Aspartame and Weight Gain
My Love Affair with diet Colas
I have been a foodie for as long as I can remember. Most foodies do not begin the food journey with a solid understanding of nutritional and balanced eating. When I was a young, body image obsessed foodie I hated my thighs and bootie. I would look in the full length mirror each morning and vow to never eat again. For a time that worked but then noon rolled around and I exchanged starvation for binge eating.
I made myself dizzy riding the diet pendulum from starvation to binging and back to starvation. I attempted to settle the pendulum on the side of starvation aided by diet soda. I lived off Tab in the 1970s . I transitioned easily from saccharine to aspartame in 1981 and traded Tab for the full spectrum of diet sodas that hit the market. I was ecstatic that I could fill up on zero calorie diet cola and have the added benefit of lots of energizing caffeine. The plan sounded good but did not work out so well. I could not seem to beat the insatiable simple carbohydrate cravings that, after years of aspartame abuse, eventually overwhelmed me every afternoon. I had no idea why I craved simple carbs like I did but I knew that if this continued then I would trade my larger jeans in for yet larger jeans.
A health foodie suggested that I look into the role that aspartame plays in weight management. She rightfully pointed out that most diet soda junkies, like me, struggled with that extra 20 or 30 or 40 pounds. I could not deny the correlation between aspartame and extra weight. Indeed the case against aspartame was not difficult to build.
Aspartame contributes to weight gain in at least three ways:
1. Aspartame causes cravings for simple carbohydrates and refined sugar. This artificial sweetener contains the amino acid phenylalanine. This amino acid does not pose health risks for most people when it occurs naturally in foods but when it is in the form of a phenylalanine isolate it suppresses the formation of dopamine and serotonin. Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that work together to regulate metabolism and food cravings. If serotonin levels do not rise when you eat carbohydrates then you will crave more and more food. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that causes you to feel satisfied. If both serotonin and dopamine are inhibited then the body will crave more and more simple carbohydrates without satisfaction and will fail to metabolize those extra calories. The diet cola in your hand has no calories but the bags of chips, crackers, and cookies you crave (and consume) have plenty of calories! My diet became a "Super size me" nightmare!
2. Another major component of aspartame molecule is methyl alcohol. Methyl alcohol prohibits the body from breaking down food properly. Food simply cannot be metabolized in the normal manner. This causes severe acidosis in the event of methyl alcohol poisoning and chronic acidosis for the habitual drinker of diet beverages. The body that cannot metabolize its food properly will gain weight.
3. The neuroexcitotoxins found in aspartame act upon the brain to stimulate appetite. These toxins do not actually alter the taste of food but because they stimulate the appetite, food tastes better. Furthermore this is a potent chelating agent which carries heavy metals including arsenic into the body. Arsenic destroys your metabolism by blocking the body's ability to burn calories, thus promoting weight gain.
I gave up aspartame 6 months ago. It has been a difficult journey but I am glad I braved the hard times. When I gave up my favorite diet cola the cravings diminished and I lost 8 pounds in 3 weeks. My appetite for nourishing foods has increased and I truly feel better. I can be a foodie AND manage my weight better without my favorite diet cola. Score!
Helps with Weight management
This is a great reference guide for those who are concerned about what is added to their food. It is compact enough to fit in your purse. It will prove to be a handy guide when you are reading labels!