Too many people, using small amounts of artificial sweeteners outside your eating window may seem harmless with your omad diet regime.
However, it is critical to understand what they are and the effects they can have when fasting as well as your overall health.
To gain a complete understanding of artificial sweeteners, let’s take a look at what they are, alleged benefits, types, and side effects.
What are artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are precisely what the name implies: synthetic substitutes for sugar. These products stimulate the tongue to produce a sweet taste but are designed to have as few calories as possible. Many of these substances include items derived from natural products, such as various types of herbs and even sugar. The use of these products is somewhat controversial in the dietary world.
For example, these sweeteners are marketed as a way to cut calories from a diet without having to give up tasty foods. However, many individuals worry that the use of such artificial chemicals could affect a person’s body and mind in many different ways. Some of these side effects have been confirmed and will be discussed in a later section in this article.
Foods That Use Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are utilized in a wide array of foods, including:
- Diet soft drinks
- Powdered drink mixes
- Low-calorie candy or gum
- Multiple types of puddings
- Canned foods
- Low-calorie jams and jellies
- Low-calorie dairy products
- Multiple types of baking mixes
Alleged Benefits of Artificial Sweeteners
The manufacturers of artificial sweeteners claim that they provide many health benefits, including:
- Weight control
- Diabetes management
- Balanced blood sugar
- Improved dental health
In spite of these claims, independent studies have been inconclusive about these benefits.
Even worse, as mentioned before, there are many side effects of these products, which will be discussed in a later section. As a result, the FDA limits how much artificial sweetener present in most types of foods.
What are the types of artificial sweeteners?
Multiple types of artificial sweeteners have flooded the market in the last few decades, each of which operates in slightly different ways. The most popular of these sweeteners were listed by Doctor Oz and included some you may not know.
This potent artificial sweetener is 200 times more powerful than sugar and stimulates the sweet-taste receptors on the tongue. Acesulfame potassium or ace K is often found in many types of artificial sweetener blends, such as aspartame and sucralose.
One concerning thing about this sweetener is the fact that it does not break down in your body. Instead, this sweetener passes through the body unchanged in a person’s urine stream. Other names that this sweetener goes by include:
- Equal Spoonful
- Sweet One
Perhaps the most controversial of all artificial sweeteners, aspartame was approved in 1981 and is used in a multitude of different products including instant coffee, diet sodas, tea, gelatins, puddings, dairy products, and multiple types of toppings. The FDA has stated aspartame is safe for consumption in reasonable amounts.
Like ace K, aspartame is 200 percent more potent than regular sugar. As a result, smaller levels of this sweetener can simulate the same effect as sugar but without providing any calories. However, some individuals with phenylketonuria should avoid this sweetener in all of its names, including:
- Aspartyl-phenylalanine-1-methyl ester
- Equal Classic
- NatraTaste Blue
Although cyclamate was once the most popular sweetener in the USA for decades, the country banned this sweetener in 1970. Multiple studies found that this sweetener was dangerous to the health, which triggered many other countries to ban this white and odorless powder.
However, a growing number of scientists are pushing for more studies on this sweetener, as they believe the claims of its harmfulness were exaggerated. Other names that this substance goes by around the world include:
- Calcium cyclamate
Glycerol is another form of sugar alcohol that helps to process carbohydrates and lipids in the body. Although this compound is often used as a food additive, glycerol is also used as a pharmaceutical agent, a solvent, and even an emollient.
When taken in large enough levels, this sugar alcohol promotes better water transfer to tissues in the body and encourages kidney and bowel health. Most of the time, this substance is known as glycerin but may also be released as glycerine in some areas.
This sweetener comes from licorice root and produces the sweet taste of that food. In small levels, this sweetener may be more potent than sugar and contains far fewer calories. In some studies, this substance was found to suppress the growth of certain cancer tumors.
However, other studies have noted this substance caused problems such as increased potassium loss, edema, and higher blood pressure. When not sold under this hard-to-pronounce name, glycyrrhizic acid is typically marketed as licorice or licorice-root extract.
Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates
This sweetener, also known as HSH, mixed multiple types of sugar alcohols to produce a very potent and low-calorie sweetener. Numerous studies have established this as a safe alternative to sugar, though more investigations into long-term effects need to be taken. Typically, HSH is manufactured either under that label or is called sugar alcohol.
Other Common Artificial Sweeteners
The following artificial sweeteners are used in multiple ways throughout the dietary industry:
- Isomalt – Isomalt has a smooth taste that mimics sugar better than many other types of sweeteners, as it is made with natural sugar. Isomalt is also used in nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products and will not affect blood glucose or insulin levels.
- Lactitol – This sugar alcohol produces a sweet taste but does not break down or absorb in the smaller intestine.
- Maltitol – Another form of blood sugar, this substance is nearly as sweet as regular sugar but has just half of the calories. Unfortunately, it cannot breakdown in the stomach but does protect against dental cavities.
- Neotame – Based on aspartame’s formula, this artificial sweetener is a ridiculous 13,000 times sweeter than ordinary sugar. This substance may be used in some food products but is not approved for use with organic foods.
- Polydextrose – Made out of various types of glucose carbohydrates, this sweetener has been in use since the 1960s and will partially ferment in the stomach to limit blood sugar reactions.
- Saccharin – Perhaps the most diverse and longest-lasting of all artificial sweeteners, saccharin contains no carbohydrates and no calories and may produce a bitter aftertaste.
