We’re always hearing about the downsides of consuming too much sugar, and with good reason: a diet high in sugar can spike glucose levels and increase the risk of health conditions like Type 2 Diabetes. One easy way (or not so easy way, depending on your tastes) to reduce sugar is by limiting it in our morning coffee.
But even if you’re choosing a plain cup of coffee or a nonfat latte over sugary coffee beverages served under mountains of whipped cream, it’s all too easy to make coffee mistakes that could affect your health and weight. This is the one ingredient you should avoid in your coffee because it slows your metabolism.
There are quite a few artificial sweeteners on the market that are approved by the FDA, including saccharin (Sweet ’N Low), aspartame (Equal), and Sucralose (an example of which is Splenda, which is a whopping 600 times sweeter than sugar). These sweeteners are often used in place of sugar in an effort to cut down on sugar’s effect on the body. And they’re as common an ingredient in coffee as milk and, well, sugar.
Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners do not simply give us a taste of extreme sweetness before dissolving and disappearing from our lives. After studies were performed on these sweeteners, they were found to cause changes and disruptions in the body.
“Artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, causing metabolic changes that can be a precursor to diabetes,” reports The New York Times.
Even if you aren’t adding little packets of artificial sweetener to your coffee, sugar-free additives like flavored syrups usually contain artificial sweeteners. And when these sweeteners were tested on mice, scientists found they actually changed the body’s microbiome, which is a bacteria that lives in our gut and digestive system.
“The different mix of microbes, the researchers contend, changes the metabolism of glucose, causing levels to rise higher after eating and to decline more slowly than they otherwise would,” reports The New York Times.
In other words: those artificial sweeteners that you assume are keeping you from adding calories to your coffee could be messing with your body by spiking blood sugar levels and making it more difficult to bring them down.
It should be noted that most researchers agree more studies are needed to draw better conclusions about artificial sweeteners, but what we know so far isn’t encouraging.
If you’re adding artificial sweeteners to your coffee in the hopes that they will help with weight loss, we’re afraid studies are showing the opposite can happen.
In a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers found that artificial sweeteners could put people at risk for more weight gain, obesity, and even heart disease.
“Unfortunately, the quality of evidence that would support using sweeteners is not really strong,” says Susan Swithers, a professor in the department of psychological studies at Purdue University told Time. “I think we are at a place where we can say that they don’t help.”
Once you get used to the extremely sweet taste of artificial sweeteners, it can be difficult to cut sweetness from your coffee cold turkey. But you’re better off using just a sprinkle of natural sugar in your cup of coffee (or none at all if you want the health benefits of antioxidant-rich coffee without added sugar). Over time you’ll get used to it and your body will thank you.