Artificial Sweeteners on the Carnivore Diet

I have a confession. I am human, and I love sweet stuff.

I love the taste of ice cream and warm chocolate cake.

Do these foods do me any good and do I eat anything like this anymore? 

No and no. 

But I still will admit that I loved those foods when I wasn’t a carnivore, so I understand why we are so drawn to the appeal of artificial sweeteners. They seem to be the perfect solution for us, as there as “no calories” and they don't take us out of ketosis…

Artificial Sweeteners & I Have Bad Blood

I was actually an avid user of artificial sweeteners long ago. I consumed them in large amounts through the various pre-workouts I consumed and gum I chewed. I did not experience any drawbacks to sweeteners until I hit a point where the negatives were unbelievably negative. I am a very happy person most of the time and I always have a positive outlook on the world. I noticed this change severely when I was cutting weight for a physic competition and noticed that I was becoming very very emotional and depressed. I had never experienced depression in my whole life, so I didn't even know how to describe what I was experiencing. It was if there was an ever-present sense of doom. I just felt like no matter what I did, something bad was going to happen. It was absolutely debilitating and to make matters worse, I was in one of the toughest semesters of college in engineering.

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I soon through experimentation narrowed down what I was experiencing to be caused by a pre-workout and flavored ketone mix, both of which were loaded with artificial sweeteners. I didn’t want to believe this at first and have since fallen back into learning this lesson the hard way by chewing gum or even drinking a stevia flavored drink. 

The effects these substances have on me are undeniable and I believe it had to be in a very stressed period in my life for these symptoms to present themselves. It is also very possible that this stress led to me developing a hypersensitivity to this. I leaned on this conclusion until I spoke with my dad who explained that he also has a real sensitivity to these substances, but it took him years to figure out.

We may simply be very sensitive to sweeteners, but I would guess that if he and I share these symptoms and are both healthy, high-performing individuals, there are others who experience similar effects and aren't even aware of what may be causing it.

Weight loss and reducing the chances of heart disease are issues that many people are dealing with and struggling to solve. We live in an obese world that has been led to believe calories are the only thing that matter in your diet. As a result, diet drinks have become a very popular option for those looking to reduce their calories. Artificial sweeteners have exploded in popularity because products can now be sweet without actually containing any sugar. 

Artificial sweeteners are used in many products with the advertisement that they are sugar-free. Since they offer a taste of sweetness without any calories, artificial sweeteners appear to be the way to go for those who don’t want to consume a lot of calories and want to cut carbs out of their diet. These molecules appear to be great solutions for those looking to lose weight, because “calories are the only thing that matter.”

Nevertheless, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association are cautious about recommending the use of artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar to combat diseases like obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes because there are underlying problems that aren't easily apparent.

It is indeed true that artificial sweeteners can help reduce added sugars in your diet. They may have no nutritional value but they do affect the body in other ways. The fact that the number of calories consumed reduces implies that a person can maintain healthy body weight and lowers their risk of heart disease and diabetes. But artificial sweeteners are no silver bullet and are strongly discouraged on the Carnivore Diet. 

There is much more to the picture than calories in and calories out. 

Artificial sweeteners affect the body hormonally in a manner that can significantly affect some people in detrimental ways.

The carnivore diet consists of animal products and their by-products which includes foods like beef, pork, eggs, and dairy products among other foods. Fruits and vegetables are not included in the diet. As a result, people who follow the carnivore diet should not find themselves consuming artificial sweeteners. 

Not All Artificial Sweeteners Are Equal

There are many artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA. Including:

  • Saccharin
  • Acesulfame
  • Aspartame
  • Neotame
  • Sucralose

Two other approved sweeteners that are touted as being “natural” but have similar effects and taste to artificial sweeteners are:

  • Stevia
  • Monk Fruit Extract

The body responds to these sweeteners in complex ways that we do not fully understand. Due to the fact that artificial sweeteners result in a reduction of calories, people who use them may be tempted to replace the lost calories from other resources. As a result, they offset the benefits of weight loss or health improvement. The occurrence of such instances is more common than is often thought and is the reason why those drinking diet drinks seem to easily gain weight

Common Areas Artificial Sweeteners Negatively Affect:

  • Appetite
  • Bodyweight
  • Gut health
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Dental Health
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Seizures

Most people would consider many of these to be serious issues.

