How can artificial sweeteners prevent me from losing weight?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham, MD, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist
Artificial sweeteners have been linked to both weight loss and weight gain. Watch as functional medicine expert Elizabeth Boham, MD, explains why artificial sweeteners may be doing the opposite of what we think.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Artificial sweeteners are frequently found in many reduced-calorie foods, processed products, and diet or decaffeinated drinks. Studies are mixed on whether they help or hurt your waistline. Some studies suggest they can actually cause you to eat more, not fewer, calories. Whenever you eat, your body is trained to expect calories, but it's not getting them when you eat zero-calorie sweeteners. You end up craving more food and not feeling full. What's more, artificial sweeteners are up to 7,000 times sweeter than natural sugars, and this can desensitize taste buds. As a result, artificial sweeteners can cause you to overeat.

Cut artificial sweeteners out of your diet and enjoy natural sweets like fruit and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.

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Ms. Ashley Koff, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist
Artificial sweeteners can sabotage even the best weight loss plan. Registered dietician Ashley Koff talks in this video about how something with low or zero calories can wreck your diet.

Many people turn to artificial sweeteners when they're trying to lose weight -- and for many people they help -- but some research suggests that switching from sugar to an artificial sweetener could actually lead to overeating.

In one study, lab animals fed saccharin-sweetened yogurt consumed more calories -- and packed on more pounds -- than the animals that ate the treat with sugar added. Like humans, animals are conditioned to expect lots of calories from sweet-tasting foods. But it seems that no-calorie substitutes may put the brain and the body at odds. The brain says, "Mmm, sweet and satisfying," but the body says, "I need more." Time will tell if the results hold true in people, but there are already human studies linking diet soda to excess weight. (Here's another reason diet soda may be bad for you.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.