By dotFIT experts
on November 02, 2008
There is no valid research showing that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is associated health problems or weight gain. More...

Artificial and Non-Nutritive Sweeteners

Artificial and Non-Nutritive Sweeteners


Q: What does the research indicate regarding the seemingly controversial artificial and non-nutritive sweeteners aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium?

A: The simple and correct answer is that, based on numerous studies and when used in moderation like anything else, there is no possibility of negative health effects from any of these sources. Moderation means you are not consuming excessive amounts of foods/drinks that contain these sweeteners. 

Research shows that moderate use of artificial sweeteners assists with positive lifestyle changes that lead to successful weight control.[1],[2],[3] 

On the other hand, there are numerous studies which show that sugar-sweetened beverages and type II diabetes and obesity are linked.[4],[5]

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic's evidence-based guidelines include the use of non-nutritive and artificial sweeteners to help people wean off of sugar, which is a far greater detriment because of how easy it is to consume excess calories from sugar. It is the excess consumption of calories which leads to weight gain and obesity, our nation's #1 problem.[6]

In a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and other studies on low-calorie sweeteners and weight control [1], James Hill, a noted obesity researcher, concluded:

"We need more tools to help people permanently reduce or avoid obesity and our best science suggests that the use of low/no calorie sweeteners (LCSs) is one such tool. On the basis of the research summarized in this study [including the safety], it's hard to understand why any health professionals would advise against the use of LCSs for people trying to achieve healthy weights".

dotFIT is an evidence-based Research & Development Company. We are bound by this scientific approach in both program and product development. In particular, our guiding principles on dietary supplement use, recommendations, formulations and manufacturing are best summed up by stating that dotFIT products must be 100% defensible through scientific research. (See pages 7-13 of Supplement Reference Guide for specific criteria formulation and manufacturing criteria at

Taking the evidence-based approach is our commitment to ourselves and our customers. We adhere to this approach because therein lie the safest, most effective solutions for our customers so that they and their families can achieve their desired results.

Q: Wasn't there a study that showed artificial sweeteners induced glucose intolerance by altering gut microbiota? 

A: You may have heard sound bites about artificial sweeteners being linked to obesity and diabetes [7]. It's important to note that the study was conducted primarily on mice, followed by a small number (7) of human subjects. The mice who were fed artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose and saccharin) for 11 weeks were less able to tolerate glucose (blood sugar), which is a risk factor for Type II diabetes. Among the human participants, 4 out of the 7 also developed glucose intolerance. The results of this one study does not mean artificial sweeteners causes diabetes or obesity in humans. It means mice who consumed artificial sweeteners developed glucose intolerance and changes in their gut bacteria. However, the metabolism and digestive system of mice are different than humans and the small number of subjects makes the data of this one study too unreliable to draw conclusions other than more research is needed, especially in light of the numerous studies which support the use of artificial sweeteners. [1],[4]

Q: Is Splenda (Sucralose) a safe artificial sweetener, and why do you use it? 

A: Yes. Sucralose is widely used as an artificial sweetener because it has been placed on the Generally Regarded as Safe List by the FDA, based on the results from more than 110 studies on both humans and animals. [8],[9] Sucralose is one of 7 non-nutritive sweeteners that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ADA) has listed as evidence-based (see Position Statement from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics below) and completely safe for the general population.[6] 

Sucralose (which is 600 times sweeter than sugar) is made using chlorine, but there is no evidence that the chlorine atoms in sucralose are any more dangerous than they are in sodium chloride (i.e. table salt). Plain sugar is transformed into sucralose by substituting three chlorine atoms for hydrogen, creating a substance that is not digested by the body and is therefore calorie-free.

As such, sucralose is used in minute amounts to improve the taste and mixing qualities of products without adding additional calories from sugar that might otherwise lead to unwanted weight gain.

There is no possibility of any kind of toxicity in normal everyday consumption. Sucralose has been shown to be safe at consumption levels of over 1,300 grams (or 1,345 packets of Splenda) a day for an average size male (84.1 kg), which is equivalent to that same number of nutrition bars or servings of powders daily! 

Here's an interesting fact to consider: 1,300 grams daily of any of the healthiest single essential nutrients in the human food supply would probably kill you very quickly, where sucralose consumed at that level wouldn't.

Beliefs and Evidence-based* Views

If someone has a non-scientific reason (i.e., un-referenced information found on the internet, or cult nutrition information that may be referenced but taken out of context of real-world usage) not to ingest minute amounts of certain ingredients, we completely understand and certainly won't try altering their emotional reasoning. Everyone has their own beliefs on non-nutritive or artificial sweeteners. 

We totally respect personal but individual views.

