The Scoop on Sugar Substitutes Think you’re doing the right thing by drinking diet soda instead of regular? The bad news is diet soda boasts some serious downsides. Sugar-free substitutes, like aspartame, Splenda and Stevia can actually harm you and your diet more than you realize.

Cell-Killer

Found in more than 6000 foods in the U.S., aspartame is considered one of the worst food additives by many health experts. The product was unapproved by the FDA until 1980 and some researchers believe it may be linked to chronic illnesses. In fact, aspartame is a neurotoxin, meaning that it has the ability to kill brain cells and other neurons throughout the body.

Stored Chemical

On the market since 1999, Splenda is another sugar substitute to avoid. As a sugar molecule with an attached chlorine molecule, your body has a hard time getting rid of it. Toxins and chemicals the body can't process are typically stored in fat cells, making your body less likely to burn fat for energy.

Consume in Moderation

Stevia is a natural plant-based sweetener that may be a safe choice in moderation. Stevia-based brands are made of a purified extract of Stevia called Rebaudioside A which is 200 times sweeter than sugar and does not raise blood sugar.

However, it's important to note that many Stevia products contain other types of unnatural chemicals used to alter the taste of this naturally bitter sweetener.

The Scoop on Sugar Substitutes

Weight Gain, Not Loss

A recent Purdue study shows rats who consumed food sweetened with saccharin ate more, gained more weight and added more body fat. Artificial sweeteners hinder your body’s natural hunger regulation system. When you feed it empty calories that lack nutritional content, your body fights to be satiated. You’ll keep craving and eating until that happens. In essence, calorie-free foods lead to eating more calories.

Prepare & Make New Choices

To reduce sugar substitutes in your diet, do some prep work before meals. Choose a sweetener you're comfortable with using, and have it on hand so you're not at the mercy of what's available to you. But in general, try to decrease your sugar intake as much as possible to reduce inflammation and the chances of chronic illness. If you do need a little extra sweetness, opt for natural cane sugar in moderation. And keep making the choice to be healthier today than you were yesterday.