Sweeteners can cause diabetics to gain weight

Okay, so I am dying for some clarification on the rumor that sweeteners can actually cause a diabetic to gain weight. I’m a type 1 diabetic who is very active and eats healthy but consumes artificial sweetener (Splenda) on a regular basis. Someone told me that sweeteners can cause a diabetic to go into a starvation mode, which slows down the metabolism and makes the body conserve its food instead of naturally disposing of it–making the body retain weight. Is this true? I know that sweeteners can make the body crave more food because the body isn’t satisfied and by consuming more food, you therefore gain weight.

Does anyone know the answer to this?

I’m trying to curb my use of sweeteners but I love them too much.

Hi Ashley,
I have no actual scientific data for you. I too have been told that “sweeteners” are the devil’s tool. (those were the actual words) And I was told that I should pray for my sins and leave all sweets alone. Well, if I am to be condemned to hell for a few sweeteners each day then I guess I better carry some sun screen and a fan in my purse at all times. My son is a type 1 and has used sweeteners for years. He has an incredibly in shape body. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel very satisfied with only two pieces of sugar free candy. I don’t eat it every day, but it is good when i do eat it. I also have one cup of decaf coffee every few days with sweetener and one tablespoon of sugar free vanilla caramel flavoring in it and really feel like it is a dessert for me. Someone also tells me that I am killing.myself because I drink one or two diet caffeine free cokes a day My point is this. You will find the sugar police or the diabetic police or the sweetener police wherever you go. And all I can think of when they are talking is that they are not diabetic, nor do they know what they are talking about. I for one will use my sweeteners and i know my son will also. My husband is very proud of his weight and uses a lot of Splenda. He is not diabetic.

Hasn’t made me gain any weight, only good numbers have. :slight_smile:

ashley, i’ve also used sweeteners and was doing extra exercises and the weight was coming off. but when i stop exercises and the weight was coming back on but still do sweeteners and my blood sugars are low. it’s all about you how you take it and look at other stuff you are doing and you will be able to determine what’s best for you. sincerely, patti

In France there’s the same rumor! I’m a type 1 diabetic and I’m very happy about diet coke, Canderel or Splenda. I hate drinking my coffee without a little artificial sweetener. There’s no starvation mode. It’s not sugar so when I heard all that stories about sweeteners I’m sure that those people that made such stories are not diabetics and don’t know about diabetes. I don’t eat more because I used sweeteners and if you take a walk on my page and my photos you see if I gain weight. So If you like sweeteners …


I have never seen anything like this. What I have seen is rat studies that suggest that artificial sweeteners do not flip some switch that tells the body it has eaten enough, so people may eat more because they don’t get a satiety signal.

But the rest of it is nonsense. I lost plenty of weight eating a lot of Splenda. I’m insulin sensitive, probably MODY.

One thing that IS an issue for people with diabetes relating to diet stuff is this: The phosphoric acid in diet sodas over time is damaging to your kidneys. This is true for everyone, not just diabetics, but since people with diabetes already have to worry about kidneys, stay away from all brown diet sodas as they all have the phosphoric acid.

Not true.

I read a study on this topic. Basically it said that folks were eating calorie-laden foods that were artificially sweetened, with the idea that the artificial sweeteners somehow made the food more ‘diet’, and gaining weight. Go figure! It’s the same thing as eating hordes of fat-free cookies or muffins and gaining weight. Too many calories = weight gain, no matter how you slice it. Well, I can think of one exception - before I was diagnosed T1, and was starving and dropping lbs like crazy, despite eating everything I could get my hands on.

Re metabolism - there are so many factors that can affect it. Eating a good breakfast every day will speed up your metabolism. So will moderate exercise every day. So will taking meds for a slow thyroid. And so on and on.

I didn’t know that about phosphoric acid. I do drink diet sodas, but don’t buy Coke or Pepsi or similar types, because I don’t care for the taste.

Good to know.

The study you posted links between consumption of diet sodas with obesity, but do not show any link between artifical sweeteners and obesity. Would a person have a higher chance of becoming obese because they used Spenda on their oatmeal, for instance.

Thanks so much for posting these links. I wasn’t aware that there were so many options. Someone recommended I use a little raw sugar instead of sweeteners. While there is still some sugar, a little sugar counteracted with appropriate foods, seems better than risking the dangers posed by the artificial sweeteners. Just out of curiosity, where can I find some of the sweeteners you mention? The Agave? and Stevia?


I think most artificial sweeteners should be avoided whether or not they cause you to gain weight. Just do a little internet research on aspartame and it seems that there’s plenty of reason to worry.

Personally, I use real sugar in my coffee, and only very rarely do I indulge in diet soda. I have the occasional cookie, doughnut, whatever. It doesn’t raise my blood sugar too much if I plan for it, and if I make a mistake, so be it. It’s all about finding the optimal balance between good blood sugars and a happy/healthy life. I found an attempt at perfection to be more detrimental than a few high blood sugars.

I heard about the weight gain rumors too. Some say aspartame causes men to develop man-boobs. Yuck. Also I’ve heard that aspartame is addictive. When I was diagnosed back in 1991, the doctor at Children’s Hospital told me diet soda was the only sweet thing I could drink freely. Since then I’ve gone over 15 years drinking at least one diet pepsi a day. Usually way way more.

