Are Artificial Sweeteners Good for Weight Loss?

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different type of artificial sweeteners laying on an orange background

Yes, artificial sweeteners are good for weight loss mainly because they don’t contain any sugar—obviously.

Plus, most of them are zero calories and don’t get processed in your body the same way natural sweeteners do.

This means that a lot of them aren’t even absorbed by your body and just get peed out (I’ll go into more detail on this later).

Even so, there are a few concerns about using foods and drinks with artificial sweeteners that might affect your weight loss.

The research is still going on, and we don’t have all the answers yet. But, as a nutritionist, my job is to give you the facts about artificial sweeteners, no matter what we might feel about them.

So, if you want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about artificial sweeteners and how they might impact weight loss, keep following along in this article.

Types Of Artificial Sweeteners

So artificial sweeteners is a broad term, let me list down the popular ones that are commonly used in sugar-free drinks and for cooking:

  • Aspartame – Found in products like Equal and NutraSweet, aspartame is one of the most common artificial sweeteners. It’s about 200 times sweeter than sugar and is often used in diet sodas, sugar-free gum, and low-calorie desserts. Aspartame is not suitable for cooking as it breaks down when heated.
  • Sucralose – Marketed under the brand name Splenda, sucralose is about 600 times sweeter than sugar. It is stable under heat, making it a favorite choice for use in cooking and baking.
  • Saccharin – Known by the brand names Sweet’N Low, Sweet Twin, and Necta Sweet, saccharin is the oldest artificial sweetener and is about 300 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. It is commonly used in tabletop sweeteners and diet drinks.
  • Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K) – Sold under brand names like Sunett and Sweet One, Ace-K is about 200 times sweeter than sugar and is often used in combination with other sweeteners to mask its slightly bitter aftertaste. It is heat stable, making it suitable for cooking and baking.
  • Neotame – As a derivative of aspartame, neotame is approximately 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar but without some of the phenylalanine content which makes aspartame unsuitable for people with phenylketonuria (PKU). Neotame is used in a variety of food and drink products.

    Neotame – As a derivative of aspartame, neotame is approximately 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar but without some of the phenylalanine content which makes aspartame unsuitable for people with phenylketonuria (PKU). Neotame is used in a variety of food and drink products.
  • Advantame – The newest addition to the artificial sweetener market, advantame is derived from aspartame and vanillin. It is about 20,000 times sweeter than sugar, making it the sweetest artificial sweetener approved by the FDA. It is used in a wide range of products including baked goods, non-alcoholic beverages, and as a tabletop sweetener.
  • Allulose – Although not technically an artificial sweetener because it’s a rare sugar naturally found in small quantities in foods like wheat, figs, and raisins, allulose is often grouped with low-calorie sweeteners due to its usage and benefits. It is about 70% as sweet as sucrose but contributes significantly fewer calories—approximately 0.2-0.4 calories per gram compared to sugar’s 4 calories per gram. Allulose has a taste and texture remarkably similar to sugar, making it popular in products aimed at mimicking the full-sugar experience without the associated caloric intake.

Potential Benefits Of Artificial Sweeteners For Weight Loss

The following are major benefits you could reap while using artificial sweeteners in a weight loss diet.

Your Calorie Intake Will Be Reduced

The biggest benefit of using artificial sweeteners is that they help you reduce the calories in foods and drinks that would normally be full of sugar and calories.

For instance, let’s say you switch from drinking regular soda to diet soda.

If you were drinking one classic can of sugar-sweetened Coke a day, which has 140 calories, and now you switch to Coke Zero or Diet Coke, you save those calories.

And from what I’ve seen, most people drink more than one can of soda a day. This means you could potentially be saving between 140 to 500 calories just by cutting out the sugary drinks, which only give you sugar and nothing else.

When you’re on a weight loss diet, you are usually trying to eat fewer calories than your body needs. This is called a caloric deficit diet. It helps your body use stored fat for energy because you’re not eating enough calories to maintain your current weight.

Drinking sugary drinks and eating desserts that are high in calories can make it hard to keep up this calorie deficit.

Since drinking something sweet can happen so quickly and effortlessly compared to eating solid food—which takes time—you can end up consuming a lot of extra calories without realizing it. That’s why many nutritionists say “Don’t drink your calories,” a piece of advice I also support.

Won’t Spike Blood Sugar

Artificial sweeteners don’t have sugar or any other nutrients, which means they don’t make your blood sugar go up.

Why is this good for losing weight? Here’s what happens when you drink a can of sugary soda or fruit juice: the sugar in these drinks (sucrose) has to be broken down into glucose and fructose.

Once it’s broken down, your blood sugar will spike because of these sugars.

To move the sugar from your blood to your cells where it can be used for energy, your body releases a hormone called insulin from the pancreas.

This is all normal, but here’s the catch: as long as insulin is doing its job moving glucose to your cells, your body can’t burn fat. It’s in storage mode instead. The more sugar you consume, the longer it takes your body to process it.

