The “diet” choice might not actually help your diet goals at all: artificial, zero-calorie sweeteners may not help you lose weight—and they may actually contribute to packing on the pounds, according to a new meta-analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
One reason? Artificial sweeteners taste much sweeter than regular sugar—up to 1,000 times as much, in fact. When you take in that sweet taste, your body thinks high-energy food is to follow, Dr Yanina Pepino, a researcher at the Washington University School of Medicine explains. So it triggers a hormonal response to prepare for it.
When you don’t get that calorie surge, your body may feel less satisfied—triggering our appetites and possibly prompting us to search for more substantial food.
Still, there are a lot of uncertainties about artificial sweeteners and weight gain, and some studies continue to show conflicting results with it. So while more research does need to be done, it doesn’t hurt to work on reducing the added stuff from your diet—whether zero-calorie artificial sweeteners or regular sugar.
Start by gradually reducing the amount of sweetener you use to give your taste buds time to adjust, says Kelley Bradshaw, a dietitian in the Center for Endocrinology, Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center. The process could take anywhere from a few months to a year.
This story was originally published on Menshealth.com