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Fueling the Obesity Epidemic: Artificial Sweetened Beverage Use and Long Term Weight Gain

I found this great article from the Journal “Obesity” today. It’s topic is one that is very relevant due to the huge amounts of artificial sweeteners in use today. There are some people who use those products because they think they are healthier. (Big Mistake!)

In the article, researchers from the University of Texas, Health Science Center examined the relationship between artificially sweetened beverage (ASB) use and long term weight gain. The researchers found that greater than 21 servings of artificial sweetener per week almost doubled (93%)the risk of being overweight and obese. The researches went so far as to say that artificial sweetener may be fueling our obesity epidemic.

One scary statistic mentioned was that over 6,000 products including foods, beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals contain aspartame alone, YIKES! Other interesting findings include the fact that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was 75% less in the ASB users compared to non users. Most importantly the percentage of calories from protein, total fat and saturated fat were significantly higher in AS sweetener users (which makes sense because the sweetened beverage users were eating more sugar/carbs.) However the researchers hypothesize that there may be appetite control damage going on in the users brain. They found that there was significant dose-response relationships with ASB consumption and obesity and higher body, mass index (BMI).

Another interesting finding was that artificial sweeteners are 180-13,000 times sweeter than sugar. The authors noted that this leads to “taste distortion” increasing one’s appetite for intensely sweet and high caloric foods.

In books by Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007) and Why We Get Fat (2011) he notes that studies have found that AS cause elevated insulin levels. Mr. Taubes taught us that elevated insulin levels upregulates the enzyme lipoprotein lipase which opens the door of the fat cell, increasing fat storage. :(

One of the other problems with artificial sweeteners is that NutraSweet (nutradeath as it is known around my house) is composed of 40% aspartate. Aspartate is toxic to your neurons. It seems that it is especially toxic to the neurons in the area of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which is responsible for leptin signaling among other things. Leptin signaling is what instructs our body to reduce food intake. Most importantly the researchers state that the earlier in age one is exposed to aspartate, the more profound the damage to the hypothalamus’s arcuate nucleus. (The hypothalamus is to link the nervous system to the endocrine system/hormone system).

Animal experiments have shown that in-utero exposure to aspartate produces offspring obesity and causes severe loss of neurons in the hypothalamus’s arcuate nucleus.

These results, together with the findings of increased lymphoma and leukemia in young rodents exposed to aspartame, should be carefully considered in your food and beverage choices. I personally learned about the devastating effects of Aspartame through my reading of books by Dr. Russell Blaylock. Dr. Blaylock was a trailblazer with his groundbreaking book titled Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.

Personally, I prefer not to drink my calories. That means water and tea are my primary beverages of choice. I am saving my calories for the yummy stuff.

The only sweetener besides sugar that my family consumes is Stevia. Stevia is an herbal sweetener that has been shown to be safe. I am told you do not want to bake with it.

One other tip that I have found useful is to eat at least 20 grams of protein at breakfast. It ensures proper production of leptin. Leptin is what makes you feel full and eat less. In my almost 24 years in practice analyzing nutrition, breakfast is the meal that Americans screw up more than any other meal.

If you want to lose weight easily, drop the carbs and the alcohol, increase the protein and veggies and workout. You need to perform weight training, especially with your legs. Your legs are the largest muscle group and therefore burn the most calories. For the ladies, a great program is Get In Shape for Women.

Another easy way to lose weight is through a program like our Ideal Protein. Ideal Protein is a regime where you learn how to eat for weight loss while using the foods to train your body to become a fat burning machine. I did a program last year and lost 15 in three weeks and I loved it. Check out our website and see if it could work for you.


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