Foods and beverages that contain no-calorie artificial sweeteners may be ruining your ability to control your food intake and body weight, according to new research by psychologists at Purdue University’s Ingestive Behavior Research Center.
In their study, when compared with rats that ate yogurt sweetened with glucose (a simple sugar), rats that ate yogurt sweetened with the zero-calorie artificial sweetener saccharin:
- Consumed more calories (and didn’t make up for it by cutting back later)
- Gained more weight
- Put on more body fat
It’s thought that consuming artificial sweeteners breaks the connection between a sweet sensation and a high-calorie food, thereby changing your body’s ability to regulate intake.
The researchers also measured the rats’ core body temperatures, which typically rise after eating. However, after eating a sweet, high-calorie meal, rats that ate saccharin had a lower rise in body temperature than rats that ate glucose.
The researchers believe that this blunted biological response led the rats to overeat, and made it harder to burn off the calories later.
They concluded that consuming foods sweetened with saccharin would lead to greater weight gain and body fat than eating the same foods sweetened with sugar.
Although further research needs to be done, the researchers believe that consuming other artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame K would have similar effects.