Sweeteners and Energy Intake
San Antonio, TX. From an energy intake point of view, it would be logical to think that substitution of sugar with lower calorie sweeteners should reduce the total energy consumption. However, this subject is controversial given that scientific research exists with contradictory results. According to the article A current and global review of sweeteners; regulatory aspects,, it should be considered that in processed products, not only the sweetness provided by sugar needs replacing but also the physical or other technological properties of sugar.
The result is that a product reformulated with less sugar is often higher in calories than the ‘full sugar’ version because the sugar has been replaced with other higher calorie nutrients, such as fat.
Some research has shown that the use of sweeteners is connected with weight gain. It would appear that the dissociation between the sensation of sweetness and the reduced calorie content produced by sweeteners could cause an increase in appetite, giving rise to a higher energy consumption and weight gain. It has been hypothesized that the concomitant intake of artificialsweeteners together with food or drinks containing sugar could enable faster absorption of sugar, affecting appetite and therefore weight.
However, The Global Stevia Institute (GSI) says that you can low your energy and calorie intake and manage your weight with stevia extract, a zero calorie sweetener of natural origin, extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana. Currently the sweet compounds of the stevia plant, scientifically called steviol glycosides, can be extracted from the leaf and can be used in products to achieve a very similar taste of sucrose, but with no calorie intake. Stevia extract is up to 350 times sweeter than sugar, but zero calorie.
Dr. Priscilla Samuel, from the GSI, states that stevia extract, as being zero calorie, is currently being used as a tool to reduce energy and sugar intake, which can contribute to reduce overweight. The reason for stevia extract being zero calorie is because steviol glycosides are poorly absorbed in the body and pass through the upper gastrointestinal tract fully intact. After being metabolized, it is excreted in the urine. Several research studies on stevia extract have shown there is no accumulation of stevia extract in the body during metabolism.
Sylvia Klinger, Registered Dietitian of the Hispanic Food Communications Inc. says that you can save calories by having foods prepared with stevia extract. For those who like to bake with sugar because of the texture it provides, Klinger recommends to use half sugar and half steviaextract in recipes. “Sugar performs some other functions aside from sweetening things in recipes, so you can use half sugar and half stevia extract. But at the same time you must be aware that you can also prepare recipes with only stevia extract as well.
- García Almeida, J.M. Gracia M.ª Casado Fdez. and J. García Alemán: A current and global review of sweeteners; regulatory aspects. Nutrición Hospitalaria, 2013.
SVETIA® Calorie – Free Sweetener is made with cane sugar and stevia extract. One packet of SVETIA® contains only one gram of carbohydrates. People with diabetes are advised to check with their registered dietitian or physician.