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The Truth About Artificial Sweeteners

Anyone who knows anything about Health and Fitness knows that the number one enemy of any dieter or trainer is sugar.  High levels of Glucose, Sucrose or Fructose causes fat storage, insulin sensitivity and increased hunger, eventually leading to obesity and possibly diabetes.  But sugar is so prevalent in most food we eat, how do we eliminate the bad and substitute something good? 

The answer lies in the yellow, pink or blue packets that accompany most white and brown packets at any local restaurant table.  They go by the names Splenda, Sweet’n Low and Equal, but the true players in this battle of insulin regulation are Sucralose, Saccharin and Aspartame.  Although an “unnatural chemical”, these sweeteners are considerable safer than Sucrose and High Fructose Corn Syrup which you will find in most sodas as well as the sugar you put in your coffee.  Although timely high glycemic carbohydrate consumption has been proven beneficial for physically active people, mainly before and after workouts, substituting an artificial sweetener in your nutritional plan will provide health benefits pure sugar just can’t match.

“Unnatural Chemical” Safety

Artificial Sweeteners have been around since 1879, but not until 1970 has there been concern for their use.  Saccharine-containing products contain warning labels about causing cancer in animals, but saccharine is now absent from many lists of carcinogens. Aspartame has been reported to cause brain tumors, yet it’s still an ingredient in nearly every “diet” food. What about Sucralose?  Get ready to put to rest the myths behind these artificial sweeteners and instill more confidence in their use. 

The New Breed of Sweetness



Sucralose, brand name Splenda, is the newest artificial sweetener on the market. It has made its way into a variety of food products, including soft drinks, ice cream, and candy bars.  It is 600 times sweeter than sucrose and has no calories, carbs, fat or protein and does not adversely affect insulin levels. It is manufactured by chlorinating sugar, which substitutes three chlorine atoms for three hydroxyl groups to produce 4,1′,6′-trichlorogalacto-sucrose.  Sucralose is simply passes throughout the body, and is not processed – merely consumed and secreted making it one of the safest artificial sweeteners available.  The brand name Splenda uses a combination of Sucralose and Maltodextrin, which gives it 2 calories per packet. Sucralose is suitable for all people, including diabetics.


Repeated dose study of Sucralose tolerance in human subjects.

Baird IM, Shephard NW, Merritt RJ, Hildick-Smith G.

Pine Court, Fairbourne, Cobham, ..:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 />Surrey KT11 2BT, UK.

There were two tolerance studies conducted in healthy human adult volunteers. The first study was an ascending dose study conducted in eight subjects, in which sucralose was administered at doses of 1, 2. 5, 5 and 10mg/kg at 48-hour intervals and followed by daily dosing at 2mg/kg for 3 days and 5mg/kg for 4 days. In the second study, subjects consumed either sucralose (n=77) or fructose (50g/day) (n=31) twice daily in single blind fashion. Sucralose dosage levels were 125mg/day for weeks 1-3, 250mg/day during weeks 4-7, and 500mg/day during weeks 8-12. No adverse experiences or clinically detectable effects were attributable to sucralose in either study. Similarly, hematology, serum biochemistry, urinalysis and EKG tracings were unaffected by sucralose administration. In the 13-week study, serial slit lamp ophthalmologic examination performed in a random subset of the study groups revealed no changes. Fasting and 2-hour post-dosing blood sucralose concentrations obtained daily during week 12 of the study revealed no rising trend for blood sucralose. Sucralose was well tolerated by human volunteers in single doses up to 10mg/kg/day and repeated doses increasing to 5mg/kg/day for 13 weeks.


Based on these studies and the extensive animal safety database, there is no indication that adverse effects on human health would occur from frequent or long-term exposure to sucralose at the maximum anticipated levels of intake.



Saccharin is the original artificial sweetener and you probably know it as the little pink packets on your table at ever restaurant. Saccharin is considered more of a first generation artificial sweetener, and doesn’t have a taste similar to sugar. It is 300 times as sweet as sucrose and can have a bitter taste if too much is used. Saccharin is not found in very much anymore in any type of processed food or drink. Saccharin has fallen out of favor; since the newer artificial sweeteners have emerged.  None the less, there has been some controversy in the past showing that saccharin gave rat’s urinary cancer. However, it was later shown that any type of cancer would only occur at high doses.


A data-derived safety (uncertainty) factor for the intense sweetener, Saccharin.

Renwick AG.

Clinical Pharmacology Group, University of Southampton, Bassett Crescent East, UK.

