Q. Do Artificial Sweeteners Make You Hungrier?

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., July/August 2010

Do Artificial Sweeteners Make You Hungrier?

A. I’d hope not, since lots of people use artificial sweeteners to control calories. But the research on the topic isn’t so straightforward—in fact, the effect of these sweeteners on your appetite may depend on the form in which you’re consuming them.

A 2009 review concluded that artificial sweeteners in items with few if any calories, such as diet soda, may heighten appetite.

Yet the same review (published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) also reported that artificial sweeteners eaten in combination with or in foods containing calories don’t increase appetite. Similarly, a new study in the journal Appetite showed that eating an artificially sweetened appetizer—versus one that’s sugar-sweetened—before a meal didn’t stoke participants’ appetites.

Since the 2009 review, two studies have come out on the effect on appetite of noncaloric, artificially sweetened beverages. The findings are conflicting—one study found that they increased levels of a feel-full hormone, while the other study showed no change.

There’s a lot of uncertainty, but if you want something sweet, choosing items that are artificially sweetened can help you save calories. However, for overall health, I agree with Barry Popkin, Ph.D., distinguished professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina that “it’s best to limit your consumption of added sweeteners”—artificial or not.


I started using one sugar packet (15 calories) in my coffee instead of Splenda and my body's response was immediate. Rather than CONSTANTLY looking for something to eat, I was satisfied with breakfast and the constant urge to eat was gone with absolutely no effort. While I might be adding 60 calories to my daily caloric intake with 4 cups of decaf coffee in a day, I guarantee you I'm taking in a LOT fewer calories than before. I tried going back to the Splenda and again, I was constantly (unconciously) searching for food. Back to the sugar (unconciously) not totally food obsessed. I'm convinced.


01/18/2016 - 4:27pm

everyone cant eat any artificial sweeteners .. mu body cant break it down


06/21/2012 - 11:03am

Most of these studies are conflicting because they are not scientifically sound. For example, a few years ago a study came out which stated that most people who consume artificially sweetened beverages tend to weigh more than the general population. Duh! Why else would they be trying to save calories? They knew they were fat in the first place, so they drank diet rather than regular soda.

It makes as much sense as the educational study which concluded that students who were held back one or more grades in elementary school had higher dropout rates in high school. Duh again! These students struggled from the beginning. They probably had undiagnosed learning or emotional problems and did not receive appropriate help. They dropped out due to their frustration with school and the entire learning process, which they could not master.


10/21/2010 - 5:29pm

I recently quit using artificial sweeteners, and am amazed at the almost immediate improvement in my health! I feel better, am less hungry - and have lost 10 pounds! I made several other lifestyle changes around the same time, but it seems to me that this was the one that really threw the switch on the weight loss.


08/29/2010 - 8:45pm

Honey and maple syrup break down to glucose same as other sugars, they have trace amounts of nutrients but for a doctor to tell a diabetic patient to use them over sweeteners because they both affect your blood glucose equally is not evidence based. Doctors do not receive very much nutrition training and sometimes will develop their own ideas to tell patients, it is better to go to a diabetes clinic and be seen by a diabetes educator. Foods with artificial sweetener often don't contain much nutrition so that is a reason to eat less of them. Aspartame is one of the most highly tested food addidives and there is no body of evidence to prove harm. Splenda is one of the more popular choices, read about the differences here


08/27/2010 - 9:06am

I agree with the first comment. To add to it: a doctor told me: when you eat artificial sugars, your body thinks it is getting sugar so it releases insulin. There is no sugar for that insulin to interact with so your blood sugar drops. When that happens you get sluggish and hungry and have cravings so you eat to feel better and have energy. Eat natural sugars. I do it. I don't even use white sugar anymore. I use turbinado sugar.


08/27/2010 - 8:25am

I do not drink soda. I am not diabetic.

I have used different sweeteners ( splenda, sugar, honey, molasses, rice syrup, maple syrup, agave syrup, Stevia). I have not noticed any difference, other than getting a sugar low after getting a sugar load from molasses. So molasses cookies are not on my food list!

All sweeteners bring something different to food. They are usually never used alone. I often use half sugar and half splenda or stevia in a high caloric dessert. I do not eat a larger serving, just enjoy being able to have dessert!


08/26/2010 - 4:25pm

My doctor told my diabetic daughter (ages 28) that the equal and nutrasweet stuff will still raise your blood sugar levels just like any sweetner would. Thus releasing insulin or actually causing in a diabetic the need for more insulin. He also told my daughter that he would rather see her using honey, raw or course, maply syrup (real not corn syrup or HFCS) and raw sugar instead of the artificial sweetners. He believes live others do that they are really bad as our bodies don't recognize them as food and also the dangers of the aspartame turning into alcohol is just like drinking alcoholic beverages! My stepsister the doctor said her teachers in med school told them that they believe that these sweetners will cause more diseases than a lot of other things. No junk for me.


07/09/2010 - 11:14am

Who funded and performed these 2 studies that show no change or increased levels of the feel full hormone?


07/08/2010 - 7:31pm

We've also been told that artifical sweetners have been know to cause some cancers. I try to utilize the least amount of sweetner possible wheather it's artifical or natural. Thanks and I enjoy reading your segments


07/08/2010 - 6:53pm

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