It’s true that artificial sweeteners, like those commonly found in diet soda and low-cal foods, contain far fewer calories than regular sugar. However, new studies have shown that, calories aside, artificial sweeteners are closely linked to an increase in overeating, weight gain and many other health issues.

The reason for these results stem, at least partially, from the very same reason that artificial sweeteners have become so popular: they taste like sugar, but are not real sugar.

When you eat or drink something with artificial sweeteners in it, your tongue is not the only thing that is fooled. Because it thinks you are eating sugar, your GI system begins preparations to process and store it. However, the fake sugar will go right through your body without it ever getting the real sugar that it thought was coming. This means you can have a sugar craving following your meal because the body sends out signals that its needs were never met.

Obviously, this is an easy reason for overeating, but it’s not the only one. Your brain’s “rewards” system releases various substances like dopamine when you eat. It’s what makes eating feel so pleasurable. As we eat more food, our feelings of pleasure began to go away. This is a good thing! It means we are no longer hungry and should stop eating.

Artificial sweeteners do not stop the reward sensations to the same degree, though. This means you can be full from food, but still feel good when you’re eating it!

Combined with sugar cravings from your GI system, the reward sensation is a constant push towards sabotaging your diet and causing numerous health problems, like weight gain, insulin resistance, the metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

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