Sugar or Aspartame, which one’s better?
Whether or not it’s better to consume beverages sweetened with sugar or artificial sweetener is a very debated issue. Lots of studies link sugar consumption in beverages with weight gain and skewed metabolic systems. However, artificial sweeteners like aspartame don’t have a clean slate either.
I wrote previously how MSG helps contribute to metabolic disorders by acting as an “excitatory” molecule, and aspartame behaves in a similar way, causing similar problems. If synapes in your body are chronically over-stimulated they become insensitive to traditional metabolic inputs and stop working properly. Not a good thing.
One hole in the debate is the lack of long term clinical trials comparing the effects of both in isolation. A recent study just attempted to answer that question.
Fat Accumulation in Beverages Sweetened With Sugar and Aspartame
A paper recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a 6 month clinical trial that studied how the body’s metabolic systems changed when regularly consuming sucrose vs. other beverages. People regularly took cola, milk, water, or diet cola in controlled dietary settings for 6 months, and their metabolic risk factors were compared to one another.
What were the results? (emphasis added by me):
Daily intake of SSSDs (cola) for 6 mo increases ectopic fat accumulation and lipids compared with milk, diet cola, and water. Thus, daily intake of SSSDs is likely to enhance the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Score one for aspartame.
Of course, artificially sweet drinks should ideally be avoided altogether. Lots of evidence suggests sweetened beverages might be one of the biggest culprits in metabolic disorders because they add calories while providing no additional nutritional value. Nada. Even nutritionally empty solid carbohydrates contribute some feeling of satiety, but sweetened beverages don’t seem to register a dint on your body’s sense of hunger.