If there are no calories you can have as much as you want, right? Wrong! The USDA has set an Acceptable Daily Intake, or ADI, on each of the five FDA-approved artificial sweeteners. This means that the USDA does not guarantee that these sweeteners are safe beyond a certain daily limit. The ADI for sucralose (which is sold as Splenda©) is equivalent to about six 12 oz. cans of diet soda per day.
Why would a government agency put a limit on an artificial sweetener? Because these products are made from chemicals that humans have never eaten before. They are made from amino acids or sugars that have been modified in a lab so we can’t digest them. Because researchers aren’t sure what the long-lasting impact on health could be from eating these products every day, they set a limit for daily consumption that they believe is safe.
Do artificial sweeteners help with weight loss and maintenance? At least one study says no. The study had some participants that avoided all products containing aspartame (sold as Nutrasweet©), and others replaced all of their sugar with aspartame. All of the participants were attempting to lose weight using exercise and diet changes. Both groups lost about the same amount of weight in four months. The participants that avoided aspartame were more likely to keep the weight off after two years.
Looking for a sweet and healthy alternative? If you’re a diet soda drinker, try naturally flavored seltzers such as those manufactured by Talking Rain or La Croix. If you like sweet foods, try a ripe piece of fresh fruit. Fruit does contain calories, but those calories come with great stuff like water, fiber, and antioxidants!
For more information on artificial sweetener risks check out the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s “Chemical Cuisine” page.
This article is a repost of one that I wrote for Pinnacle Physical Therapy.