Healthy Lifestyle

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in many foods and drinks. Some people believe that consuming aspartame can help with weight loss, but is this really true? In this article, we’ll explore the facts about aspartame and its impact on weight loss.

What is aspartame?

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is made up of two amino acids: phenylalanine and aspartic acid. It is commonly used as a sugar substitute in many foods and drinks, including diet sodas, chewing gum, and low-calorie desserts. It is much sweeter than sugar, so only a small amount is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness. It is also low in calories, which is why it is often used in weight loss products. However, there is some controversy surrounding the safety and effectiveness of aspartame for weight loss.

How does it affect weight loss?

While aspartame is low in calories and can be used as a sugar substitute in weight loss products, there is no evidence to suggest that it directly causes weight loss. In fact, some studies have suggested that consuming artificial sweeteners like aspartame may actually lead to weight gain. This could be because consuming sweet-tasting foods and drinks can increase cravings for other sweet foods, leading to overeating and weight gain. Additionally, some people may experience negative side effects from consuming it, such as headaches or digestive issues, which could impact their ability to stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine.

Aspartame could promote weight gain, according to one study

A team of researchers has found why aspartame could unexpectedly promote weight gain.

In their study, they showed how the breakdown product of this sweetener blocks the action of an enzyme capable of preventing metabolic syndrome – a group of symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

It would rather make you gain weight, contrary to popular belief. Thus, the American team from Harvard University showed that mice following a balanced diet and drinking water containing this sweetener developed a metabolic syndrome, compared to those not consuming the sweetener. The amount of aspartame ingested corresponded to 3 and a half cans of diet soda per day for a human.

The same phenomenon was observed when the mice ate a high-fat diet and drank water containing it, compared to those taking water without the sweetener.

An enzyme implicated
They observed that it blocks an enzyme – intestinal alkaline phosphatase – present in the intestine and involved in the prevention of metabolic syndrome.

Mice that took aspartame had higher blood sugar levels than those that did not, reflecting glucose intolerance.

The researchers also noted the elevated presence of an inflammation marker (TNF-alpha) that is associated with metabolic syndrome.

Source: Inhibition of the gut enzyme intestinal alkaline phosphatase may explain how aspartame promotes glucose intolerance and obesity in mice. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, December 2016.