For anyone that would like to explore the evidence-based approach for the safe and effective use of non-nutritive sweeteners, please read on:

When we formulate something we do it safely and effectively following evidence-based* rules so that the vast majority of the population can use it, afford it and benefit. Aspartame, Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium are on the Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) list published by the FDA. These are 3 of the 7 non-nutritive sweeteners that are listed by the ADA as evidence-based and completely safe.[6] 

Additionally, artificial flavoring & sweeteners (and especially in the normal minute amounts) are often safer for the general population because of natural food allergies and can deliver the sweet taste with little to no calories, thus helping support weight control.[10] Products taken once/twice daily and/or on workout days, will cause NO problems unless a person is proven to be allergic to something in the contents. 

 *Evidence based: fitness/weight control solutions (or clinical decisions) that represent the best available evidence

From University of California Berkeley:

Artificial & Natural

Often, artificial ingredients are used to improve a product by making it one or more of the following: better tasting, safer, less expensive but deliver the same basic nutritional value with fewer calories. Artificial sweeteners (e.g. Aspartame, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, etc.) are used in order to reduce total sugar content. All approved sweeteners and infinitesimal amounts of binders (as in supplements) used in many products are perfectly amenable to the human digestive system and 100% safe for the general population (see FDA, ADA and Generally Regarded as Safe [GRAS] list for position on sweeteners, binders, etc). Additionally, artificial substitutes (e.g. sweeteners, colorings, flavorings, binders, etc.) are often safer than the "natural" counterpart because of common natural food allergies and the ability to deliver the desired sweetness with little to no calories to potentially help control weight.[10]

From the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 May;112(5):739-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.03.009. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: use of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners. Fitch C, Keim KS; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.


It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive sweeteners and nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS) when consumed within an eating plan that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes, as well as individual health goals and personal preference. A preference for sweet taste is innate and sweeteners can increase the pleasure of eating. Nutritive sweeteners contain carbohydrate and provide energy. They occur naturally in foods or may be added in food processing or by consumers before consumption. Higher intake of added sugars is associated with higher energy intake and lower diet quality, which can increase the risk for obesity, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. On average, adults in the United States consume 14.6% of energy from added sugars. Polyols (also referred to as sugar alcohols) add sweetness with less energy and may reduce risk for dental caries. Foods containing polyols and/or no added sugars can, within food labeling guidelines, be labeled as sugar-free. NNS are those that sweeten with minimal or no carbohydrate or energy. They are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as food additives or generally recognized as safe. The Food and Drug Administration approval process includes determination of probable intake, cumulative effect from all uses, and toxicology studies in animals. Seven NNS are approved for use in the United States: acesulfame K, aspartame, luo han guo fruit extract, neotame, saccharin, stevia, and sucralose. They have different functional properties that may affect perceived taste or use in different food applications. All NNS approved for use in the United States are determined to be safe.

[1] Paige E Miller and Vanessa Perez. Low-calorie sweeteners and body weight and composition: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2014;100:765–77. Printed in USA

[2] John Foreyt, Ronald Kleinman, Rebecca J. Brown, and Rachel Lindstrom. The Use of Low-Calorie Sweeteners by Children: Implications for Weight Management. J Nutr. 2012 June; 142(6): 1155S–1162S. Published online 2012 May 9. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.149609. PMCID: PMC3738224

[3] G. Harvey Anderson4,*, John Foreyt5, Madeleine Sigman-Grant6, and David B. Allison. The Use of Low-Calorie Sweeteners by Adults: Impact on Weight Management. © 2012 American Society for Nutrition

[4] Lawrence de Koning, Vasanti S Malik, Eric B Rimm, Walter C Willett, and Frank B Hu. Sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverage consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 June; 93(6): 1321–1327. Published online 2011 March 23. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.007922 PMCID: PMC3095502

[5] BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 15 January 2013). Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta analyses of randomized controlled trials and cohort studies. BMJ 2013;346:e7492

[6] Fitch C, Keim KS; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: use of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 May;112(5):739-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.03.009. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

[7] Suez et. al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature (2014) doi:10.1038/nature13793

[8] Grotz VL, Munro IC. An overview of the safety of sucralose. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2009 Oct;55(1):1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2009.05.011. Epub 2009 May 21.

[9] AlDeeb OA, Mahgoub H, Foda NH. Sucralose. Profiles Drug Subst Excip Relat Methodol. 2013;38:423-62. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-407691-4.00010-1.

[10] Pereira MA. Diet beverages and the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease: a review of the evidence. Nutr Rev. 2013 Jul;71(7):433-40. doi: 10.1111/nure.12038. Epub 2013 May 2.   ALLERGIES

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