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Weight Management Nuggets

Low calorie sweeteners are "free foods." They make food taste sweet, do not contain calories and do not raise blood glucose levels. Remember that artificial sweeteners are still empty calories, meaning they provide little, if any beneficial nutrients. Use artificial sweeteners sensibly. It's okay to substitute a diet soda for a regular soda, but not for milk or other more nutritious beverages. Also, diet drinks shouldn't take the place of plain water.

Saccharin can be used in both hot and cold foods to make them sweeter. Evidence from studies done on people suggests that saccharin does not cause cancer in humans. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar.

Aspartame (NutraSweet) is another low calorie sweetener. You need to use only a tiny amount to sweeten food. It is 180 to 220 times sweetener than sugar.

People who have the rare disease phenylketonuria (PKU) should not eat or drink anything with aspartame because it contains phenylalanine. Because high temperatures can decrease its sweetness, check with the manufacturer for guidelines when using aspartame in recipes.

Sucralose (Splenda) is the newest low calorie sweetener on the market. Sucralose can be used anywhere sugar can be used, such as in beverages, baked goods, and processed foods. Like other low calorie sweeteners, you may need to add some sugar to recipes to improve texture.

Stevia is 100 percent plant bases and can be used for cooking and baking and does not leave the unpleasant after taste. It is 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. To date, the FDA has not approved it for use as a sweetener in the United States, but Stevia may be sold as a dietary supplement. Stevia is said to be the sweetener of the future, due to its affects to lower blood glucose levels and the fact that it is a natural sweetener.

All of these low calorie sweeteners may help people who have diabetes or are overweight, reduce calories and stick to a healthy meal plan. In addition, these sweeteners are useful for reducing calories and carbohydrates when used instead of sugar in coffee, tea, cereal, and on fruit.

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