More people are becoming aware of the detrimental effects of excess sugar in the diet. Artificial sweeteners like sucralose are often used as a replacement. Is sucralose keto-friendly? What are the pros and cons? What does the research show about sucralose? While authorities maintain that sucralose is safe to eat, some studies have linked it to various health issues.
What is Sucralose?
Splenda is the most commonly used sucralose-based product. Sucralose is an artificial sweetener with zero calories. Making sucralose from sugar requires a multistep chemical process where three hydrogen-oxygen groups are replaced with chlorine atoms. In 1976, a British scientist allegedly misheard instructions when testing a substance. He tasted it and realized it was especially sweet.
Big companies went on to develop Splenda products, and it soon became one of the most popular sweeteners in the UK.
Splenda is often used as a sugar alternative in cooking and baking, and in food products worldwide. Splenda contributes a negligible amount of carbs to your diet, and you only consume minor amounts of Splenda at one time .
Compared to sugar, sucralose is 400-700 times sweeter and doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste associated with many other popular sweeteners [2,3]. Even though sucralose provides sweetness, enzymes in your digestive tract can’t break down its structure, so most of the sucralose you eat (around 85%) isn’t absorbed. The small amount you do absorb isn’t broken down for energy and is quickly excreted in the urine [4,5].
Sucralose doesn’t have any calories, but Splenda also contains carbohydrates: maltodextrin and dextrose (glucose), bringing the calorie count up to 3.36 calories per gram .
How Does Sucralose Affect Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels?
Most researchers say sucralose has little to no effect on insulin levels and blood sugar, but this could depend on several variables. For example, whether or not you’re used to consuming artificial sweeteners or have diabetes.
One small study reported that sucralose elevated insulin levels by 20% and blood sugar levels by 14% in those with severe obesity who didn’t regularly consume these sweeteners . Other studies in people with an average weight with no significant medical conditions found no effects on insulin and blood sugar levels. These studies included regular consumers of sucralose [8,9,10].
Conclusions About Sucralose on Keto
Sucralose is controversial, with some claiming it’s entirely harmless and some studies suggesting negative effects on the metabolism. The long-term health effects are unclear, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other health authorities have regarded sucralose as safe for consumption.
According to the FDA, the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of sucralose is 5milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg) per day. This amount is also around 100 times less than the quantity of sucralose research studies has found to be safe.
In conclusion, sucralose might be a suitable keto sweetener for some, but not for others. See how you react personally to sucralose or Splenda. If you don’t consume sucralose regularly, it’s possible you might experience some mild fluctuations in your insulin and blood sugar levels. If you’re used to eating it, it probably won’t have an effect.
For those dealing with autoimmune disease, digestive issues, and other medical problems, most experts recommend choosing more natural options to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you have diabetes or blood sugar concerns, it’s best to talk to your doctor or healthcare professional to determine if sucralose is a good dietary choice for you.
Recent studies have also challenged the notion that Splenda is considered heat-resistant and safe for cooking and baking. At high temperatures, some studies show Splenda starts to break down and interact with certain other ingredients. In some cases, it can produce harmful substances like chloropropanols, which might increase cancer risk. More research is needed, but it might be best to use other sweeteners when you’re baking at temperatures above 350°F (175°C) [11,12,13,14].
Some animal research also shows sucralose might have a negative effect on the friendly bacteria in the gut and reduce the number of anaerobic bacteria. Harmful bacteria seemed less affected by sucralose, whereas beneficial bacteria like bifidobacteria were significantly reduced. Following the experiment, the gut bacteria still hadn’t returned to normal levels. Human research is necessary to assess the potential impact of sucralose on the human gut microbiome .
With more research needed and unanswered questions, it’s up to you whether you’d like to consume sucralose or not. For most, it’s a keto-friendly choice, but it might not be the healthiest choice. You can also choose other alternatives like Stevia.
Do You Consume Sucralose on Keto?
How often do you consume sucralose in your diet? What are your thoughts on sucralose as a keto sweetener?
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2. Wiet, S. G., & Beyts, P. K. (1992). Sensory characteristics of sucralose and other high intensity sweeteners. Journal of Food Science, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1992.tb14345.x
3. Horne, J., Lawless, H. T., Speirs, W., & Sposato, D. (2002). Bitter taste of saccharin and acesulfame-K. Chemical Senses, 27(1), 31-38. DOI: 10.1093/chemse/27.1.31
4. Roberts, A., Renwick, A. G., Sims, J., & Snodin, J. (2000). Sucralose metabolism and pharmacokinetics in man. Food and Chemical Toxicology, DOI: 10.1016/s0278-6915(00)00026-0
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8. Ma, J., Bellon, M., Wishart, J. M., Young, R., Blackshaw, L A., Jones, K. L., Horowitz, M., & Rayner, C. K. (2009). Effect of the artificial sweetener, sucralose, on gastric emptying and incretin hormone release in healthy subjects. American Journal of Physiology: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, of , 296(4), G735-G739. DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.90708.2008
9. Ma, J., Chang, J., Checklin, H. L., Young, R. L., Jones, K. L., Horowitz, M., & Rayner, C. K. (2010). Effect of the artificial sweetener, sucralose, on small intestinal glucose absorption in healthy human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition, 104(6), 803-806. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114510001327
10. Ford, H. E., Peters, V., Martin, N. M., Sleeth, M. L., Ghatei, M. A., Frost, G. S., & Bloom, R. S. (2011). Effects of oral ingestion of sucralose on gut hormone response and appetite in healthy normal-weight subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 65(4), 508-513. DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.291
11. Schiffman, S. S., & Rother, K. I. (2013). Sucralose: A synthetic organochlorine sweetener: Overview of biological issues. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 16(7), 399-451. DOI: 10.1080/10937404.2013.842523
12. Varoujan, A. R., & Yaylayan, A. (2010). Thermal degradation of sucralose and its potential in generating chloropropanols in the presence of glycerol. Food Chemistry, 118(1), 56-61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.04.133
13. Bannach, G., Almeida, R. R., Lacerda, L. G., Schnitzler, E., & Ionashiro, M. (2009). Thermal stability and thermal decomposition of sucralose. Ecletica Quimica, 34(4), https://doi.org/10.1590/S0100-46702009000400002
14. De Oliveira, D. N., De Menezes, M., & Catharino, R. R. (2015). Thermal degradation of sucralose: A combination of analytical methods to determine stability and chlorinated byproducts. Scientific Reports, DOI: 10.1038/srep09598
15. Abou-Donia, M. B., El-Masry, E. M., Abdel-Rahman, A. A., McLendon, R. E>, & Schiffman, S. S. (2008). Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 71(21), 1415-1429. DOI: 10.1080/15287390802328630
Steph Green is a writer, researcher, and singer/songwriter with a passion for all things wellness. In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.