Artificial sweeteners combined with a low carb diet increases calories consumption: Australian academics

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

There is emerging evidence that consuming artificial sweeteners may have unanticipated consequences, say researchers. ©iStock
There is emerging evidence that consuming artificial sweeteners may have unanticipated consequences, say researchers. ©iStock

Related tags Nutrition Carbohydrate

Artificial sweeteners combined with a low carbohydrate diet significantly increases the quantity of calories consumed, according to Australian researchers.

Writing in the journal Cell Metabolism​, researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Life and Environmental Sciences, explained how they performed tests on fruit flies, providing them with diets containing varying amounts of carbohydrate and sweeteners.

Flies that consumed artificial sweeteners alongside a low carbohydrate diet showed an immediate increase in food intake. This increase varied according to the dose of sweeteners provided and was not observed in flies consuming unsweetened foods. 

Their letter in the journal states: “Here we show that acute ingestion of sucralose in the context of a low-carbohydrate diet causes a pronounced increase in calories consumed. Moreover, neither sucralose nor L-glucose had a lasting effect on food intake during chronic exposure; however, both non-nutritive sweeteners (NNSs) enhance food intake post-exposure. Together these data confirm that sucralose and L-glucose promote food intake under a variety of experimental conditions.”

A previous study reported that consumption of an artificial sweetener in the context of a higher carbohydrate diet actually suppressed food intake, and therefore may help reduce calories consumed.

Unanticipated consequences

However, in this case, flies that were offered a higher carbohydrate diet and consumed higher doses of sweeteners did not simultaneously reduce their food intake.

The researchers added: Although originally considered benign, there is emerging evidence from multiple groups that consuming sucralose or other NNS may have unanticipated consequences.

“To fully understand the impact of NNSs on overall health will require carefully controlled, adequately powered systematic investigation of NNS effects on multiple metabolic parameters and across numerous experimental systems.”

Previous research by the University of Sydney team on flies and mice revealed chronic consumption of artificial sweeteners increase feelings of hunger​ due to a complex neuronal network that responds to artificially sweetened food by telling the animal it has not eaten enough energy.

Source: Cell Metabolism

“Chronic Sucralose or L-Glucose Ingestion Does Not Suppress Food Intake”

Authors: Qiao Ping Wang, et al

Related topics Research Oceania Health claims

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