If you have more sugar in your blood than what your cells need for energy, it will turn into fat and be stored in your fat tissue.

I know that’s a lot to take in, but with artificial sweeteners, none of these problems happen. Not all artificial sweeteners are processed the same way in your body, but most of them have very little or no effect on your blood sugar.

They are metabolized in a completely different way. So, you don’t have to worry about sugar spikes or the sugar being stored as fat if you’re drinking a soda made with artificial sweeteners.

May Suppress Hunger

The role of artificial sweeteners in hunger suppression is complex and somewhat controversial. Some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may help reduce calorie intake by suppressing appetite.

The theory is that the sweet taste can provide a satiety signal to the brain, which helps reduce the desire to eat more.

But as I said at the beginning of the article, a lot of research in this field is ongoing, so take this one with a grain of salt.

Some of you may feel less hungry, say after drinking a diet soda, 30 minutes before you eat your lunch or dinner. Could this effect definitely come from the aspartame in there or is it the fluid that is tricking your brain that you are eating something (because that’s also a thing)?

The answer is we don’t know for sure.

The effect of artificial sweeteners on hunger may depend on the individual’s unique physiological response and psychological expectations.

It’s important to monitor personal responses to artificial sweeteners and adjust their use accordingly.

Will Keep Your Diet Interesting Because of the Sweetness They Provide

The first thing that goes out the window or must at least be substantially reduced when you are on a weight loss diet is sugar and sugar-containing drinks and foods.

This change is not easy to adhere to for everyone. It can make your diet less enjoyable, almost as if your diet was a chair and you took away its legs. Thus making the diet harder to stick to.

It’s a bit like how dogs react to their regular food; they’ll eat it because they’re hungry, but they’d much prefer other tastier treats. (Sorry for the odd comparison!)

So using artificially sweetened drinks and sugar-free foods may help keep your diet interesting and enjoyable.

This way, you can enjoy treats like a sugar-free cake without feeling guilty or worrying about how many calories you’re consuming.

Staying consistent with your diet is very important if you want to reach your weight loss goals. If your diet is too strict and you feel like you’re missing out on all the tasty treats you used to enjoy, you might end up giving in to your cravings.

Using artificial sweeteners in the foods you like can help satisfy your sweet cravings while still sticking to your diet goals. This can make your diet easier to maintain over the long term.

Potential Downsides of Artificial Sweeteners for Weight Loss

Here are some potential downsides to consider when using artificial sweeteners for weight loss:

Potential for Overusing Them

Because artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar but contain few or no calories, there’s a risk that individuals might overuse them.

This overuse can occur because people may feel that they can consume more of a product since it is “calorie-free” or “diet.”

However, this can lead to excessive consumption of other non-nutritive ingredients in these products, such as caffeine in diet sodas or additives in sugar-free snacks, which may not be beneficial for overall health.

Furthermore, overuse can perpetuate a habit of craving and relying on sweet flavors, potentially making it more challenging to enjoy naturally sweet foods like fruits or to appreciate less sweet flavors, which are often the healthier choices.

May Cause a Cephalic Insulin Response

Some research suggests that the sweet taste of artificial sweeteners, even though they don’t contain glucose, can still trigger a response called the cephalic phase insulin response (CPIR).

The CPIR is when your body releases insulin because it thinks it’s about to get food. This happens because of sensory triggers like the taste, smell, or sight of food. The insulin release prepares your body to handle sugars from the food you eat.

But when you consume artificial sweeteners, you’re not actually eating any real sugar. So, your body is tricked into thinking sugar is coming because of the sweetness you taste, but no sugar arrives. However, a little insulin is still released.

This insulin acts on your blood sugar, lowering it even more. When your blood sugar drops, your body wants to stabilize it, which can make you feel hungry.

This might lead to overeating which can hinder your weight loss efforts.

It’s also important to note that the research on this topic is not complete, and not all artificial sweeteners cause this insulin release. But it’s something to keep in mind.

The Research is Unclear

I notice new research about artificial sweeteners being shared on social media every now and then, which always starts a debate among health experts.

Take, for example, the recent guideline from the World Health Organization (WHO), which advises against using non-sugar sweeteners like aspartame or stevia to manage weight or to prevent diseases like diabetes.

They discovered that these sweeteners don’t really help reduce body fat over the long term and might even increase health risks, such as the chances of developing diabetes or heart disease.

There’s also another study from WHO suggesting that artificial sweeteners like aspartame could possibly increase the risk of cancer.

However, shortly after this information was released, the FDA countered these claims. They stated that aspartame is safe to use in moderation. This statement was based on studies where the subjects were consuming between 9 to 14 cans of diet soda daily.

So, the research is still unclear, with studies constantly contradicting each other, and it’s hard to say for sure about the long-term safety of these sweeteners.

Tips For Using Artificial Sweeteners in a Weight Loss Diet

There are a few things i would like to keep in mind while using artificial sweeteners or using artificially sweetened drinks.

Use in Moderation

The key to using artificial sweeteners effectively is moderation.

