What Are Sugar Substitutes? Artificial vs. Natural Sweeteners
When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, sugar is typically enemy number one. The amount of sugar you eat on a daily basis can have a drastic impact on everything from energy level to weight gain. Luckily, sugar substitutes are a sweet alternative that have less calories and carbs than regular table sugar.
Limiting your sugar intake can be hard enough as it is, but did you know that you should also be paying attention to the type of sugar you’re eating?
That’s right - not all sugars are created equal. There are two main types of sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners and natural sweeteners. Keep reading to learn more about each kind of sugar substitute and determine which is right for you!
Artificial vs. Natural Sweeteners: What’s the difference?
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugars made in a lab that have been chemically modified to give the appearance, taste and smell of a natural sugar. Popular artificial sweeteners include:
- Sucralose - Also known as Splenda®, sucralose is made from table sugar aka sucrose, but is 600x sweeter.
- Saccharin - Sweet’N Low® is a popular brand of saccharin, which is 200x - 700x more sweet than natural sugar.
- Aspartame - found in many cereals, snacks and packaged drinks, aspartame is 200x sweeter than sucrose. Equal® is a name brand aspartame.
Natural sweeteners are natural sugars extracted from organic sources such as plants, trees, fruits and vegetables. Popular artificial sweeteners include:
- Stevia - Extracted from the South American stevia rebaudiana plant, stevia sweeteners are 200x more sweet than regular sugar.
- Monk Fruit* - Increasingly popular with low-carb or keto-friendly diets, monk fruit extract contains zero calories and is about 200x sweeter than sugar.
- Erythritol - This natural sweetener is found in some plants and fruits, and is typically only used for cooking or baking purposes.
* Read more about why we use Monk Fruit to naturally sweeten BuzzFit protein coffee here.
What are the Pros and Cons of Sugar Substitutes?
Unfortunately, there's no “one size fits all” approach to sugar substitutes. Artificial and natural sweeteners come with both positive and negative effects. Figuring out which option is right for you depends on a number of factors, such as your overall health, dietary restrictions and weight goals.
- Contain zero or very little calories or carbs
- Can be used for cooking or baking
- Usually cheaper than natural sweeteners
- Contain virtually no nutritional value
- Can have a bitter or unpleasant taste on their own
- Have been associated with adverse health conditions
- Have been found to be more addictive than natural sweeteners
- Healthier than regular sugar
- Low-calorie and low-carb
- Typically contains some additional nutritional value
- Can be used for cooking and baking
- Contains small amount of calories
- Can be hard to buy or find in the store
- Can have a bitter or unpleasant taste on its own
If you’re thinking of substituting your sugar intake with an artificial or natural sweetener, be sure to consult with your doctor or dietitian to figure out which option is best for you.