you to share a sweet spice that is completely natural, lowers blood sugar and actually decreases sugar cravings.
Let’s take a closer look at why artificial sweeteners are not a good idea, even though they won’t count as calories or spike blood sugar levels.
In this post, I’m sharing 3 parts of your body sweeteners impact to prevent permanent weight-loss and a 3-step plan to ease them out.
1. Is Splenda bad for you? It’s bad for your brain.
Artificial sweeteners (like Splenda) trick your brain into overeating.
Have you ever had an overwhelming desire for something sweet – even though you just had a full meal? Or found yourself pulled toward the kitchen cupboards in search of some sweet morsel, but you know you’re not actually hungry? You just want that certain taste.
That’s because of a cycle created in your brain. You have something sweet (even with low or no calories) and before long you want it again and again. It’s not like real hunger requesting to be satisfied, it’s a desperate feeling of needing it – it’s addiction.
The science behind sweeteners and sweet cravings
This article from Yale talks about how your sweet cravings (perpetuated by sweeteners) drive overeating:
“Experiments generally have found that sweet taste, whether delivered by sugar or artificial sweeteners, enhanced human appetite. Animals seek food to satisfy the inherent craving for sweetness, even in the absence of energy need.”
Even if your body doesn’t need calories, it wants to satisfy that sweet craving.
Put another way, this article in Forbes says, “…sweeteners un-calibrate the brain since there’s a disconnect between the perception of sweetness and the amount of energy that’s taken in. This, in turn, makes the brain crave additional energy from other sources.”
That’s why it’s not a good idea to give your body a sweet fix though no-calorie sweeteners.
Here’s my take, because I focus on healthy lifestyle change and permanent weight-loss — as a longer-term solution, why not reduce your dependence on sweetness so you don’t need any kind of fix?
You’ll feel more stable and in control, not like you’re at the mercy of your cravings.
It’s possible (I stopped being addicted to sugar and artificial sweeteners until I was in my thirties).
I have this sweet spice cheat sheet, to help you do it.
More effects sweeteners have on your brain
Sweeteners also reduce your brain’s association of sugar with high calories, and as a result, can cause weight gain.
This study from Harvard says that since artificial sweeteners are low in sugar, they can prevent your brain from associating sweetness with a high-calorie intake. That can drive unhealthy cravings for sweet and bad food choices even further and make us gain weight.
The same study says participants in a San Antonio Heart Study who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were “…twice as likely to become overweight or obese as people who didn’t drink diet soda.”
They were training their brains to need sweets, and ate more than normal because of it.
Another study looked at fruit flies when they had been fed diet soda sweetened with Splenda. The results were shocking – they ate 30% more than normal!
The article sums it up here:
2. Is Splenda bad for you? It’s bad for your gut health.
Sugar and Splenda-type sweeteners affect the balance in your gut
Everyone is talking about gut health these days. The more scientists learn about it, the more we’re seeing the link between the gut and overall health.
We naturally have billions of different kinds of bacteria in our intestines. Depending on what we eat, we can change the balance and dominance of different kinds of bacteria. That balance has “…a strong influence on how we metabolize food.”
There’s more and more evidence that gut bacteria also affect how easily we gain or lose weight. Scientists saw a correlation between certain strains of bacteria in the gut and healthy weight levels in mice.
And this study shows that artificial sweeteners can change the intestinal gut bacteria for the worse and possibly lead to obesity and diabetes.
Gut + Brain Crossover
Artificial sweeteners can also affect our moods through changing the makeup of our guts and influencing cortisol levels (which change the way your body stores fat) and levels of anxiety and depression (which affect your behavior around food).
This study concluded that artificial sweeteners can alter our metabolisms and even
“… change the composition of some of the trillions of microbes that live in our digestive tracts, the gut flora that influences not only our immune systems but our brains.”
Don’t mess with your gut anymore. Get my Sweet Spice Cheat Sheet to find a natural sweetener that will HELP the balance of your gut.
3. Is Splenda bad for you? It’s bad for your skin.
Sugar, Splenda, and other sweeteners cause acne and wrinkles
Sugar, even in its natural form, increases inflammation in the body and causes skin issues like acne. It also causes premature aging.
Artificial sweeteners can actually be just as bad or worse for your skin, as “They are pure chemicals and can cause a lot of problems. Any type of impurities in the system will cause more breakouts.”
Another article says artificial sweeteners can cause acne breakouts, allergic reactions, and eczema. This happens by altering your metabolism (which affects insulin levels) and your hormones.
