Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad For Me?


Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad For Me?

We know that excessive sugar intake is terrible for your health but what about sweeteners? You don’t have to look very hard to find internet articles about artificial sugar causing cancer and wreaking all kinds of bodily havoc. The question is, are these stories true or just clickbait? Read below to find out what artificial sweeteners, specifically sucralose, are and whether they can form a part of a healthy diet.

What Is Artificial Sugar?

Artificial sugar is an umbrella term because there are so many different kinds. Saccharin, aspartame, erythritol and sucralose to name a few. What they all have in common is that they make a product taste sweet without adding many extra calories. If you’ve ever consumed a product with “diet” or “sugar free” on the label, it is likely there was a sweetener on the ingredient list. Some people swear by sweeteners while others avoid them like the plague arguing they are “not natural” or “dangerous”. Unfortunately there are many misconceptions out there when it comes to artificial sugar. These myths are largely the result of misinterpreted rodent studies and fear of the unknown. Despite their negative reputation, most sweeteners are totally safe for human consumption and do not cause weight gain, leaky gut or cancer.

cubes of sugar on a blue table with teaspoon stock image


Sucralose is a calorie free sweetener that was discovered in 1976. It is around 600 times sweeter than sugar meaning you don’t need much of it to enhance a product's taste. It doesn’t get absorbed by the body making it essentially calorie free. NZProtein products primarily use sucralose to sweeten them up. We picked this one because it does the trick without leaving any putrid aftertaste. The majority of studies show that sucralose has no effect on a person’s blood sugar. It is therefore ideal for diabetics or those monitoring their glucose levels. Cooking with sucralose is not recommended because it has the potential to release some toxic compounds at high temperatures. Luckily, it works just fine in protein powder and anything cooked at a low temperature. Food regulation authorities like the FDA have ruled it safe for human consumption and most people consume sucralose with no ill-effects. As stated above, sucralose is calorie free unlike regular sugar which contains 387 calories per 100g. It is quite a potent sweetener too. Even a tiny amount can make a bitter product taste deliciously sweet.

brown scoops with white sugar crystals stock image

Good For Weight Loss?

There is a surprising amount of evidence that artificial sweeteners can be beneficial for weight loss. Imagine a person who drinks a full sugar can of Coke every day. This would set them back around 150 calories. Swapping their daily Coke to Coke Zero would allow them to still enjoy a sweet beverage without the extra calories. This change would add up in the long run and may be the key to staying on track throughout their weight loss journey. Some people argue that sugar is more ‘natural’ than sweetener but there isn’t really anything natural about drinking a can of coke. The amount of sweetener needed to make a food product taste good is significantly less than the amount of sugar that would need to be used. Remember that the dose makes the poison. A tiny amount of sucralose is better than a whopping amount of regular sugar.

woman pouring a soft drink into a glass stock image

Not Ideal For Everyone

Although sweeteners are safe for human consumption, some people tolerate them better than others. We all have different guts and our ability to tolerate sweeteners can be highly individual. Some sugar free products come with a warning that excessive consumption may have a laxative effect. This is because certain artificial sugars known as polyols pass straight through your small intestine and can cause diarrhoea. Although unpleasant, this side effect is fairly minor and won’t occur for everyone. One person can consume a sugar free beverage and be just fine. Another person might need to use the bathroom straight after drinking. If you get a funny tummy after sweetener consumption then it might be best to avoid. However, if you can smash back sugar free treats with no horrid side effects then feel free to continue doing so.

person clutching their stomach stock image


Contrary to what some people will have you believe, artificial sweeteners like sucralose are not inherently bad. Human brains are wired to enjoy sweet tasting things but excessive consumption of sugary snacks can lead to weight gain and health issues. Artificially sweetened products like protein powder can form a part of a healthy diet by giving you that sweet hit without the extra calories. If you enjoy the taste of sugar free products and don’t experience ill-effects then go hard. Although more research needs to be done, we know that artificial sugars aren’t harmful when consumed in moderation. As with anything, the dose makes the poison. There are so many things out there that can actually harm you but a little bit of sweetener isn’t one of them.


Written by Lauren Carruthers