Going Sweetless

New research out on Splenda, one of the popular artificial sweeteners. And Dr. Mercola has done a review of the study.

There’s overwhelming evidence that consuming artificial sweeteners will likely wreak havoc on your body. Previous news has centered mainly around artificial sweeteners’ ability to impair your appetite regulation and leading to weight gain.

For example, it’s been discovered that diet soda increases your risk of metabolic syndrome and, ultimately, heart disease.

However, the study mentioned above, published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, found even further disturbing news besides weight gain. Splenda:

  • reduces the amount of good bacteria in your intestines by 50 percent
  • increases the pH level in your intestines, and
  • affects a glycoprotein in your body that can have crucial health effects, particularly if you’re on certain medications

They also found unmistakable evidence that Splenda is absorbed by fat, contrary to previous claims.

I've been mostly "sweetless" for quite a while, now, and don't miss it a bit. The reason for not using them had nothing to do with the foregoing new information, however, but because they will tend to stall your fat loss or even cause you to put on fat even in the midst of an ultra-low-carb diet. As Mercola explains:

The belief that consuming artificially sweetened foods and drinks will help you to lose or maintain weight is a carefully orchestrated deception. So if you are still opting for diet choices for this reason, please understand that you have been sorely misled.

In reality, these diet foods and drinks can cause serious distortions in your biochemistry and ruin your body's ability to control calories. As a matter of fact, it’s been shown that diet soft drinks can double your risk of obesity!

Nearly a decade ago, studies were already revealing that artificial sweeteners can:

  • Stimulate your appetite
  • Increase carbohydrate cravings
  • Stimulate fat storage and weight gain

Unfortunately, most public health agencies and nutritionists in the United States still recommend these toxic artificial sweeteners as an acceptable alternative to sugar.

That was enough for me to avoid them as much as possible (I've maybe had 2-3 diet sodas in the last year), but with this new information I think I'll just stick to my unsweetened coffee, unsweetened tea (hot & cold), and my most favorite of all: San Pelegrino.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Andy on February 10, 2009 at 20:06

    I'm not surprised that artificial sweetners cause problems. I had read somewhere that they were indeed actually worse than real sugar. The logic being that as soon as the sweetness hits the tongue, the cells get ready for the sugar intake (yeah, party!). However, it's all a tease. They never get their fix, and now they are not happy which utimately leads to a worse sugar craving.

    Sorry I can't cite a reference, but it seems to make sense.

  2. Chris - ZTF on February 10, 2009 at 22:59

    Pretty scary stuff thanks for posting this. I have pretty much cut out all artificial sweeteners except the odd piece of chewing gum. Feel much better for it too and one of the first things I noticed oddly enough was improved digestive health…….Makes a lot of sense!

  3. Mike on February 10, 2009 at 16:26

    hi Richard,

    I was planning on being mostly good for my birthday. I requested a cake made with Splenda to avoid all the sugar. So, assuming one were to indulge in cake and ice cream, which is the better option? Sugar or Splenda? Something else?

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Bryan-oz4caster on February 10, 2009 at 16:32

    Many years ago when I switched from regular soda to diet soda, I continued gaining weight. When I first tried low-carb about four years ago, I continued drinking diet soda and began buying processed "low-carb" foods that were usually full of splenda. The worst was low-carb ice cream. I used to splurge on it over the weekends and the gas I got from it was tremendous. Looking back, that no doubt was from feeding bad microbes in the gut. Needless to say, I didn't lose much weight until about three years ago when I found Mercola and WAPF and totally broke my sugar addiction (I had been cheating on weekends) and went to a home-made traditional fairly low-carb diet. Since then, I've lost 40 pounds and I'm finally close to a comfortable weight. The last 20 pounds came off with the added help of 18/6 IF. Moral of story: skip the artificial sweeteners and any added sugar!

