Is Splenda Good for a Low-calorie Diet?

Following a low-calorie diet means limiting sugar intake. This involves cutting back on sugary foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, non-diet soda, fruit juice and sports drinks. Sugar is loaded with calories, it can lead to dental problems, and it raises triglyceride levels in the blood. Using a sugar alternative such as Splenda may seem like a good idea when on a low-calorie diet; however, even artificial sweeteners need to be consumed in moderation.

To control weight, Splenda, or any artificial sweetener, should be used in moderation. (Image: chat9780/iStock/Getty Images)

What is Splenda?

Splenda, which is also called sucralose, is made by highly processing sugar to remove the calories and carbohydrates so that after being ingested, it passes through the body without being broken down for energy. Splenda is much sweeter than sugar, but it is low in calories, and the body does not treat it like a carbohydrate. It has been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration, and it may be part of a weight-loss plan, to help satisfy a sweet tooth. Since it is much sweeter than sugar, less of it is needed to create the same taste.

Weight Gain

While cutting back on sugar intake will also cut back on calorie consumption, consuming too many products with artificial sugars, such as Splenda, may actually contribute to weight gain. While much more research is needed, it appears that consuming artificial sugars may affect the brain much like regular sugar does. When the brain senses the consumption of sweetness, it sends signals that more food is needed. These signals will continue until a feeling of fullness is achieved. However, since artificial sweeteners like Splenda contain no calories and are not treated like carbohydrates, they do not lead to feelings of fullness, reports the Harvard School of Public Health. In the end, this may lead to eating more calories and weight gain.

Blood Sugar Control

If you are watching calorie and sugar intake because you have or are at risk for diabetes, substituting regular sugar with a product such as Splenda will reduce both calorie and carbohydrate consumption. Limiting intake of both can help to control blood sugar levels. However, caution must still be used, because during processing, additional ingredients may be added that do contain calories and carbohydrates. Products such as Splenda are allowed to advertise that they are calorie and carb free, because the content per serving is so low, states the American Diabetes Association. One packet of Splenda actually contains four calories plus a little less than 1 g of carbohydrate. If using more than one packet every day or if consuming foods made with Splenda, calorie and carb consumption can start to add up.

Solution

Using Splenda should be reserved for an occasional treat, as its use has not been proven to promote long-term weight loss, notes the Cleveland Clinic. Diet drinks and foods made with products containing Splenda are often empty-calorie foods, or calorie-free foods that offer little to no nutritional value. In addition, your health may be affected if you consume diet drinks in place of healthier alternatives such as water and low-fat milk. For good health, you need at least six to eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day; diet drinks do not help to meet that requirement. If you are craving sweets, home-baked goods using Splenda are a better option than store-bought products, and an occasional diet drink is usually OK for most. However, in the long run, it is best to limit all types of sweeteners from the diet, with the exception of naturally occurring sugars, which are found in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

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