Artificial Sweeteners on the Carnivore Diet

The above symptoms are the main reasons we prefer to avoid these substances when following a Carnivore Diet. Many turning to the Carnivore Diet do so because they are facing problems in many of the areas mentioned above to be commonly affected by artificial sweeteners. 

For this reason, and others, staying away from artificial sweeteners is likely best for those on an all-meat diet and even those following normal diets.

Being a carnivore, it is unlikely you are drawn to diet soda, but you may be reading this article because you are concerned about your pre-workout mix, gum, or even mouthwash. There are symptoms aside from weight gain that are directly attributable to artificial sweeteners.

According to weight loss and obesity specialists, artificial sweeteners change the way people taste. Non-nutritive sweeteners have a higher potency than table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, meaning small amounts of artificial sweeteners go a long way. 

Sucralose is actually 700x sweeter than sugar. 

Over time, constant stimulation of these intense sweeteners essentially downregulates some taste receptors. 

As a result, people who use these frequently may start finding foods are less satisfying, an occurrence more often associated with those following normal diets because there aren't many sweet foods on carnivore aside from dairy. 

In our case, foods we consume, like steak, may not be as fulfilling as they would be without these compounds, causing us to eat more.

In plain terms, using artificial sweeteners can alter our tastes and over time affects our eating patterns, often pushing us to consume more food.

It is no wonder that a study of people who drank over ten diet drinks per week showed a much higher likelihood of gaining weight or becoming obese than those who did not consume diet drinks.

Unfortunately, diet soda can be even addictive because artificial sweeteners are addictive.

Sucralose & Inflammation

Sucralose is the most widely used artificial sweeteners among those approved by the FDA. Over the years, there has been an ongoing debate on the exact effects of sucralose on health.

From some studies, it has been shown that consuming sucralose can alter gut microbiota. 

These bacteria play an important role in processes related to the individual’s health including food digestion, fermentation, immune cell development, and enteric nervous system regulation. 

Inflammation is also a result of the alteration of gut microbiota, a condition referred to as gut microbiome dysbiosis. This condition has been linked to a series of diseases like obesity and diabetes. 

In simpler terms, sucralose increases the risk of developing tissue inflammation because it disrupts gut microbiota.

Inflammation is the cause of many diseases. Therefore, we can conclude that taking sucralose increases the risk of some of the common diseases.

The carnivore diet consists of animal products and their by-products which includes foods like beef, pork, eggs, and dairy products among other foods. Fruits and vegetables are not included in the diet. As a result, people who follow the carnivore diet should not find themselves consuming artificial sweeteners. 

The Safety of Artificial Sweeteners

In order to determine the safety of artificial sweeteners, a definition of the threshold of safety is necessary. The FDA has ruled out the risk of cancer from sweeteners but only in the short term. 

The effects of the large amounts of these chemicals in the long run still remain unknown, and in high doses, there have been observed instanced of cancerous growths in mice. We are not the same animals as mice but they are mammals and function in a similar manner to us. 

Aside from cancer, artificial sweeteners increase the risk of metabolic syndrome by 36% and type 2 diabetes by 67%. The interesting bit is that these are the same diseases that artificial sweeteners were meant to prevent in the first place.

Can I Use Stevia on the Carnivore diet?

Answer: Truthfully, the carnivore diet is not as stringent as you may believe. 

The carnivore diet has guidelines, and those guidelines basically say all plant-derived foods are not allowed. If you wish to use stevia on this diet, go for it, but know that it is not endorsed if you are aiming for the best results. 

Stevia may be “natural”, as in it is from a plant, but it is a highly processed sweetener that in no way is very natural. 

If you need a break from eating tasty ribeyes every now and then and feel like having a cheat meal, go for it. This could be one of those things for you, but try to keep in mind the ways these substances can affect you. This is especially important if you are coming to this diet to find healing or performance gains from health puzzles that you have not been able to solve in other ways.

I wouldn't weave this much caution into this answer if I didn't have real experience from these compounds affecting me. 

How Do I Fix My Bad Breath on Carnivore?

That’s a tough one. When you enter ketosis and start burning a lot of fat, ketones are actually expelled through various parts of your body, including through your breath. That's what this smell is and it is referred to as halitosis. 

Aside from simply brushing your teeth, there isn't much you can do. Eating more protein will lower your levels of ketones, thus eliminating some of the smell.

If you need a type of gum that avoids many of the effects of artificial sweeteners, I suggest using this gum.

The way forward is to try avoiding these altogether. 

Your body will thank you later.

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