caloriesIf you’re focused on weight loss, counting calories may be something that you’re familiar with. In an effort to limit calories, most people cut out fast food and junk food. Many people turn to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame instead of sugar as another way to reduce calories. Which is better – sugar or aspartame?

The Difference Between Sugar and Aspartame

Aspartame is one of the most common artificial sweeteners available. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is used in many beverages and foods. A major selling feature of aspartame is that it contains far few calories (2 calories per teaspoon) than sugar and can therefore help with weight loss. On the other hand, sugar is a carbohydrate and one teaspoon contains 16 calories. There are naturally occurring sugars found in fruits and vegetables and added sugars which are found in many processed foods. With obesity levels on the rise, much attention has been focused on consumption of calories through sugar. This has led many people to turn to sugar alternatives, such as aspartame, to reduce calories in an attempt to aid with weight loss.

Why Aspartame and Sugar Could Both Be Bad

Over the years, much attention has been focused on a possible link between aspartame and cancer. However, research that has been conducted has not supported this. Claims have also been made that aspartame consumption leads to headaches, dizziness, digestive problems, mood changes as well as serious health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, birth defects, diabetes, attention deficit disorder, Parkinson’s disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis as well as seizures. However, the research that is currently available does not support these claims either. Further research as to the safety of aspartame use continues to be conducted. However, currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state that aspartame is safe to use. While research has not found that aspartame causes any health problems in the general population, people with phenylketonuria (PKU) should limit their consumption of products containing aspartame. PKU is a rare genetic disorder where a person cannot break down phenylalanine. High levels of phenylalanine in the blood can prevent important chemicals from getting to the brain resulting in brain damage. Because phenylalanine is found in aspartame it is vital that people who suffer from PKU limit their consumption.

Aspartame in Fast Food

Aspartame is found in diet soda that is often sold in fast food restaurants. Fast food restaurants as well as the manufacturers market these diet sodas as a healthier option to regular sodas. Many people will order a diet soda to reduce the calories that they consume but will add a whole meal to this diet soda. This doesn’t help with weight loss at all. Staying away from fast food chains and junk food is the first thing you should do if weight loss is your goal.

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Just like most things in life, moderation is the key whether you choose aspartame or sugar as your food sweetener. If weight loss is your goal, reducing calories by eating a diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats and regularly exercising should be incorporated into your regular routine.

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