Hand holding a packet of artificial sweetener over a glass containing a beverage with a red and white straw.

Is Aspartame Right for You?

You may see it marketed as Nutrasweet® or Equal® but aspartame is everywhere. In diet soft drinks, yogurt, even ice cream. There have been mixed messages about whether or not aspartame is a good sugar substitute. A recent study found in the April 2018 issue of the Journal of Nutrition “evaluated the effect of daily aspartame consumption by healthy adults on glycemic responses, appetite, body weight and body composition.”1

What does research say about aspartame?

When you were first diagnosed your physician may have spoken to you about the many low calorie sweetener options that are available on the market. Many of these are marketed not only as low calorie to help with weight maintenance or loss, but also as good alternatives to sugar for people with diabetes. There are many downsides to some of these low calorie sweeteners such as a bad after taste, reports that people experienced increased hunger, and also safety concerns. But “the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Canadian Diabetes Association have stated that (low calorie sweeteners) either moderate or have no effect on postprandial glycemia.”1

The study was performed for 12 weeks with 100 healthy individuals aged 18-60. Blood sugar levels, weight and hunger were assessed at the beginning of the study and at the end of the 12 weeks. People in a group that consumed moderate to high amounts of aspartame did not show any increase in blood glucose levels, hunger, percent body fat or body weight. Although this study did not measure the effects on diabetes, the American Diabetes Association states “Most scientists (as well as the American Diabetes Association) maintain that the powder is a safe alternative to sugar for people with diabetes. One caveat: Aspartame contains phenylalanine, which can be harmful to people with the rare disease phenylketonuria and should be avoided by them.”2

Aspartame has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in foods such as chewing gum and baked goods.  It does not however, make a good sugar substitute when baking as heat changes its composition and leads to decreased sweetness. Baking with any type of low calorie sweetener will give a different product than when using actual sugar. That’s ok! Try a few different substitutes in your favorite recipe to decide which one you like best! If aspartame does not work for you, there are many other low calories sweeteners including sucralose and saccharin.

Be sure to speak with your physician if you have any questions or concerns about which low calorie sweeteners are best for you and the control of your diabetes.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Type2Diabetes.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. Cochran, N. Research shows Aspartame Does Not Affect Glycemia, Appetite or Weight. Calorie Control Council. https://caloriecontrol.org/research-shows-aspartame-does-not-affect-glycemia-appetite-or-weight/?utm_source=Smartbriefs&utm_medium=Email. Accessed June 14, 2018
  2. Diabetes Forecast. Size up Your Sweetener Options. http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2009/jul/size-up-your-sweetener-options.html. Accessed June 14, 2018

Comments

View Comments (8)
  • reddirtgirl
    4 months ago

    I also have fibromyalgia and if I use any kind of fake sugar I really suffer from it. So I use real sugar once in a great while. This happen to any one else?

  • Katie Gutwald, RD moderator author
    4 months ago

    Hey reddirtgirl,
    Thanks for sharing! Glad you have found something that works for you. Katie Gutwald RD Community Moderator

  • Riddler
    4 months ago

    I noticed that now on Diet Coke products they mention Splenda now.That’s good.

  • Katie Gutwald, RD moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thanks for sharing, Riddler! Hope you are doing well. Katie Gutwald RD Community Moderator

  • Katie Gutwald, RD moderator author
    6 months ago

    Sometimes that is all you can do!;)

  • Riddler
    6 months ago

    I drink the diet sodas. Funny. If I accidentally take a sip of a regular soda I find that I can’t stand the taste of it. Took awhile to get used to the taste at first but now I don’t want the regular at all.

    I also prefer Splenda. I messed up and bought one of the Kroger brand sweeteners due to being on sale and thinking would taste like Splenda. Was wrong. Think I’ll give it away and buy Splenda. Might also get some for cooking. How good are the ‘half and half’s products of Splenda and sugar when cooking etc?

    I’ve had so many people tell me how bad stuff like Splenda etc is bad for you but never can justify their reasoning.

  • Katie Gutwald, RD moderator author
    6 months ago

    Hey Riddler,
    You can use the half and half mix but would have to take into account the carbohydrates from the actual sugar. I’m not sure how you regulate your blood sugar or how often you eat simple sugars but some people try to avoid real sugar due to the high blood glucose levels they cause. So its up to you and your comfort level! I also recommend speaking with your doctor about what they would like for your diet choices! Hope you have a great weekend. Thanks for being part of our community! Sincerely, Katie Gutwald RD Community Moderator

  • Riddler
    6 months ago

    thanks. Reason I asked is that there’s a lot of recipes that will say to use the Splenda mixture. So was wondering about the half and half bit. I usually just stick with the Splenda bit when using any kind of sweetner.

    For some reason I like it the most over the rest. I’ve had people tell me that I shouldn’t use things like that or drink diet drinks because they’re ‘bad’ for me etc Some go on to tell me about headaches and all other kinds of ailments they come up with. I just smile, nod my head and ignore. 😉

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