Why Artificial Sweeteners are Bad for Weight Loss and Can Make you Fat!

Why the Zero Calorie Drink Should Scare You...

2009 UPDATE!!!

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Now, back to the blog...


I was training at a Minneapolis-based gym today, working with a client who is preparing to shock his family at their upcoming reunion.  Right in the middle of our session a lady approached me and asked me to look at her calorie-free-fruity-tasting-vitamin-filled-sugar-free-water-drink.  Sigh.

My client, thankful for the interruption, begged me to indulge the woman so he could go and find his lungs.  I relented.  Upon analyzing the label, I asked the woman a few questions about her super-holy-water.  Here are three questions everyone needs to ask themselves before going crazy for calorie-free and calorie-depleted foods and beverages.

Does This Taste Like It Should Have Calories?

If it tastes like it should have calories and doesn't (or tastes like it should have more calories...Diet Coke/Diet Pepsi/Coke Zero), then it is going to have a negative impact on your body.  That negative impact might not be called calories, but the impact will still be there.  In the case of drinks filled with artificial sweeteners, the impact is that the metabolism is fooled by the taste of sweet without the raise in blood sugar.  Therefore, artificial sweeteners teach the body not to have a metabolic respond to sweet tastes, which is a killer when we consume real sugar (read my blog about diet soda to get the full story on this).

Water, unlike diet soda or vitamin water, doesn't taste like it should have calories.  It is free of color, free or taste, and usually free of smell (water in Terre Haute, IN never meets this criteria....proving there are always exceptions to the rule!).  I've never heard anybody say, "This water tastes SO GOOD, I can't believe it doesn't have any calories."  Water is a very simple drink.  It doesn't taste like it should have calories.  The same could be said for lettuce and celery.  Not a lot of taste there...doesn't taste like it should have calories.

Use common sense when thinking about purchasing a food/drink that is advertised as calorie free of "just 5 calories".  If it tastes like it should have more calories, and therefore has lots of artificial sweetener in it, avoid it.  Those foods/beverages will have a negative impact on your body.

Is This Fuel My Body Can Really Use?

A few years ago I decided to stretch my dollar a little farther by fueling up my car with E85 instead of regular unleaded.  Problem was, my car made to process E85.  Two tanks of E85 later, my car was towed away and donated to Cars for Courage.  The lesson I learned over my lost Mazda Millenia: never give an engine something it wasn't built to process!

Would you agree that we are hard on our bodies?  When we add up the things we eat and drink (snacks that expire in 2030, drinks with bubbles and poisions, i.e. alcohol), inhale (cigarette smoke, Al Gore's private jet fuel, ingredients in cleaners and detergents, deordorants and colognes/perfumes), and absorb through our skin (chlorine, ingredients in lotions, SPF)....we subject our body to things EVERY SINGLE DAY that it was not built to process. 

I know my body was designed to respond to fats, natural sugars, proteins, water, and oxygen.  It has adapted to virtually everything else.  How much of what we consume is treating our body like E85 was treating my Mazda?  The point is this: a lot of products are marketed as healthy choices when in reality they are not what our body was designed to process.  If it is artificial, do not embrace it as natural.  Learn from my E85 experience.

What types of artificial sweeteners should I avoid?

The way most people eat, it's virtually impossible to avoid artificial sweeteners because it would require a complete food/drink makeover.  As a rule of thumb, I would say it would be wise to avoid sweeteners that replace a significant amount of sugar.  Diet soda, for example, is a killer.  In a can of regular cola (Pepsi/Coke) there is about 40g of sugar.  Since the diet colas do not have sugar, that is 40g of sugar to replace.  Yikes! 

If a product would normally have 10g of sugar and offers a sugar-free version (which is replacing 10g of sugar wtih artificial sweeteners), that might be the product worth using IF you are bent on having artificial sweeteners.  What we don't want to do is fill our pantries and refridgerators with "sugar-free" products that are replacing a large amount of sugar with artificial sweeteners.  Diet sodas are out, people, as are any product that is replacing 20g of sugar or more.

With the advent of artificial sweeteners, weight loss is getting tougher and tougher.  We are constantly putting foods into our body that confuse our metabolism and are poor sources of fuel.  Virtually every single study on artificial sweeteners has grave consequences attached to it: weight gain instead of weight loss, slowing a metabolism instead of speeding up metabolism, gaining fat instead of losing fat. 

Believe the studies, use common sense, and avoid artificial sweeteners.  They will only make you fat!

Adam Erwin is a personal trainer who travels the world working with people who want to experience fat loss and weight loss in record-time. He currently resides in Minneapolis, MN and loves to train with people whose health does not match their lifestyle. Adam plans on visiting Delray Beach, FL this fall to help a client or two get their body back.  Visit www.keepyourbetterhalf.com to learn more about his work.