Killing Us Sweetly! Part Four (200 Times Sweeter Than Sugar)

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Killing Us Sweetly! Part Four (200 Times Sweeter Than Sugar)

15th Jan 2014

A Digression on Sweeteners: Aspartame

Aspartame is probably the most common of all artificial sweeteners. The key question that needs to be asked is what impact this has on weight loss and also health? My attitude has always been that common sense should prevail. If we take some time to think about things logically, how can anything processed actually be good for us? I would recommend taking this into consideration when thinking about sweeteners.

I will make this fairly relevant to those of you out there looking to lose weight. Most people that try to lose weight always face a constant battle. If I was to make that battle easier by saying “hey here is something that you can eat that’s sweet but still low calorie” surely that would incite you to eat this product. In my opinion, this is the foundation of the attraction of artificial sweeteners.

A brief history of aspartame.

Aspartame was first created in 1965 and it was signed off as safe in 1981 by the food and drug administration in the USA. Interesting it was discovered accidently in a project to make an anti ulcer drug. The company that made aspartame G.D Searle was subject to a review on 11 of it’s studies on aspartame. The FDA found “serious deficiencies in the practices and operations” of G.D Searle. Then in 1980, there were concerns raised about aspartame and brain cancer. It was concluded (loosely) that aspartame does not cause cancer. Since then there has been a lot of controversy about aspartame and its safety. It has been reviewed and deemed as “safe at current levels of consumption” I find this an interesting play on words especially the “at current levels” Interestingly aspartame has recommended daily intake of about 40-50mg per KG of body weight. I find it interesting that something that is safe has limits placed upon it.

Calories versus Overconsumption

When we discuss food, the problem is not always what that food does directly but what it could lead us to do as a side effect. Let me explain, when I discuss cutting out sugar and flour, one of the key reasons for doing this is the addictive nature of these foods. Is one biscuit per day really going to have that much impact? Probably not, however it’s the fact that biscuits are not made in packs of one and rarely can people ever just eat one. When we consider aspartame it has to be noted that aspartame is 200 times sweeter than table sugar. One article on Joseph Mercola’s website quotes the following “Similarly, one reason for aspartame's potential to cause weight gain is because phenylalanine and aspartic acid – the two amino acids that make up 90 percent of aspartame -- are known to stimulate the rapid release of insulin and leptin, which are both intricately involved with satiety and fat storage. Insulin and leptin are also the primary hormones that regulate your metabolism” What this basically means that irrespective of calories, artificial sweeteners can cause fat storage.

Here is the really interesting point, studies have been done that test whether people eat more when using diet drinks and cereals. Now these studies proved that no physical weight gain was demonstrated from the consumption of sweeteners but there was overconsumption due to people thinking that were eating less calories with the diet products, this the classic fast food meal with a diet coke situation.


As a personal trainer and weight loss expert, I appreciate that people are often desperate to lose weight. This means that we will do anything we can to achieve this. All I would say is just be careful when consuming anything that is a chemical and is linked to anything remotely scary. If you are concerned about your levels of aspartame consumption, please have a read of the below and research further article online.


How Diet Foods and Drinks Can Actually Cause, NOT Prevent Diabetes

Case report of aspartame-associated brain disease

Physiological mechanisms mediating aspartame-induced satiety