If you’re on a diet and looking to lose weight but want some sweetness with your lemon water, think twice before using the nearest packets of artificial sweeteners. That’s according to a new study from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, where brain scans revealed that these sweeteners may increase your food cravings.
Artificial sweeteners is the term used for multiple different zero-calorie sugar alternatives; they’re popular with people who have to be careful about sugar consumption, such as diabetics, as well as dieters who want a taste of sweetness without the extra calories and blood sugar spike.
Sucralose, which is sold under various brand names, is arguably the most popular artificial sweetener — you can purchase it at stores and it is often provided in packets at restaurants and hotels. According to the new study, around 40-percent of adults in the United States use artificial sweeteners, many with the goal of losing weight.
That may be a problem, at least for people who are obese and women, according to the new research. The study involved 74 participants who consumed sweetened drinks over three visits. Some of the drinks were plain water as a control, while the others were sweetened with either regular sugar or sucralose.
The researchers looked at the participants’ brain activity following these drinks to see their effects, as well as changes in metabolic hormone levels and how much they ate from a buffet after the session was over. In comparison to the drinks containing real sugar, the sucralose drinks caused hormonal and brain changes in some obese and female participants that made them more likely to feel hungry and crave food.