flat lay of letter shaped cookies

The Real Low Down on Sugar Substitutes, The Good, The Bad, and The Not so Ugly!

Most people never think about sugar substitutes until their health forces them to take a deeper look. When you find that you have a severe disease like diabetes or obesity, you are suddenly running out and buying diet soda and Splenda sweetener. The questions remain: Is this the best way to go, is it safe, the benefits of sugar substitutes, and which ones are the safest?

ice cream with raspberry and blackberry on top

First, we must look at why you want to do a sugar-free diet.

A sugar-free diet could be for you if you are like many people with a severe sweet tooth and notice specific side effects like being overweight, bloating, and tired. If you have diabetes, then sugar-free is definitely for you. However, if you are just looking to lose some weight, you only need to cut back on your sugar intake and avoid empty calories, and you will start to take those pounds off. Remember, your body knows how to digest and consume sugar, and it knows what to do with it naturally. Your body does not know what to do with chemicals that you will find in most sugar substitutes. If you are looking at cutting back, try going the clean eating route and only put natural, unprocessed foods in your body.

If you are going for a sugar-free diet, you will need to pace yourself as there is no set sugar-free diet out there, and at Mighty Great Fitness, we do not believe in fad diets and get thin quick schemes. Nevertheless, you will find all you need to know to do a sugar-free diet and how to be successful.

food healthy cabbage leaf

Is a Sugar-Free Diet Safe?

Great question and the short answer is yes, it is safe, but you need to be careful about sugar-free products. The first thing you want to do is pace yourself and start slow. Remember, a sugar-free diet is a lifestyle change and will take time to adapt.

You will want to start by eliminating the most apparent sugar sources like cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. Don’t worry; you will be able to have these again, but when you are just starting, you will want to avoid them.

Next, you will want to start by removing sugars from your beverages. Try using a sugar substitute like Splenda or Pure Organic Honey in your coffee or tea. When shopping, look for sugar-free drinks, as you can find these in soda, Gatorades, and juices.

What can I have on a Sugar-Free Diet?

You can still have lots of food and drinks on a sugar-free diet, and once you have cut out the most apparent sugars, you can turn your attention to food labels. Yes, the labels on the products you buy will tell you so much more than how many calories are in them. Reading the back of a product label will help you identify sugars and what to avoid.

Sugar is sneaky and goes by many different names. If you want to do a sugar-free diet, you need to start reading labels to help you avoid all sugars, even the sneaky ones. The most common names of sugars include:

  • cane sugar
  • brown sugar
  • corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup
  • evaporated cane juice
  • invert sugar
  • beet sugar
  • barley malt
  • coconut sugar
  • maple syrup
  • agave syrup
  • rice syrup
  • apple or grape juice concentrate
  • honey
  • demerara
  • sucanat
  • panela or piloncillo
  • turbinado
  • muscovado

You should also be aware that any item on an ingredients list ending “ose” is also a type of sugar. Examples of these ingredients include:

  • sucrose
  • glucose
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • lactose

How Strict do I need to go?

Since there is no straightforward sugar-free diet, this will have to be a judgment call. First, decide why you are doing a no sugar diet. If you have diabetes, you need to be very strict and avoid simple carbohydrates like white flour, white pasta, and white rice. The body will break down these carbs into sugar, and it will cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. You can replace these with whole grain.

If you just want to cut back on sugars, you don’t have to be as strict and can use sugar substitutes to help you through it.

Are Sugar Substitutes Bad for you?

Artificial sugars are a huge controversy in the diet industry. They are much sweeter than sugar but contain few or no calories. They have chemicals in them which can make our body do weird things like have significant constipation or have you running to the bathroom with the collywobbles.

However, eating artificial sugars can trick the body into thinking that it is eating sugar, intensifying a person’s sugar cravings, making it more challenging to stick to a no-sugar diet.

A few artificial sugars to avoid on a strict no sugar diet is:

  • Splenda
  • stevia
  • Equal
  • NutraSweet
  • Sweet’N Low

Chemical names to avoid on a no sugar diet would be:

  • aspartame
  • sucralose
  • saccharin
  • acesulfame K or acesulfame potassium
  • neotame

Which Sugar Substitutes are the Safest?

Sugar substitutes are chemical or plant-based substances used to sweeten your food and drinks. Some are called artificial sweeteners, and others are called natural sweeteners. The difference is a natural sweetener is a substance that is pure and naturally made like honey. An artificial sweetener is a chemical and has to be approved by the FDA to ensure they are safe to consume.

It takes a smaller amount of these sugar substitutes to provide the same level of sweetness. Some sugar substitutes are low in calories, while others have little to no calories.

The following sugar substitutes are FDA approved as food additives in the United States:

  • Acesulfame K
  • Advantame
  • Aspartame
  • Neotame
  • Saccharin
  • Sucralose

Natural Sweeteners:

  • Monk Fruit Sweetener
  • Allulose
  • Date Sugar
  • Yacon Syrup
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Agave Nectar
  • Brown Rice Syrup

Going strictly sugar-free can be very rewarding, but it is one of the most challenging diets around and will take a lot of patience, determination, self-control, and forgiveness. Remember that you are human and will make mistakes and slip up. That is ok, just forgive yourself and start again because living a sugar-free lifestyle won’t be easy, but it is worth it, and your body will thank you.

Amanda Jordan

Author/Fitness Coach

“As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.” 

About Amanda Jordan

Amanda Jordan is a writer, specializing in fitness for women, especially those just beginning their fitness journey. She combines life as a freelance writer with teaching effective meal planning and targeted exercise routines. Amanda has firsthand knowledge of what life is like being overweight and unhealthy. Through many means, she has personally lost over 80 pounds and become a healthy woman.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: