It has been engrained in most of our heads at this point that we should try to cut down on sugar. So if you like sweetness but don't want the added sugar or calories, artificial sweeteners seem like a good solution, right? For a long time, artificial sweeteners have been popular among those trying to lose weight. However, artificial sugar can actually negatively affect weight, appetite, blood sugar levels, and insulin levels.

Weight and Appetite

beer, coffee, tea, pizza
Meghan Flynn

Given that artificially sweetened food and beverages taste sweet but lack the calories found in other sweet-tasting foods, they are thought to confuse the brain into still feeling hungry. It's like when you chew gum, your body is expecting calories and nourishment, but it never receives that, so you get hungrier. Thus, fake sugars can actually increase appetite.

Additionally, it has been suggested that these sweeteners increase your cravings for sweetness, and they could actually lead one to consume more sugar. Therefore, these fake sugars that people use to aid in weight loss could actually be making it more difficult for them to lose weight.

Blood Sugar

Diet, coke, Coca-Cola, dietcoke, City, Skyline
Tess Tarantino

In 2014, Israeli scientists linked artificial sweeteners to changes in gut bacteria. When mice were fed artificial sweeteners for 11 weeks, they had negative changes in their gut bacteria which increased blood sugar levels. The study shows that adding saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame to the drinking water of mice induces blood sugar levels that are higher than those of mice who drink sugar water. Of course, this does not necessarily indicate that the exact same thing happens with humans, but it definitely raises some concerns.

So, why is high blood sugar bad? Hyperglycemia, which can be described as consistently high blood sugar, can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs. This can in turn increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, nerve problems, and kidney problems. The few extra calories that you would consume from normal sugar are absolutely worth it when you compare the potential dangers of artificial sugar. 


salt, cereal, sweet, rice
Aakanksha Joshi

When our blood sugar or glucose levels rise, our body releases insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is used to regulate blood glucose. Once insulin is released after a meal, it allows the sugar to leave the blood and enter our cells to be used for energy. However, small amounts of insulin are released before any sugar enters the blood. This is called the cephalic phase which is triggered by the sight, smell, or taste of food. 

There are a couple of theories as to how insulin could be released upon ingestion of artificial sugar. The first one is that artificial sugar triggers the cephalic response and increases insulin levels. The other theory is that regular use of artificial sweeteners will change the balance of gut bacteria. This could cause our cells to be insulin resistant, which would of course increase blood sugar.

A few years ago, I was putting Splenda in my coffee and tea every single day and drinking diet soda regularly. However, since I have learned about all of the potential dangers that come with regularly using artificial sweeteners, I have made the switch to regular sugar. 

So, while people think that using zero-calorie sugar will help them control their weight, it could actually have the opposite effect and increase one's appetite, leading to weight gain. Additionally, a few extra calories in your coffee is infinitely better for you than throwing off your gut bacteria balance, which could lead to insulin resistance as well as increased blood sugar. Ultimately, I'd argue that using sugar in moderation is a better choice than using artificial sweetener regularly. This is because your body knows exactly how to handle natural sugar, but not the chemicals that do not belong there.