If you think that using artificial sweetener instead of sugar in your coffee may help you lose weight, think again.
According to a study, sweeteners combined with a low carbohydrate diet can significantly increase the quantity of calories consumed.
The findings, led by researchers from the University of Sydney, revealed that switching to artificial sweeteners to boost the impact of a weight loss diet may be counterproductive because the sweeteners acutely suppress food intake, leading to a caloric debt.
For the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, the team offered fruit flies diets with varying amounts of carbohydrate and sweeteners.
The results showed flies that consumed artificial sweeteners alongside a low carbohydrate diet showed an immediate increase in food intake.
This increase varied according to the dose of sweeteners provided and was not observed in flies consuming unsweetened foods, the researchers said.
Previous research on flies and mice revealed that chronic consumption of artificial sweeteners increase the feelings of hunger due to a complex neuronal network that responds to artificially sweetened food by telling the animal it has not eaten enough energy.
In the new study, "we show that acute ingestion of sucralose in the context of a low-carbohydrate diet causes a pronounced increase in calories consumed", said lead researcher Greg Neely, Associate Professor at the University of Sydney.
"Although originally considered benign, a growing body of research including our own makes clear a connection between artificial sweeteners, hunger and food intake," Neely added.
However, the researchers noted that to fully understand the impact of artificial sweeteners on overall health, a systematic investigation of these effects on metabolism is required.
"Distorting the perceived energy value of food, by manipulating sweetness through artificial means, has unanticipated consequences in these animal studies" Neely said.