One of the biggest questions I get asked as a dietitian is ‘how can I eat fewer calories without giving up the foods I love?’ It’s a great question and usually the answer involves discussing ways to reduce added sugars in the diet. And that’s where the conversation around the zero-calorie sweetener sucralose begins. Is sucralose safe? And is it a good alternative to reducing added sugars in the diet. Read on to find out what myself and registered dietitians around the country say.
Dislcosure: This post is sponsored by Tate & Lyle. As always, all opinions are my own
What is sucralose?
Sucralose is a zero-calorie sweetener that has become a popular non-nutritive alternative to sucrose (table sugar). It can be up to 600 times sweeter than sucrose, meaning much less sucralose is needed per serving. In addition, it is heat and acid stable, making it one of the ideal options for use in cooking and baking and can be found marketed under the brand name Splenda.
Is sucralose a good alternative to sugar?
Most of us consume too much added sugars, which can lead to serious health complications such as obesity and insulin resistance over time. Cutting down on added sugars in the diet is the ideal solution, but it isn’t always so easy to do.
Most dietitians find that getting clients to stick to weight loss and weight maintenance strategies over the long term is a challenge. They report people are more likely to adhere to healthier dietary recommendations when they are able to incorporate lower-calorie foods into their diets (87%), or if they can replace sugars with low- and no-calorie sweeteners (83%). And that’s because swapping added sugar with low- and no-calorie sweeteners allows you to enjoy the food you love without the negative impact of excess sugars.
Sucralose provides a good alternative to added sugars since studies have found it does not have a significant impact on blood glucose levels. In addition, since it a no-calorie sweetener, it is suitable for people who are seeking to lose weight or control their blood sugar levels. And since sucralose is 600 times sweeter than regular sugar, you can use less of it for the same desired level of sweetness.
Can I lose weight using sucralose?
According to a recent survey of U.S. registered dietitians (RDs) by Tate & Lyle, nearly all dietitians (99%) counsel patients about reducing their calorie intake, which may result in improving body weight. Among the strategies they discuss are reducing sugars (96%) and controlling portion sizes (87%). Although sucralose itself does not promote weight loss, using it as a sugar alternative reduces the calorie content of your food, which in turn may promote weight loss.
Do dietitians recommend sucralose?
According to the survey, a majority of registered dietitians (75%) agree that sucralose is an ingredient they recommend for clients seeking food or beverages sweetened with an alternative to sugars. In fact, sucralose is one of the top three low- and no-calorie sweeteners dietitians recommend to clients. They find the use of sucralose as a sugar alternative is useful in supporting long-term weight loss and maintenance while helping clients reduce their overall intake of added sugars and calories. And because sucralose is such a versatile ingredient with an appealing taste, it is a dietary recommendation that most clients enjoy following. Download the full report here.
Is Zero-Calorie Sucralose safe?
Consuming excess amounts of added sugars in the diet can have a damaging effect on long term health. Reducing added sugars by cutting down on ultra-processed foods, increase intake of fruits and vegetables, and swapping out added sugars with a no-calorie sweetener alternative such as sucralose can all play a role in preventing the negative health effects of excess sugar intake.
Sucralose does not provide a source of digestible calories or carbohydrates, so it has not been found to impact blood glucose levels or insulin levels. Unlike some low- and no-calorie sweeteners, sucralose is unlikely to cause digestive upset with consumption. Based on the scientific evidence available on sucralose in the diet, it considered a ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) ingredient by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
How can I reduce added sugar in my diet?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people over the age of 2 years consume less than 10% of total calories from added sugars, which is about 7-8 teaspoons of added sugars based on a 2000 calories per day diet. Yet the average adult in the US consumes between 17 to 19 teaspoons of added sweetener per day!
This excess sugar intake can lead to gains in visceral fat and insulin resistance while increasing the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Thankfully, by just incorporating a few simple swaps in your daily meal plan, you can eat what you love while reducing added sugars in the diet. To reduce added sugar, try incorporating the following strategies:
- Swap sucralose as a replacement for table sugar as well as in recipes and baked goods.
- Add sweetness without added sugar by incorporating whole fruit with meals and snacks such as adding berries on cereal, or topping you garden salad with sliced apples.
- Sugar-sweetened beverages provide one of the biggest sources of added sugars in the diet. Swap these out for no-sugar-added options such as brewed tea with lemon, sparkling water with a splash of 100% juice, or sucralose-sweetened beverage alternatives.