By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
Have you ever successfully dieted for a lengthy period of time and then all of a sudden, you fell off the wagon?
There could be many reasons for the drop-off. Maybe you stopped dieting because of stress, changes at work, or maybe it was the time of year in which your normal daily routine was radically altered. Regardless of the type of lifestyle or stress-related changes incurred, another very plausible reason that you discontinued your healthy diet could be due to the fact you triggered your sweet tooth!
Artificial sweeteners interfere with your metabolism
There is a substantial amount of evidence to suggest that consuming non-nutritive sweeteners (artificial sweeteners which can be richer than sugar!) is linked to metabolic dysregulation. This means that consuming more sweeteners can mess up your body’s ability to metabolize and use nutrients on a daily basis. Whether you drink a lot of diet pop, sugar-free candy, etc., it is not the greatest for your metabolism.
The science behind this phenomenon is likely that sweeteners create a neuronal fasting response (i.e., makes you feel like your fasting) thus it triggers your brain to make you think you need to eat again. In the end, the derailment of your diet or healthy eating regimen may be due to the intake of artificially sweetened foods and beverages.
If you pay attention to how you feel after you eat candy, you almost instantly will crave more sweetened foods right after you eat the candy and then it takes a lot of will power and discipline to avoid eating or drinking more sweet foods. The cycle continues!
Avoid food triggers. Cheat meals create havoc!
The key to overcoming the urge is to avoid the trigger food or beverage altogether or exhibit a discipline in which you convince yourself “I am only going to eat one piece.” More often than not, eating sweetened foods as a cheat meal when dieting creates more havoc on your ability to stick to a healthy diet because the cheat meal triggers more bad food cravings.
The best approach to manage trigger foods is to first identify what foods or types of food triggers your indulging behavior. Then identify a plan that will work for you to avoid the trigger food altogether. Every person is different, so the key is to do what works for you!
Wang, Qiao-Ping, et al. “Sucralose promotes food intake through NPY and a neuronal fasting response.” Cell Metabolism 24.1 (2016): 75-90.
Daher, Mira I., Joane M. Matta, and Afif M. Abdel Nour. “Non-nutritive sweeteners and type 2 diabetes: Should we ring the bell?.” diabetes research and clinical practice (2019): 107786.
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