Low Carb Diets Not So Sweet After All

By: MichelleS | Posted: 04th March 2010

There are two crucial problems with low-carb diets, and they both concern the artificial sweeteners so prevalent in the low carb diet world. Both the sugar alcohols and sucralose (Splenda) are threatening low-carb dieters with a whole host of new concerns.

The sugar alcohols known as maltitol, xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol are partially fermented substances that taste like sugar but are metabolized in a very different way, which leads to major gas, hours-long bloating, and even diarrhea in many people.

Mannitol is the worst culprit - it sits in the gut longer than any other sugar alcohol. As a result, if you treat yourself to two or three low-carb confectionary bars, you will have easily consumed 20 grams or more of the stuff that can cause diarrhea.

The intestinal problems are bad enough. But there's also a potential weight issue. Sugar alcohols are generally listed on the package as having zero carb content. If your metabolism cooperates, this may be true. But if you happen to be one of those people who metabolize sugar alcohols differently, you may be getting more carbs than you realise. If you're an insulin-resistant or otherwise carb-sensitive individual - a description that fits an estimated third of the population - you'll find yourself piling on the weight.

So if you're still counting carbs, you must read the labels on low carb diet snacks that contain sugar alcohols very carefully. Divide the amount of sugar alcohol by 3 and add the result to your carb count. In other words, a 'low-carb' or 'no-carb' snack cake with 15 grams of sugar alcohol should really be counted as having 5 grams of carbs.

But its not just the sugar alcohols that may threaten your weight. Sucralose is the sweetener of choice in every low-carb recipe book on the market today. It's used in every low-carb product where sugar alcohols aren't. As sucralose is a chlorinated sugar derivative, I suspect that it is related to our friends the chlorinated pesticides, a major source of xenoestrogens.

We used to think that sucralose passed through the system undigested, but now we know better. The latest estimates suggest that up to 40 per cent of the stuff is absorbed and probably stored - just like its xenoestrogen relatives - in your body fat. So my advice is Stay away from Splenda - and if you have been over consuming artificially sweetened foods, consider following a detox diet in the near future.

Other artificial sweeteners may also lead, ultimately, to weight gain. A provocative study by Professor Terry Davidson and Associate Professor Susan Swithers, psychologists working at the Ingestive Behavior Research Center at Purdue University, suggests that artificial sweeteners disrupt the body's natural ability to count calories.

In a study published in the July 2004 issue of the International Journal of Obesity, the researchers discovered that rats had a powerful response to sweetness. When they were given high-calorie sweet foods, they seemed able to regulate their intake, apparently because of some kind of internal calorie-counting mechanism that led them to read sweet foods as more caloric. But, the researchers found, when rats were given foods that had been artificially sweetened, the rodents quickly learned that the sweet taste was no cue to stop eating.

Then, ten days later, the rats used to eating artificially sweetened food were given a chance to eat a high-calorie chocolate-flavored snack. If you've ever overindulged in chocolate yourself, I bet you can guess what happened. The 'artificially sweetened' rats, used to eating as much sweet stuff as they wanted, overate on the high-cal chocolate.
The control group - rats used to only naturally sweetened foods - ate more moderately.

Likewise, the rats seemed to have an internal mechanism that led them to correlate viscosity - thickness - with calorie density. Rats given a kind of chocolate pudding seemed to gain less weight than those given a kind of chocolate milk, even though both substances had the same number of calories. Apparently, the thickness of the high-calorie food helped the first group of rats count calories. Again, if you've ever overdone it with fizzy or other sweet drinks, you'll know just how those rats felt.

These results led the researchers to express concern over the number of people consuming sugar-free sweetened products, which, in America, rose from less than 70 million in 1987 to more than 160 million in 2000. Over the same period, the consumption of regular soft drinks rose by 15 gallons per capita.

'Increased consumption of artificial sweeteners and of high-calorie beverages is not the sole cause of obesity, but it may be a contributing factor,' Swithers commented. 'It could become more of a factor as more people turn to artificial sweeteners as a means of weight control and, at the same time, others consume more high-calorie beverages to satisfy their cravings.'

Restrictive diets aren't necessarily the best things for your health, as their very nature makes it impossible to maintain long term. Following a healthy detox diet is far more beneficial to your health, and much easier to stick to for permanent benefits. Why not get started today with these body detox supplements.

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Tags: culprit, recipe book, sweetener, artificial sweeteners, low carb diets, low carb diet, diarrhea, sugar alcohol, intestinal problems