An increased incidence of bladder cancer is found when male rats are fed high dietary concentrations of sodium saccharin (3% or more) from birth. This toxicity has been used as the basis for the development of a data-derived safety factor. Such an effect would attract an extra factor (10-fold) for nature of toxicity and in the absence of other data would result in a high overall safety factor. However the extensive mechanistic database on sodium saccharin allows an assessment of the potential relevance of the effect for humans. In addition the effect is only seen under specific conditions in rats, i.e. largely with the sodium salt and with a commercial rat diet. The effect is not related to the concentration of saccharin in the rat urine or bladder so that toxicokinetic considerations are simplified. The extensive animal database allows the determination of data-derived factors for inter-species differences in both toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics. Based on this analysis an overall safety factor of 50 (which includes the factor of 10 for severity of effect) would appear appropriate at the present time. This factor, and the ADI which would result from its application, are consistent with the absence of an association between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and bladder cancer in humans.


There is no detectable association between artificial sweetener consumption and bladder cancer. The summary relative risk from a meta-analysis of all case-control studies approaches unity (RR .97). This analysis, in combination with new evidence for a unique mechanism of saccharin carcinogenicity in the male rat, leads to the conclusion that saccharin is not related to bladder cancer in humans (Elcock M, Morgan RW., Environmental Health Strategies, Inc., Redwood City, California 94065).




Aspartame, brand name Nutrasweet, has been an artificial sweetener in wide use since 1981. It is a derivative of the essential amino acid, phenylalanine, which is commonly found in most protein sources. It was discovered on accident when a chemist combined phenylalanine with aspartic acid (another amino acid), tasted it and determined it was sweet. Aspartame is 160 times sweetener than sucrose, and is commonly found in diet soft drinks and numerous food products. It has no calories, carbs, protein or fat and does not spike insulin levels, as sucrose does – making it safe for diabetic consumption.  There have been numerous claims that aspartame is dangerous and has caused heart attacks, brain tumors, cancer, and death.  The only proven issue with aspartame is with individuals who have a disorder known as “phenylketonuria”. Phenylketonuria is a human genetic disorder, in which the body does not contain the enzyme, phenylalanine hydroxylase, necessary to metabolize phenylalanine to tyrosine and converts phenylalanine instead to phenylpyruvic acid. Left untreated, phenylpyruvic acid can cause brain damage and progressive mental retardation as a result of its accumulation.  Other than that, Aspartame is one of the most clinically studied chemicals in the world, with an overall excellent safety profile.


Aspartame: review of safety.

Butchko HH, Stargel WW, Comer CP, Mayhew DA, Benninger C, Blackburn GL, de Sonneville LM, Geha RS, Hertelendy Z, Koestner A, Leon AS, Liepa GU, McMartin KE, Mendenhall CL, Munro IC, Novotny EJ, Renwick AG, Schiffman SS, Schomer DL, Shaywitz BA, Spiers PA, Tephly TR, Thomas JA, Trefz FK.

Medical and Scientific Affairs, The NutraSweet Company, Mt Prospect, Illinois 60056, USA.

Over 20 years have elapsed since aspartame was approved by regulatory agencies as a sweetener and flavor enhancer. The safety of aspartame and its metabolic constituents was established through extensive toxicology studies in laboratory animals, using much greater doses than people could possibly consume. Its safety was further confirmed through studies in several human subpopulations, including healthy infants, children, adolescents, and adults; obese individuals; diabetics; lactating women; and individuals heterozygous (PKUH) for the genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU) who have a decreased ability to metabolize the essential amino acid, phenylalanine. Several scientific issues continued to be raised after approval, largely as a concern for theoretical toxicity from its metabolic components–the amino acids, aspartate and phenylalanine, and methanol–even though dietary exposure to these components is much greater than from aspartame. Nonetheless, additional research, including evaluations of possible associations between aspartame and headaches, seizures, behavior, cognition, and mood as well as allergic-type reactions and use by potentially sensitive subpopulations, has continued after approval. These findings are reviewed here. The safety testing of aspartame has gone well beyond that required to evaluate the safety of a food additive.


When all the research on aspartame is examined as a whole, it is clear that aspartame is safe, and there are no unresolved questions regarding its safety under conditions of intended use.

A Safe Artificial Sweetener

All of these studies prove that Sucralose, Saccharin and Aspartame are safe to consume in our daily diets.  Without getting into other substitutes like Cyclamate, Acesulfame, Stevia and Sugar Alcohols, we can confidently choose an artificial sweetener that will taste almost exactly like sugar.  Whether it’s in our coffee, our diet sodas or anything else we need to eat for our rigorous diets, we can count on great sweet taste without the calories and insulin-spiking down sides.


About The Author


Mind-Muscle, or Jeff Harding, is the admin here at The Mind-Muscle Connection. He has had for over 5 years, with it home to Mind-Muscle Supplements for the past 4 years. Now, is all about information and results. Jeff's goal is to provide information to make achieving your goals an easier, more efficient process. He has been training since high school, where he weighed a measly 165. Gradually gaining weight and muscle, he now weighs in at 230 in the offseason and cuts to 210 shredded for the summer at 6'2". Although he has no plans to compete, Jeff has gained a broad range of knowledge in all areas of training, nutrition, cardio, supplementation and a winning mindset. Feel free to contact him through the "Contact Us" link at the top of the homepage.

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