  5. Vera on February 10, 2009 at 18:02

    Ack! I guess we'll just have to lay off on the sugar altogether, and forget about artificial sweeteners. There is a locally produced sugar substitute here called Halo. I wonder what their main ingredients are…

  6. Chris H on February 11, 2009 at 01:35

    Thanks for pointing this out Richard – interesting stuff. People need to stick to real food

    A related study here abtuo how the taste of sweet might have an impact on metabolism


  7. Minneapolis J on February 10, 2009 at 23:30

    there are no short cuts in life. Cut out the sweet things and replica sweeteners. It is just plain stupid, get used to liking NATURAL.

  8. Monica on February 10, 2009 at 17:52

    Yikes. Just eat sugar… if you must. Yeesh. I do have Splenda in my house (it is the one frankenfood I put in homemade ice cream once every few months or so), but yet again we see the unintended effects of a completely foreign chemical with no evolutionary history on a complex living system. The precautionary principle applies. In other words, do not deviate from a natural course until we know more — or at least unless you have a very good reason for doing so. Oy.

    I've always been skeptical of Splenda ever since I learned that it's an organochlorine compound.

  9. TrailGrrl on February 11, 2009 at 14:22

    I was even worse on diet pepsi with aspartame. I had no cut-off valve… just like a person who chain smokes. The way I kicked was to have a can of regular soda and the rest of the day drink water, and not keep any soda at all at home. After a day or two, I would only want a few sips of Coke for the bubbly and to allay my caffeine withdrawal fear. I doubt it's really caffeine withdrawal in reality… it's the sweetener withdrawal. Then eventually I started to prefer the taste of plain water to everything else. I know it sounds weird to use sugar to get off of sugar and sugar-free sweets, but it worked. I'm guessing it's mostly psychological, but some of the sweetener dependence I think is physiological too. One thing for sure, when you get off of the artificial sweeteners you feel a lot better and your mood isn't so variable, and your sleep pattern is much improved (it feels like you REM and dream all night for long blocks of very detailed dreams).

    I feel a lot more confident too, not being chained to an addiction (Omigod I'm on Delta airlines and they only serve Coke products and I HATE Diet Coke) or looking for a place to get a six-pack to keep in the hotel room. It's very freeing and liberating. And as Marc points out, your stomach feels a lot better!!

    If you like San Pelegrino water, give Ramlosa (from Sweden) a try. I never cared much for mineral water until I got hooked on the blue bottle.


  10. Leniza on February 11, 2009 at 10:30

    That explains why Splenda started giving me stomach cramps after a while. I started using it the first time I went low carb, but even before that I was always wary of artificial sweeteners (and stuff processed to be low/non-fat), because it just made sense to me a natural food would be better than something manufactured in a lab.

    I mostly do without sweets now, but if I indulge I just go ahead and have real sugar. No point in indulging if it's fake stuff.

  11. Sam on February 11, 2009 at 12:45

    Ummm… hold on a moment. I'm not a fan of artificial (or natural, for that matter…) sweeteners but note that the study did NOT examine sucralose.

    It examined Splenda, which contains sucralose, maltodextrin, and glucose (as mentioned in the abstract). The sugars might be the agents responsible for the effects noted – in fact, it seems pretty plausible as an explanation for the reduction in so-called "good" gut bacteria. Sugars allow other species of bacteria to flourish at the expense of the "good", for example.

    I'd like to see the equivalent study using pure sucralose and see what's up with that. Pure sucralose (or nearly so) is available in powder form now or in liquid (ie, sweetzfree or ez-sweetz).

  12. Marc Feel Good Eating on February 11, 2009 at 13:54

    Years ago Diet Coke used to cause HAVOC on my stomach!
    It's evil stuff. STAW AWAY!

    Thanks for the good post Richard.

  13. Richard Nikoley on February 11, 2009 at 08:33

    I occasionally use honey as a sweetener. Not often, and not much, but it is a natural food that Primals would have found and eaten from time to time.

  14. Richard Nikoley on February 11, 2009 at 13:02

    Interesting point, Sam. Thanks.

    All the more reason to just kick the sweet habit altogether. Thankfully, that one was easy for me. While I can enjoy candy as much as the next guy (English toffee is tops, Sees peanut brittle not far behind), I never really went out of my way to obtain it, even as a fatty. I always drank coffee black, and could take hot or iced tea without sweet as well.

    Good for me, with so many other issues to deal with.

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