Weight Loss: Diet drinks might “trick” your brain into eating.
When it comes to losing weight, people are more likely to opt for sugar-free foods and drinks, but for the latter, there are conflicting studies on diet drinks that help with weight loss. Despite their low calorie content, recent research has found that artificial sweeteners may not be as helpful in shedding pounds as some think.
During a new study from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, researchers specifically looked at the FDA-approved artificial sweetener sucralose, also known as Splenda.
They found that the non-nutritive sweetener (NNS), which is an ingredient in many diet drinks, actually “increases food cravings in women and people with obesity.”
This was compared to drinks containing sucrose, a natural sugar.
The study’s lead researcher, Kathleen Page, MD, explained that after their volunteers consumed the artificial sweetener, these two groups “had greater brain reward activity.”
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“Our study looked at different populations to find out some of the reasons for these conflicting results.”
The team used three methods to complete their research, using functional MRI brain images of the 74 study participants to document activation of parts of the brain associated with appetite and cravings.
They also used blood samples to measure blood sugar and metabolic hormones that can trigger hunger, and they tracked how much food participants were eating at the end of each study session.
Behavioral scientist at Purdue University Susan Swithers reviewed the results and believes the body is “tricked” into believing it is consuming sugar.
“But diet soda can lead to a breakup.”
Professor Swithers continued: “The sugar never arrives and this can dull the body’s anticipatory responses and impair the ability to efficiently metabolize sugars that are later consumed.
“That could mean that the sweet taste without sugar changes the reaction to sugar next time because you don’t know if it’s coming or not,” she said.