Should I Avoid Sucrolose?

When first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (or prediabetes), individuals are often advised to reduce their sugar intake. This includes reducing consumption of sweetened beverages, candy, and desserts.

Since giving up sugar cold turkey can be quite the feat, many people choose to replace high sugar foods and beverages with diet foods and beverages. Such foods commonly contain non-nutritive sweeteners, a no-calorie or low calorie alternative to nutritive sweeteners (i.e. sugar, brown sugar, honey, and corn syrup).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for approving the use of non-nutritive sweeteners. At the present time the FDA has approved the use of the following non-nutritive sweeteners: acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose and stevia. Despite the FDA’s assessment of the aforementioned non-nutritive sweeteners as safe for human consumption, many people remain skeptical.

Impact of sucrolose

This small study (see below) is just one example of why people continue to have doubts about using non-nutritive sweeteners:

A recent study titled, Non-nutritive sweetener effects may contribute to insulin resistance in consumers with obesity, evaluated the impact of sucralose in obese and non-obese individuals.

This study included 8 normal weight adults and 7 obese adults.  Participants of the study were randomized to consume either water or sucralose (the amount of sucralose consumed was equivalent to the amount in a single serving of diet pop) prior to starting an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).

Results of the study showed that there was a greater insulin response for the obese group in comparison to the normal weight group. Researcher Marta Pepino reported, “acute sucralose consumption increases insulin response to a glucose load in people with obesity, which in the long term may have adverse effects on glucose metabolism.”

Previous studies on non-nutritive sweeteners have reported, while such sugar substitutes are carbohydrate free, they may still elicit an insulin response. High insulin levels can increase hunger, food intake and fat storage, all of which are problematic for someone with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Sucralose is sold under the brand name Splenda and is approximately 600 times sweeter than table sugar. Foods that contain sucralose are typically marketed as, “diet”, “low-calorie”, or “light”.

Examples include:

  • Low-fat flavored milk, light yogurt, low-fat coffee creamer
  • Light pudding, light ice cream, sugar-free popsicles
  • Light canned fruit, reduced calorie baked goods, sugar-free candy
  • Light/diet juice, diet iced-tea, diet soda
  • Light maple syrup, low-calorie jams/jellies

Next steps

You might be asking, “What should I do with this information?”

Great question! I have a few suggestions:

  • Always keep moderation in mind. If you choose to consume a food with sucralose (or any of the non-nutritive sweeteners) make sure to keep it in balance with the other foods in your diet.
  • Remember, just because a food/beverage is label as “diet”, “light” or “reduced” does not always make it the healthier option.
  • Limit intake of processed diet foods. This will help limit intake of non-nutritive sweeteners.
  • On occasion allow yourself the “real thing”. If you are fearful of how a cookie (scoop of ice cream, slice of pie, etc.) may impact your blood sugar, plan for some exercise after your special treat to help keep your numbers in check.

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