London - Choosing diet drinks and artificial sweeteners instead of high-calorie treats may increase your craving for sugar, a study has found.
It is because sugar subsitutes tickle the tastebuds, but can’t fool the brain.
The pleasure we get from sweet treats is the result of a chemical called dopamine, which is released in the brain when sugar is consumed and is linked to a feeling of reward. Artificial sweeteners and other low-calorie options do not cause the same reaction, leaving dieters with their craving – and making them far more likely to binge on sugar later on.
“[Our discovery] implies that humans frequently ingesting low-calorie sweet products in a state of hunger may be more likely to ‘relapse’ and choose high-calorie alternatives in the future,” said Professor Ivan de Araujo, who led the study at Yale University’s School of Medicine. Rather than starve yourself of sugar, he said, it is better to consume very small amounts, tricking the brain into producing a pleasure response. The steady release of dopamine will prevent cravings from building up.
Professor de Araujo added: “The results suggest that a ‘happy medium’ could be a solution, combining sweeteners with minimal amounts of sugar so that energy metabolism doesn’t drop, while caloric intake is kept to a minimum.” - Daily Mail