Low calorie sweeteners are sugar substitutes which have no or minimal calories. In addition, they tend to have a much higher intensity of sweetness. They have gained in popularity significantly over the last few years. They initially came to market to sweeten beverages but have now extended to a wide range of foods and products such as yoghurts, desserts and cereals.
Some low calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame, have received negative press due to concerns around their safety. However, the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) have approved several different types of sweeteners (Saccharin, Aspartame, Sucralose and Stevia) for safe consumption within the UK. Regulations stipulate that all sweeteners have to be included on the ingredients list of products.
Many studies have looked at the role of sweeteners in weight loss but results have been conflicting. A review published in the Journal of Nutrition (2012) stated that low calories sweeteners MAY cause weight gain through increasing appetite, hunger and food intake. However, the researchers went on to conclude that there is no ‘significant’ evidence from observational data to support this!
Here is a rundown of the research conclusions to date:
If you want to lose weight, sweeteners can play a role in reducing your energy intake, particularly if you consume a large number of sugary beverages. However, obesity and weight gain is multifaceted and simply changing to diet beverages will not be sufficient in creating long-term weight loss.