Artificial Sweeteners and Overeating

It seems that our body weight set points are not carved in stone. Clinical studies revealed links between taste and the amount of food we eat.

What is overeating? It depends. For one person, overeating means that she eats in excess of her energy expenditure, which may be due to the sedentary needs. For another person, it's because of sluggish metabolism. For yet another, it can be a plain old cheating on his diet.

In this article, I'll talk about the weight-loss plateau and one of its aspects that is rarely discussed: taste and calories.

There are two issues in the weight-loss plateau problem that concerns low-carb dieters. First, what is this plateau ? is it anything real or all in our heads? Second, is low-carb stalled weight loss different from any other diet stalling?

A Look at the General Problem of Plateaus

A weight-loss plateau is when you were losing weight and then stopped losing, without changing your diet, exercise or other lifestyle factors. You eat the same diet and exercise as much as before, but your bathroom scales are frozen at some mysterious point, sometimes referred to as the body weight set point (Just think of your refrigerator: it's the point you set to maintain the temperature you want. Though different in details, basically the same parts make up the human body's "thermostat" or "fat-o-stat," for that matter.)

Body weight set point is nature's idea of what amount of fat you need. If we deviate from nature's, it forces us to eat more ? even when our Fat stores are huge. Luckily, a low-carb diet allows your body to recognize Your stored fat as legitimate fuel and uses it instead of storing it (as it Does on any other diet.) However, there is another danger that is often overlooked by low-carb dieters:

The Sweeter, the Heavier

It seems that our body weight set points are not carved in stone. Clinical studies revealed links between taste and the amount of food we eat.

Tastier foods make the set point of body weight shift up proportionally, that is: the tastier the food, the greater the set point. Researchers even showed that foods with negative taste qualities, (in the study, researchers added quinine) do the opposite: the more bitter the food, the lower the set point.

Artificial Sweeteners Are Not the Answer

Sweet taste -- even from artificial sweeteners -- causes an increase in calories coming from fat and protein. Why does this happening?

Sweet taste, even coming with artificial sweetener, raises glucose concentration in the blood before the food has a chance to be digested. Your body knows that eventually, it will have all the carbs you've swallowed and it doesn't wait until it that happens. Instead, it releases some glucose from the carbohydrate depots and hopes to get it all back. When the sweet food is real, the carbohydrates eventually get into the blood. And if they're not? Well, nature never counted on us inventing artificial sweeteners. Being fooled, your body reacts rather vindictively: it forces you to want more sweet food plus eat more next time, no matter what food you agree to have.

So, you'd be better off without artificial sweeteners. There are other tasty foods you can have on a low-carb diet.

Some Clinical Data on Fats:

* Preference for high fat foods appears to be a universal human trait.
* How much fat we eat appears to be determined simply by the amount of fat available.
* Fats are especially provocative in the obese, who tend to overeat fatty foods more than the lean.

Clinical Data on Other Tasty Foods:

* Good tasting foods increased so-called diet-induced thermogenesis (heat production after meals) and reduced food efficiency (how many calories are used and how many pass through the intestines).
* Good tasting foods increase energy expenditure. It seems like a paradox, but when you eat what you really enjoy, you body gets less of this particular food's calories.

Sources:

Zeitschrift fur Ernahrungswissenschaft, 29 Suppl 1:45-52, 1990
Annales d Endocrinologie, 49(2):121-4, 1988
Journal of Comparative & Physiological Psychology, 89(9):1003-9, 1975
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 52(4):300-7, 1998
International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders, 21(12):1100-3, 1997
Physiology & Behavior, 62(6):1345-54, 1997
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 65(5):1375-83, 1997
Annual Review of Nutrition, 17:237-53, 1997
Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 97(7 Suppl):S58-62, 1997
American Journal of Physiology, 270(6 Pt 2):R1197-202, 1996
Ciba Foundation Symposium, 201:138-54, 1996

 
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