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Sugar Is Not Very Satiating

Summary:
One of the things I have emphasized in my diet and health posts is that eating sugar makes you hungry. See for example:The same kind of spike up in insulin can make people hungry after eating sugar can make people hungry after consuming nonsugar sweeteners—some more so than others. See The paper “Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels” by Stephen Anton, Corby Martin, Hongmei Han, Sandra Coulon, William Cefalu, Paula Geiselman and Donald Williamson shows that sugar has enough stronger insulin spike (or something else that has the same effect on satiation) to cancel

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Sugar Is Not Very Satiating

One of the things I have emphasized in my diet and health posts is that eating sugar makes you hungry. See for example:

The same kind of spike up in insulin can make people hungry after eating sugar can make people hungry after consuming nonsugar sweeteners—some more so than others. See

The paper “Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels” by Stephen Anton, Corby Martin, Hongmei Han, Sandra Coulon, William Cefalu, Paula Geiselman and Donald Williamson shows that sugar has enough stronger insulin spike (or something else that has the same effect on satiation) to cancel out the satiating effect of sugar’s extra calories when compared to aspartame and stevia. As a result, people ended up eating more calories over the day by the amount of extra calories that were in the sugar as compared to the stevia or aspartame.

The insulin spikes themselves can be seen in the authors’ Figure 3:

Sugar Is Not Very Satiating

As you can see, whether with sugar, stevia or aspartame the “preload” snack caused a substantial increase in insulin. But the increase in insulin is worst with sugar, least with stevia and in between with aspartame.

Simply because stevia and aspartame are not as bad as sugar in causing an insulin spike doesn’t mean they are OK. Aspartame has MSG-like side-effects that make it a good thing to avoid. (See “The Case Against Monosodium Glutamate—Why MSG is Dangerous (as are Other Sources of Free Glutamate) and How the Dangers Have Been Covered Up.”) The debate about whether Stevia is OK or not rages in the comment section of “Which Nonsugar Sweeteners are OK? An Insulin-Index Perspective.”

To the extent the problem with Stevia is its effect in making you hungrier, you can judge for yourself by experimenting with how hungry you feel after, say a soft drink sweetened only with stevia and containing few calories. This is actually not so different in spirit from one of the measures Stephen Anton, Corby Martin, Hongmei Han, Sandra Coulon, William Cefalu, Paula Geiselman and Donald Williamson use. They write:

Computerized VAS were used to assess subjective ratings of hunger, satiety, fullness, as well as hedonic ratings of food (i.e., appearance, aroma, flavor, texture and palatability). When completing the VAS, participants rate the intensity of these subjective states on a 100-unit line from “not at all” to “extremely.” Studies support the reliability and validity of VAS for measuring subjective states related to food intake (Geiselman et al, 1998; Flint, Raben, Blundell, & Astrup, 2000).

The bottom line of “Which Nonsugar Sweeteners are OK? An Insulin-Index Perspective” is that oligosacchides (such as chicory root) or erythritol seem to be the safest nonsugar sweeteners. “Swerve” seems to have erythritol and oligosaccharides as its main sweeteners, though other things could be hiding under the label “natural flavors.” I have also been able to find on Amazon sweeteners that are mainly erythritol and others that are mainly oligosaccharides if you prefer to lean in one of those directions. Of course, as I emphasize in “Which Nonsugar Sweeteners are OK? An Insulin-Index Perspective,” anything sweet is likely to make you think about and anticipate food, which has some tendency to raise insulin and make you feel hungry.

For annotated links to other posts on diet and health, see:

Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

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