Will Sugar Substitutes Cut Cravings?

do sugar substitutes cut cravings

Will Sugar Substitutes Cut Cravings?

Sugar is the first thing to go when you go on a low-carb or keto diet, but the desire for sweetness often lingers. Is it a good idea to satisfy your sweet tooth with a non-caloric sweetener like Stevia or other sugar substitutes? We’ll take a look at that question in this post.

Will Sugar Substitutes Cut Cravings? [Video]

In this video, you’ll learn…

  • What happens to your brain when you eat a sugar substitute.
  • What artificial sweeteners do to your sugar cravings.
  • How to minimize your sugar cravings.

Our body’s response to sugar substitutes

A teaspoon of sugar has four carbs, so it seems logical to turn to a non-calorie sweetener when you cut sugar out of your low-carb or keto diet.

While it is true that the popular sugar substitutes on the market contain few if any calories or carbs, they don’t make your break away from sugar any easier.

food reward research paper

According to this study, the reward we experience when we eat pleasurable food is two-fold with both a sensory and post ingestive component. (1)

  • The sensory branch is the mental craving side of food that gives us the desire to eat things that taste good.
  • The post ingestive branch is the level of satisfaction your body feels after eating a certain food.
2 branches of food reward

The intense sweetness that you get from non-caloric sweeteners lights up your brain making you feel as if you’ve cheated the system by getting the sensory sugar high without the calories.

However, because non-caloric sweeteners provide no appreciable nutritional value to your body, you don’t get the post ingestive satisfaction after eating or drinking artificially sweetened items.

Your brain tells you, “This stuff is great…give me some more!”, but your body gets no nutritional reward to interrupt that message. The end result is no relief from cravings.

Sugar substitutes encourage sugar dependence

The study goes on to say that “artificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence. Repeated exposure trains flavor preference. A strong correlation exists between a person’s customary intake of a flavor and his preferred intensity for that flavor.”

artificial sweetener research

In other words, the more sweet flavor we feed ourselves, the more we crave sweetness. That is true whether the sweetness comes with calories or without.

Instead of removing your sweet tooth, sugar substitutes have the potential to prolong your struggle with sugar.

sugar substitutes

A plan to diminish your cravings!

Are artificial sweeteners evil? I don’t think that we need to swing the pendulum that far, but I think you’ll have a more peaceful and enjoyable weight loss journey if you wean yourself off of regular use of sugar substitutes, and then use them sparingly or reserve them for special occasions.

Of course, weaning yourself off of sweetness is challenging, but it can certainly be done!

Thanks so much for reading and I will see you back here next week!


(1) Yang, Qing. “Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010.” The Yale journal of biology and medicine 83.2 (2010): 101.

About the Author

Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.

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