With all the myths and media hype about low-calorie sweeteners that are swirling around, if you are a person with diabetes, I bet you wonder if you’re wise to use them. As a long time dietitian and diabetes educator with extensive expertise in the research and practical use of low-calorie sweeteners, it’s important to me that you have accurate knowledge on this topic.
Here’s the bottom line upfront: YES, people with diabetes can safely use FDA-approved low-calorie sweeteners as part of a diabetes management plan, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).1,2
Your next logical question is likely: if it’s OK to use SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, how can you fit them into your diabetes diet plan.
Let’s bust a few myths and offer practical pointers to help you make your diabetes diet plan just a bit sweeter.
Myth: Low-calorie sweeteners raise blood glucose.
Fact: The sweetening ingredients in low-calorie sweeteners do not raise blood glucose.
More details: As part of FDA’s processes to allow ingredients in low-calorie sweeteners on the market, such as sucralose, the sweetening ingredient in the original SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, research is done to look at the effect of the ingredient on glucose control. The FDA approved sucralose way back in 1998 for use by the general public, including people with diabetes. Interestingly, a randomized control study (the gold standard in scientific research as a basis for recommendations) done with sucralose in men without diabetes, were given very large amounts of sucralose daily. The amount was equal roughly to the amount of added sugars from five 12-ounce cans of sugar-sweetened soda daily. The results showed that the participant’s glucose and A1c (the long-term measure of average glucose control) were within normal levels compared to people who didn’t consume the sucralose.3 “This publication also reviews the many other studies, including studies in people with diabetes, that show that sucralose has no effect on blood glucose control. All of this data collectively shows why the American Diabetes Association has supported the FDA’s safety reviews and reiterated support for low-calorie sweeteners in their annually updated standards of medical care.1
Myth: Low-calorie sweeteners disturb gut health, which in turn may cause changes that raise blood glucose.
Fact: The collective research done to date in humans does not show that low-calorie sweeteners, and specifically sucralose, cause changes in the gut which in turn increases blood glucose or impacts how the body regulates appetite.
More details: According to a 2016 review on this topic, the authors noted that while low-calorie sweeteners interact with certain gut receptors, this interaction does not lead to effects on overall blood glucose control or gut function. They also concluded that sucralose and several other low-calorie sweeteners had no greater effect than water on several gut hormones and appetite.4
Myth: Low-calorie sweeteners cause weight gain.
Fact: The research on low-calorie sweeteners has and continues to show that when people use them to replace the calories from calorie-containing sweeteners and regularly sweetened foods and beverages they can be a helpful tool to support weight loss and help people keep lost pounds off. But they aren’t a magic bullet for weight loss. They must be used in tandem with a healthy, calorie-conscious eating plan and sufficient physical activity.
More details: In the last few years a couple of in-depth reviews that consider many studies based on specific criteria have been done.5,6 In sum, these studies show positive findings for the value of low-calorie sweeteners in weight management, particularly based on the longer term randomized control studies. Several studies that observe a population of people and their use of low-calorie sweeteners over time have shown no weight loss or slight weight gain. Closer analysis of some of these studies, called prospective cohort or observational studies, often show that people who are more overweight or have more weight-related health conditions or risk factors use low-calorie sweeteners to try to manage these conditions. That doesn’t mean low-calorie sweeteners cause weight gain.
Now that we’ve busted through these key myths check out these practical pointers to fit SPLENDA® Sweetener Products into your diabetes diet plan.
Practical Pointers for Your Diabetes Diet Plan
I suggest you use SPLENDA® Sweetener Products with these four goals in mind:
- consume fewer total calories
- eat less added sugars
- decrease grams of carbohydrate
- satisfy your sweet tooth
Don’t use a sugar substitute or foods and beverages sweetened with them in addition to your current food and beverage choices. Instead, use them to REPLACE calories from foods and beverages sweetened with regular sweeteners, also known as added sugars. The most common example is using a SPLENDA® Sweetener Product to sweeten a hot or cold beverage instead of sugar or other full calorie sweetener. This one step can achieve each of the four goals!
Recipes that Fit Your Diabetes Diet Plan:
* Enjoy a sweet yet healthy treat like baked apples. Check out this recipe.
* Cure your boredom with water with this recipe for Fizzy Peach Lemonade. Make a big batch. Store it in a pitcher.
* Need a satisfy-your-sweet-tooth beverage to warm your insides? This Cinnamon Latte satisfies whether you drink it as an afternoon pick-me-up or an evening night cap (perhaps made with decaf coffee).
* Want a quick-to-sip on the run healthy smoothie for breakfast? Opt for this Banana Peanut Chocolate Smoothie.
* Want to please your holiday guests with a new spin on an old favorite? How about Holiday Cranberry Relish.
* Swap those full-sugar condiments, like barbecue sauce, for low calorie options that contain less added sugars. Take a look at this Sweet and Smoky Barbecue Sauce.
I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.
For more information about a diabetes diet plan, visit the Diabetes Management section of this blog.
Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, BC-ADM, is a nationally recognized dietitian and diabetes educator who applies more than 35 years of expertise as an author, freelance writer, media spokesperson, consultant and diabetes educator. Hope notes: “Healthy eating today is one tough job! The good news is that simple tweaks in your food choices and how you prepare foods can often set you on a path to healthier eating. Each positive step is a step in the right direction along the path to a long and healthy life.”
- American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes. Lifestyle Management. Diabetes Care 2017; 40 (Suppl. 1): S33-43.
- Evert A, Boucher J, et al. Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes. Diabetes Care: 2013;36(11):3821-3842.
- Grotz VL, et al. A 12-week randomized clinical trial investigating the potential for sucralose to affect glucose homeostasis. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 2017;88:22-33.
- Bryant C, Mclaughlin J: Low calorie sweeteners: Evidence remains lacking for effects on human gut function, Physiol Behav. 2016;164 (Suppl Part B) (482-485). Abstract: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938416301627
- Miller PE, Perez V: Low-calorie sweeteners and body weight and composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100:765-77.
- Rogers PJ, Hogenkamp PS, et al: Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies. Int J Obes. 2016;40:381-94.