My Journey from Pudgy to "Perfect": Sugar Substitutes


What’s the Skinny on Sugar Substitutes?

I eat sugar.  It goes into my coffee and the occasional cookie (well, OK, maybe a little more than occasional ;-)).  Why do I still eat sugar?  One reason is because it’s hard to find things that don’t have some form of added sugar.  Another reason is because I refuse (as far as it is incumbent upon me) to eat artificial sugar substitutes.  I’d rather reduce my intake or find a natural alternative than fill my body with chemicals that our bodies were not intended to consume.

Sugar substitutes come in two varieties artificial/synthetic (sucralose, aspartame, saccharin) and natural (stevia, agave nectar, honey).  When it comes to calories – a calorie, is a calorie, is a calorie – you have to be careful that the sweetener you choose isn’t actually increasing your calorie intake if your goal is weight loss.  Honey is pretty hefty in the calorie department per serving at 60 calories per tablespoon.  Unfortunately, I need at least a tablespoon, or two, to match the sweetness I’m used to in teas and coffee plus the honey imparts a different flavor that not everyone will enjoy.  Agave nectar is a good substitute if you can control your portions as well and get the cold pressed.  If you do some research you will learn agave nectar can be processed in different ways and each product will affect the body differently.  Finding the right one for you can be an expensive proposition.   I personally use stevia when I am making tea, lemonade, limeade or sugar-free soda (club soda flavored with lime/lemon).  I’ve tried it in coffee and do not care for the flavor it imparts in the coffee.  In the end I found that brown sugar is the best substitute for granulated white sugar for  me because it’s taste is similar enough and has 4 fewer calories per teaspoon.  Moderation is still the key.

As far as it is possible I steer clear of artificial sugar substitutes.  Not only do I not enjoy their flavor I do not appreciate their affect on the body.  Aspartame, acesulfame-K, sucralose and saccharin give me headaches.  Sucralose (aka, Splenda) causes intestinal discomfort (sometimes diarrhea) and stomach pain for me.  One thing I have learned about how the body functions is that anything consumed that is foreign or considered a chemical ends up being processed on the liver.  The liver takes a major role in normal digestion, but when something is not recognized as food the liver takes the full brunt of processing and removing the ‘invader’ from the body.

Research has also shown that consuming artificial sweeteners  may cause you to crave more sugar.  If you end up consuming more sugar you will negate any weight loss benefits from eating sugar-free sodas, candies or other supplements.  You shouldn’t consider ‘diet’ sodas or candies as some kind of magic bullet either that allows you to consume the mega portion of fries or a giant slice of chocolate cake.  I’d rather have a little bit of a good thing across the board that too much of a bad thing once in a while.

I’ve often thought about how much harder processed and artificial foods make our bodies work.  We have so many options as far as food and somehow though we are well fed we may not be well-nourished.  Though I do appreciate what technological advances have done to make our lives easier sometimes I wonder if we have gone too far away from what we were intended to be, do and eat.




Medical News Today

Science Daily

photo credit: romsrini via photopin cc

4 comments for “My Journey from Pudgy to "Perfect": Sugar Substitutes

  1. April 12, 2013 at 2:51 am

    Thankfully sugars work differently, same as oils – not all fats are the same and not all fat will equal fat in the body, some are far more digestible than others. For example, pure apple sauce, raisins, dried fruits, dried fruit syrups as sweeteners will not turn to fat and can be diabetic friendly – whereas raw cane sugar, demerara, molasses and muscavado sugars from sugar cane and sugar beet are still healthy but in smaller amounts. I also use coconut water and grape juice to sweeten or if I want a milder taste go for coconut milk or cinnamon mixed with a choice of natural sweetener. Same goes for oils e.g. 2tsp of coconut oil a day (or 2-3 times a week as part of a healthy diet) can help with weight loss and maintenance.
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    • April 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      Thank you for this insight. I had never heard of demerara or muscavado. Grape juice is a little dangerous for me for some reason it makes me very sick. Coconut water to sweeten? I’d never tried that; gonna have to find some. My favorite tea is from Celestial Seasonings called Bengal Spice. It’s my favorite because the natural sweetness from the cinnamon makes it completely unnecessary to add any sweeteners.

      I appreciate that you bring up diabetic friendly as well because I’ve been told be several different manufacturers that they were not allowed to call their product diabetic friendly just by using natural sweeteners like stevia. The FDA required them to add sucralose, or something similar, to the product in order to qualify to be labeled diabetic friendly. Such a disappointment. That stuff tears me up (sucralose aka Splenda).

      As for the coconut oil, not only is that good for weight loss it’s also a natural antibacterial and great for shoring up your immune system.

  2. ANN*H
    April 16, 2013 at 12:27 am

    Wow I have learned alot by reading your posting about sugar substitues. My son who has diabetes must use splenda or such if he wants sugar. I found alot of them do not taste like sugar and alot of them you can not use to bake with so its really hard to find something he likes. And you hear so much about some of them not being good for you . I like sugar too but dont usually use alot of it it comes mostly in foods I eat. Interesting what you said about brown sugar and white sugar. thanks for all the info

  3. Taylor Shannon
    April 17, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I too do not care for the taste of Stevia in my coffee. Most artificial sweetners scare me, to be honest.

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