- Sucralose – This zero-calorie artificial sweetener was discovered by accident and is used in a multitude of cooking and baking products around the world as Splenda.
Now that the reader is aware of the most commonly used types of artificial sweeteners on the market, they should understand the side effects that may occur when using these products.
What are side effects of artificial sweeteners?
Many consumers believe that artificial sweeteners trigger a multitude of side effects and health problems.
A large number of studies have examined this problem, with some confirming that issues do exist.
However, other studies find no trouble with artificial sweeteners.
That said, the following side effects are the most commonly reported and most likely to occur in someone who consumes artificial sweeteners regularly.
Several studies abound discussing the possibility that artificial sweeteners trigger headaches. While a study in 2017 found that artificial sweeteners did not trigger migraines or severe headaches, the American Migraine Foundation still lists these substances as a trigger.
Many reports of headaches caused by artificial sweeteners are based on hearsay, though the many, many complaints of this problem lend credence to this belief. Make sure to talk to a doctor if you believe artificial sweeteners are triggering your headaches.
Artificial sweeteners have been linked to stomach pain, diarrhea, gas, and other digestive issues. Unfortunately, some studies have even found that some types of artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, sucralose, neotame, ace K, and saccharin, may kill helpful stomach bacteria. The result may trigger a multitude of digestive problems.
Cravings for Sweet Foods
One of the most problematic side effects of artificial sweeteners is the way they trigger a craving for sweet foods. Since these sweeteners simulate a sweet taste without using sugar, the mind is often tricked into thinking it has eaten sweeter food. As a result, cravings for these foods may increase, particularly for foods with real sugar.
Although manufacturers of artificial sweeteners often claim that their products promote weight loss, many studies show that they have the opposite effect. Many researchers believe that artificial sweeteners interfere with the body’s metabolism and may cause it to slow down in compensation. This problem is often paired with the digestive issues mentioned above, particularly the death of stomach bacteria.
What are natural sweeteners?
Those who find artificial sweeteners scary may appreciate natural sweeteners. These products come from all-natural sources, typically plants or fruits, and use no synthetic production methods. As a result, these sweeteners often have no negative side effects or very minimal ones.
A growing number of organic foods utilize natural sweeteners to limit sugar consumption. Unlike artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners appear to have no risk of cancer or other health issues. Just as importantly, these sweeteners can be digested by the body.
Their one major downside is their less sweet taste when compared to artificial sweeteners. People who are used to robust flavors produced by sweeteners such as aspartame may find foods flavored with natural sweeteners hard to enjoy.
However, those who are concerned about the possible side effects of synthetic foods may find that these alternatives provide a safer and all-natural way to sweeten food. Just as importantly, people with a taste for highly-sweet artificial substances can easily adjust to these less intense flavors.
The best-known natural sweetener comes from the plants of the Stevia rebaudiana. This plant grows in South America, where it has been cultivated for centuries. Multiple types of medicinal and dietary benefits surround this plant, particularly its potent and nearly calorie-free flavor.
Surprisingly, studies have even found that stevia produces some real health benefits. For example, benefits such as decreased blood pressure, improved diabetes control, and reduced bad cholesterol may also occur with the occasional use of stevia.
This sugar alcohol contains one of the higher caloric levels of all natural sweeteners, at about 2.4 calories per gram. That does make it a bit harder to use for weight control, though this substance does provide many other benefits well worth consideration.
For example, xylitol does seem to help with dental health, which is a significant benefit for those who love sugary foods. Surprisingly, this substance may also help to improve a person’s bone density and provide them with the chance to fight against diseases such as osteoporosis. When combined with dairy products, this benefit may grow even more.
Sugar alcohol is one of the most common types of sweetener and comes in many different names. Erythritol is just one of these sugar alcohols. Typically, these products are found in small levels in various types of fruits and vegetables.
This sugar alcohol contains far fewer calories than other types of sugar alcohols, with just 0.24 calories per gram. However, this substance only contains 70 percent of the sweetness of normal sugar and may cause some digestive issues. Other names under which this substance is released includes:
- Sugar alcohol
This sugar-alternative, harvested from the yacon plant grown only in the Andes Mountains in South America, provides many benefits. First of all, studies have shown yacon syrup helps with weight loss, particularly in overweight women. This benefit occurs due to the yacon fruit’s high levels of soluble fibers. As these fibers cannot be digested, they improve the metabolic process and help a person lose weight.
Just as importantly, yacon syrup may provide help against constipation and other types of digestive problems. Like with other types of fiber, however, consumers should avoid overeating these products at first when changing their diet. Early on in a dietary change, excessive yacon sugar consumption may trigger cramps, stomach pains, and diarrhea. Thankfully, these side effects pass as the body adjusts to the higher levels of fiber provided by yacon fruit.
Maximize your Fasting Benefits
While small amounts of artificial sweeteners can be debated of their impact outside of your eating window, I always advise as clean of a fast as possible. To maximize the benefits of intermittent fasting, it’s always best to avoid any ingredients that these artificial sweeteners contain.
Avoid Potential Side Effects
We all know that the Omad Diet can be challenging from many aspects of beginning to even the seasoned veterans of the diet. With potential side effects such as headaches and cravings, it’s best to avoid any added pitfalls that could derail your long-term success.
If You MUST have Artificial Sweeteners
Then, I would encourage a natural sweetener such as Stevia. However, I would use in small amounts and monitor your weight loss progress throughout your regime while using it.