Friday, October 8, 2010

Aspartame: Diet Sodas and Weight Gain

Aspartame, which is sold as Nutrasweet, is a chemical that is 200 times as sweet as sugar, and could therefore be used in very small amounts to avoid the calories that you would get if you used sugar. A great deal of controversy exists regarding the effectiveness of aspartame and other 'artificial' sweeteners in preventing unwanted weight gain. That is what I would like to talk about today.

Popular Uses of Aspartame
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is used by millions of Americans as a substitute for sugar. It provides the sweetness of sugar without the calories. If you drink diet soda, chances are you are consuming aspartame. It is also used in a wide range of processed foods. In addition to sodas, artificial sweeteners can be found in a number of processed foods, including flavored juice drinks, baby food, frozen foods, baked goods, candies, ice cream, and all types of desserts. These sweeteners can be found  in other foods as well.

Aspartame and Weight Gain
Weight loss. If you drink diet soda, chances are you are doing so either because you want to lose weight - or at least to avoid gaining. But do artificial sweeteners really help?

There are a number of conflicting reports about whether or not artificial sweeteners can actually help you to lose weight.  in some cases, researchers found that people who drank sodas containing aspartame actually gained more weight than people who did not use the artificial sweetener. This is the opposite of what you might have expected.

However, it should not be too surprising. After all, the massive increase in obesity over the past few decades have occurred during the same period of time that the use of artificial sweeteners also exploded.

There are several theories about why and how artificial sweeteners can cause you to gain weight. One theory is that these chemicals alter the brain in such a way that it increases your appetite, makes you feel hungry, and creates a desire for more food. As a result, you can actually end up eating more food than you would if you did not use the artificial sweetener. Even when compared to table sugar, artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, seem to create a greater desire for food.

Appetite. A number of studies show that eating or drinking sweet-tasting food increases appetite. And in one study, aspartame seemed to increase hunger more than did sugar or water.

Your brain on aspartame. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame appear to promote sugar cravings and a dependency, similar to other habit-forming and addictive behaviors.

Consuming 'diet' sodas regularly can stimulate your appetite, increase hunger and cause you to overeat. This can contribute to unwanted weight gain and cause you to become overweight or obese. To avoid this, try to cut on the use of these drinks.

Gain weight by "going diet?" Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings