Runner’s Zen: Sweet, Sweet Chemicals

Last week I wrote about the effects of too much sugar (in the form of high fructose corn syrup) on the body and how exactly a sugar of that sort is made. Thinking about that made me consider the chemicals a lot of us use to sweeten our food that isn’t sugar. I’m talking about the artificial sweetener’s that we use in our coffee’s, our soda’s, bubble gum and candy.

Artificial sweeteners have been quite popular in the media lately with recent studies finding that they are linked to cancer. however, do you know some of the other harmful effects artificial sweeteners have on your body? Do you even know all the different types of artificial sweeteners? You may not even know that you’re consuming some of them. Here is a list of the different names that artificial sweeteners have:

Acesulfame potassium
Neohesperidine dihydrochalcone
Aspartame-acesulfame salt

These are some of the artificial sweeteners that would appear in the foods you eat and are most likely under the names Splenda and Equal. If you’re trying to avoid these chemicals, then make sure you read labels closely. If you’re not the type to read labels closely, here are some foods that contain these chemicals that you may not have known: breakfast cereals, pre-made popcorn, yogurt, light/diet beverages, gum, cookies, sugar-free candies, cough drops and snack bars. Usually the products that are marketed as “light” or “diet” or “contains __% less sugar!” are the products that contain artificial sweeteners.

Now that you have a good idea of what foods to avoid, do you know why you need to avoid them? Lets take a look at some of the more major side effects of consuming too much of these chemicals.

Digestive Problems: Artificial sweeteners absorb slowly and incompletely in the digestive tract and may trigger some digestive symptoms such as gas, abdominal bloating and diarrhea.

Increased Appetite: According to the book Nutrition Guide for Physicians, research indicates that the more sweet foods a human consumes, the more they want to eat in excessive amounts. Artificial sweeteners are made to be sweeter than actual real sugar, so when we eat them our body craves even more sweet foods and eventually overeating sweet foods will lead to weight gain and insulin insensitivity/resistance.

Birth Defects: In some rare cases, artificial sweeteners have been linked to the rare disease called phenylketonuria (PKU) which makes it impossible for a person to process the amino acid phenylalanine. In addition, a study done in 2004 which was published in the journal Early Human Development, shows that infants that consume sucrose may possess less ability to sense or respond to pain. (source

Weight Gain: Research has repeatedly shown that artificial sweeteners cause weight gain despite the fact that they are a “no-cal” sugar replacement. Studies found that aspartame can stimulate your appetite, increase carb cravings, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain in the body. Aspartame has been found to be the worst of the chemicals, but the others do the same after a certain point.

Artificial sweeteners are an unnatural product made by humans that result in us purchasing more and more of these foods that are unhealthy, and that contribute to the obesity epidemic of today. If you’re looking for weight loss, stick to whole, natural foods that are unprocessed and fresh, along with a good exercise regime.

Stay healthy,


If you’d like to read more about the effect artificial sweeteners have on the body, read this article:

Happy Lifting!

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