Since your body doesn’t absorb most artificial sweeteners, it eliminates them through urine or sweat. When those chemicals leave your body, they can cause all kinds of issues like inflammation, acne and blocked pores.
Remember how that lady couldn’t believe my age? This is why! I stopped depending on sugar and sweeteners, and it gave me a glowing, youthful complexion.
Get your glow back, without feeling deprived! Find out more about the spice that doctors recommend to help pre-diabetics control their blood sugar + it’s in your kitchen cabinet right now!
When you remove sugar and artificial sweeteners from your diet, you’ll see amazingly fast and sustainable weight-loss
By adding in an artificial sweetener, you’re perpetuating your sweet craving. When you have sugar, you want more sugar. Use an artificial sweetener is like taking a pill to mask the pain — but you’re not healing the internal issue.
You have to start taking out the TASTE of sweet from your diet – not just the calories of sweet.
If you want to permanently lose weight, you have to change your physiological and behavioral response to sweet food.
It doesn’t happen overnight. Sugar cravings are very deep and have been compared to cocaine addiction.
Nagina’s 3-Step Plan to Lose 10 pounds, Get Shinier Skin, and Feel Lighter By Easing Sugar and Splenda out of your Diet (without hating your life)
1. Starting today, use HALF the amount of added sugar and/or artificial sweetener that you currently use.
You have to ease it out. This will make removing it from your diet long term more sustainable.
Reduce sugar or artificial sweeteners in your coffee, tea, oatmeal, cereal, or other daily foods and drinks by half. That includes diet sodas.
Do not try to take sugar/sweeteners out cold-turkey unless you have support. You may go through the pain of severe withdrawal symptoms like hunger, stronger cravings, and light-headedness.
2. After one week, reduce sugar and/or artificial sweetener by half again.
You’ll adjust to the lower amount and taking it a step further won’t be a big deal.
3. After two weeks, take it out completely. It will take a bit to get used to it, but you will.
Once you start the process of taking out sugar from your diet, your body will rapidly respond. You may feel some withdrawal symptoms like sharper cravings. But, stay with the plan and these will go away in 3-4 days. You will lose weight quickly, notice you’ll have healthier skin, and even start to look younger.
I want you to start tasting real food and drinks. They taste pretty damn good! Plus, they make losing weight and having the body of your dreams attainable – no matter your genetics or busy lifestyle.
If you haven’t grabbed it already, you have to get this Sweet Spice Cheat Sheet to help painlessly transition away from depending on sugar and artificial sweeteners.
The Sweet Spice Cheat Sheet has:
- 3 health benefits of adding the “Sweet Spice” to your day
- 5 simple ways to use it
- A delicious, easy recipe using the spice
I still savor my morning cup of coffee. I just actually enjoy the taste of my coffee and the feeling it gives me instead of masking it with sugar and heavy cream.
Let me know any questions or comments below – especially about if you want to take sugar or an artificial sweetener out of your diet and why it is hard for you. As/if you try this plan, let me know how you’re doing and what is working / what is difficult.
Text with Sugar Substitutes / Artificial Sweeteners:
Sucralose: AKA Splenda is made by altering sugar molecules – replacing hydrogen-oxygen groups with chlorine molecules. What you get is a sweetener with zero calories, but the same (or slightly more intense) taste bud activation. Your body doesn’t absorb it for the most part and it doesn’t count it as calories.
Aspartame: AKA Nutrasweet and Equal “is made by joining together the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine.” There has been a lot of controversy over health issues and aspartame, though the general consensus at the moment is that it’s technically safe in small or normal amounts.
Stevia Sweeteners: Stevia is a relatively new addition to artificial sweetener options. Some say it’s more natural and healthier than other sweeteners because it’s a sweet herb. But, it’s still usually processed and altered. That’s why some people recommend using unprocessed or minimally processed stevia and others say to look for Reb A versions, which have been approved by the FDA as safe in small amounts. While it’s generally considered safe, there are some fairly alarming possible side effects, like reproductive, cardiovascular harm and even affecting blood sugar/pressure medications.
Some other names for sugar that you should know:
These are all simple sugars that the body breaks down as plain old sugar.
Are natural sweeteners better?
Many people like to use honey, dates and maple syrup among many others instead of chemically constructed or altered sweeteners. In some ways, this makes sense because whole, natural foods are generally healthier for you. They offer vitamins, enzymes and other things our bodies can use.
BUT whatever you call it, sugar is sugar and it will still be stored as fat and cause the cycle of spiking blood sugar and hormone imbalance.
Let me know any questions or comments below.