How Artificial Sweeteners Make You Eat More

Ever wonder why you eat diet foods but still gain weight? It turns out that artificial sweeteners can make you hungrier, so you eat more than you should. How’s that for a kick in the head?

New research published in the journal Cell Metabolism reveals why.

Artificial sweeteners play mind games

The brain’s reward center senses sweetness in your food and associates it with energy. When the energy doesn’t show up, your brain stimulates your appetite.

“After chronic exposure to a diet that contained the artificial sweetener sucralose, we saw that animals began eating a lot more,” lead researcher Associate Professor Greg Neely from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science said in a press release. “Through systematic investigation of this effect, we found that inside the brain’s reward centres, sweet sensation is integrated with energy content. When sweetness versus energy is out of balance for a period of time, the brain recalibrates and increases total calories consumed.”

This study was carried out using fruit flies. After being given a diet including artificial sweetener for more than five days, the flies took in 30 percent more calories than when their diets contained naturally sweetened food.

The researchers then performed the same study using mice. After seven days on a diet including sucralose, the mice were eating significantly more.

The researchers say artificial sweeteners also promote hyperactivity, insomnia, and poor sleep. In previous human studies, mild starvation and fasting had the same effects.

These studies were conducted on flies and mice, not humans. Others artificial sweetener studies have had contradictory results. More controlled studies would be needed to confirm how artificial sweeteners affect our appetites over time.

In the meantime, people all around the world are using artificial sweeteners in an effort to lose or maintain weight or eat what they believe is healthier.

Natural foods in sensible portions

Just like the great butter debate, over time we’ve come to realize that we would have been better off if we had stuck with the natural version. Not that we should be eating sugar and butter with reckless abandon. They’re better than their artificial counterparts, but too much of a good thing quickly turns bad.

Another problem is that many processed foods contain hidden ingredients. People who eat a lot of them eat a lot more sugar and artificial sweeteners than they realize.

It all comes down to what most of us already know. When you have the choice, eat the foods found in nature, and in sensible portions.

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Image credit: whyisjake via Flickr


John B
John B1 years ago

Interesting. Thanks Ann for sharing the info.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

NEVER use artificial sweeteners!

william Miller
william Miller2 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sierra B.
Sierra B2 years ago

many ingredients in coke are the ingredients you would find in common cleaning products. I hate coke, so this is no problem for me

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago


Jennifer F.
Jennifer F2 years ago

IF I have a soda I drink diet soda because I prefer the taste.....BUT I drink soda (1 can) only a few times per year. I prefer water.