While these sweeteners are free from calories, they are significantly sweeter than regular sugar, which can alter your taste preferences over time, making naturally sweet foods seem less appealing.

Using artificial sweeteners sparingly helps prevent the development of a heightened preference for sweet tastes, which could lead to increased sugar cravings or overconsumption of other sweetened foods.

Moderation also helps mitigate any potential negative effects from excessive consumption, such as digestive issues or disrupting the natural gut microbiota.

Use Them to Reduce Sugar Gradually

Artificial sweeteners can be a valuable tool in reducing your sugar intake gradually. For many people, cutting out sugar abruptly can be challenging due to withdrawal symptoms like cravings and mood swings.

Artificial sweeteners can ease this transition by maintaining the sweetness in your diet without the high-calorie count.

Start by replacing a portion of the sugar you would normally use with an artificial sweetener.

Over time, you can gradually decrease the amount of sweetener as well, training your palate to enjoy foods that are less sweet.

This gradual reduction can help minimize the reliance on sweet flavors overall, aiding in long-term dietary changes and healthier eating habits.

Opt for Natural Sweeteners When Possible

While artificial sweeteners are useful, opting for natural sweeteners can be a healthier choice for many.

Natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, and allulose are derived from plants and offer the sweetness of sugar with fewer calories and minimal impact on blood sugar levels.

These sweeteners often come with additional health benefits compared to synthetic options and are less likely to cause adverse effects.

For example, stevia has been found to have antioxidant properties, and monk fruit sweeteners contain mogrosides, which can exert anti-inflammatory effects.

Choosing natural sweeteners can be particularly beneficial for those looking to maintain a more natural diet without sacrificing sweetness.

Alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners for Weight Loss

For those looking to reduce sugar intake but who are cautious about using artificial sweeteners, there are several natural and healthier alternatives that can aid in weight loss efforts. Here’s a look at some popular choices:


Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant.

It contains zero calories and has no impact on blood glucose levels, making it an excellent choice for those managing diabetes or looking to reduce calorie intake.

Stevia is much sweeter than sugar, so only a small amount is needed, which helps prevent the excess calorie consumption associated with sugar.

Monk Fruit Sweetener

Monk fruit, also known as Luo Han Guo, is a natural sweetener that derives its sweetness from natural compounds called mogrosides.

Like stevia, monk fruit sweetener contains zero calories and does not raise blood sugar levels.

It’s ideal for baking and cooking due to its stability under heat and is becoming increasingly popular in a variety of sugar-free and low-calorie products.


Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that contains about 0.24 calories per gram, which is significantly lower than the 4 calories per gram found in sugar.

It has 70% of the sweetness of sugar and does not impact blood glucose or insulin levels, making it another favorable option for weight management.

Erythritol is often used in combination with other sweeteners to improve the taste profile.


Another sugar alcohol, xylitol is as sweet as sugar but contains 40% fewer calories. While it has a small impact on blood sugar, it is much lower compared to regular sugar.

Xylitol is particularly popular in chewing gums and dental care products because of its ability to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Yacon Syrup

Yacon syrup is extracted from the tuberous roots of the Yacon plant, native to South America. It is high in fructooligosaccharides, a type of fiber that the human body cannot digest.

This means it provides sweetness with fewer calories and has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels.

Yacon syrup is particularly beneficial for weight loss because it also helps promote the feeling of fullness and supports healthy digestion.

Agave Nectar

While agave nectar contains more calories than the other alternatives listed, it is sweeter than sugar, so less can be used to achieve the desired sweetness.

It has a lower glycemic index than sugar, which means it doesn’t cause a rapid spike in blood sugar.

However, it should be used sparingly due to its high fructose content, which can be counterproductive in large amounts.


Yes, artificial sweeteners can be good for weight loss because if you use products that are sugar-free instead of those made with sugar, you’ll save a lot of calories.

This means you can still enjoy your favorite drinks and sweets without the extra calories.

But, like I said, you need to be careful how much you use them.

We still don’t know everything about artificial sweeteners, so you don’t want to use them too much and risk any bad side effects that could affect your overall health.


Are artificial sweeteners okay for weight loss?

Yes, artificial sweeteners can be okay for weight loss as they help reduce calorie intake from sugars.

What is the best sweetener to lose weight?

Stevia is often considered the best sweetener for weight loss because it is calorie-free, does not affect blood sugar levels, and is derived from a natural source.

Are artificial sweeteners worse for you than sugar?

It depends on individual health goals and conditions. Artificial sweeteners do not contribute to tooth decay or blood sugar spikes like sugar does, but they can have other potential side effects and may affect gut health negatively.

Can artificial sweeteners keep us from gaining weight?

Yes, artificial sweeteners can help prevent weight gain by reducing overall calorie intake when used as a substitute for sugar. However, their effectiveness can vary based on individual dietary habits and lifestyle.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission for purchases made through links at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Rahul is a professional nutritionist certified by the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and a personal trainer certified through the American Council of Exercise (ACE). He has a special interest in the science of nutrition and how it can impact the body.

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