Last year I kicked the daily ritual just to see if I could. I do have a sugar-free energy drink or soda once in a while, but i drink mostly mineral water now. A lot of mineral water. Turns out I was just addicted to bubbles. Go figure.

So I don’t know about weight gain, but the evidence is out there. I am not a big fan of artificial sweeteners…so little is known about their long term effects. I just hope I don’t wake up one day with hideous man-boobs from the thousands of gallons of diet pepsi I’ve ingested through the years. That would make for an interesting visit to the endo.

Hi Dino,
This was too great to pass up. That was a really funny joke. I am always looking for things to laugh about and that was really good, I am going to hell for drinking diet soda or something will rot and fall off and you are going to have man boobs. I will probabl;y get a couple of days out of this for laughing. Thank you for such a great sense of humor. I really enjoyed your post.

Regarding the rumor that sweeteners can cause people to gain weight: The following is from http://beewellkidz.com/newsletterarchive/august2008.html in relevant part and explains how sweeteners can cause people, diabetics included, to gain weight:

Artificial sweeteners make us fat!

How? You ask.
Here’s the process.

“Artificial sweeteners are 300-800 times sweeter than sugar. When we eat something sweet our taste buds recognize the sweet taste and send chemical messages to the body to prepare for incoming sugars. In response, cells in the pancreas release insulin. (Insulin movie)”

Further, "In addition to regulating our blood sugar, however, insulin also affects the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats in our bodies. Specifically, insulin encourages the body to breakdown carbohydrates rather than fats for energy. It also “stimulates the accumulation of fat cells in adipose tissue.” [1] Insulin has a “fat-storing” or “fat-preserving” effect on our bodies. So the more insulin we produce, the more fat our bodies want to store. And, adding insult to injury, our fat cells actually release a protein that helps our pancreas release more insulin. So the more fat we have, the more insulin our bodies are told to produce.

What does this mean?
When we use artificial sweeteners we trick our bodies into thinking we have just taken in a whole lot of sugar. It responds accordingly by releasing insulin. This insulin freely floats around the body until it finds something to do. If you have eaten a hamburger with your diet-coke, the insulin will encourage the use of the carbs for energy and help the fat find its way to your stomach and thighs. If there is no nutritional support, the insulin will act on the sugar that is currently in your blood, inducing lower energy levels and cravings for more carbs and sweets.

[1] Physiologic Effects of Insulin, R. Bowen, vivo.colostate.edu, hypertext."

I think this is total bunk! If you are using so much sweetener that you have to bolus for it, well then you could gain weight from it. But it’s not the sweetener doing the gaining - it’s your consumption. The body will gain weight on ANY type of consumption if it is more than a body needs, no? That ‘rumor’ is just one of those scare tactics to turn you off of the product - much like the ones that claim they cause cancer, or MS or MD or whatever. Please don’t believe everything you hear, and read for that matter. By the way, you can just use sugar instead (don’t forget to bolus for those carbs), and you’ll probly gain weight from it, too ; )

Insulin does not float freely around the body looking for something to do. If it is present in the bloodstream then it is shuttling glucose into cells. This is obvious when I inject too much insulin and my blood glucose drops until that insulin is used up.

Insulin can prevent the breakdown of fat, but it does much more than that. It is one of the most powerful anabolic (muscle building) hormones in the human body, to the point that it is often (ab)used by bodybuilders, who are known for having ridiculously low body fat percentages. So it isn’t a simple “more insulin = more fat” equation.

I don’t know if I buy the line about tasting something sweet being tied to the release of insulin. That would mean chewing sugar free gum should cause weight gain, but it actually does the opposite.

artificial sweeteners don’t cause weight gain. Calories do…

I consume serious amounts of diet coke, even though I am restricting my calories to between 1200 and 1400 a day.

Since I started that the result has been pretty steady weight loss.

I am probably drinking more diet coke now than I was before I started.


I’ve heard that the excessive use of aritficial sweeteners by ANYONE can lead to weight gain, but I honestly think it’s more of a lifestyle/food choice issue than the sweeteners themselves… and if you think about it, it sort of makes sense, since a vast majority of people who are consuming them, are likely trying to “counteract” some other aspect of their diet they might feel guilty about.

Goodness, excessive use of ANYTHING will likely cause some kind of problem.

When they’re talking about a release of insulin in response to a sweet taste, they’re talking about the phase 1 insulin response, which is part of what in a non-diabetic insures that the blood sugar never does rise out of the normal post-prandial range. Type 1s don’t HAVE a phase 1 response, and most Type 2s have lost it also, since it’s often the earliest part of insulin secretion to disappear. Therefore, while this MIGHT be of concern to non-diabetics, I don’t think it’s applicable to diabetics.

It’s simple enough to see if it’s applicable to you. Measure your blood sugar, and then drink a diet soda or two, and sit around for an hour (so exercise isn’t driving your blood sugar down), and then measure it again. If you were releasing insulin in response to the sweetener, you should see a significant drop in blood sugar.