Some diet sodas disrupt your metabolism when you drink them with carb-filled foods, study says

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  • A study from Yale University found that while low-calorie sweeteners aren't bad on their own, when consumed along with a carbohydrate they can confuse your brain and negatively affect your metabolism.
  • The scientific community has been divided on the ways sweeteners affect health. Some studies say they can damage your metabolism while others say they can assist weight loss.
  • The study had 45 people drink seven low-calorie drinks over the course of two weeks, and found that there were only negative effects when consumed with a carbohydrate.
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Those low-calorie sweeteners you're putting in your coffee or finding in your soda may not be as bad as you think, according to a small new study from Yale University.

There's been plenty of research on the dangers low-calorie sweeteners, such as Stevia and Splenda, pose to your metabolism. One 2016 study linked sweetener consumption to diabetes, and a 2009 study tied it to weight gain. But there's also been research suggesting these sweeteners may actually help with weight loss.

The new research, published Wednesday in the journal Cell Metabolism, suggests both of those findings could be true, and it all comes to down to what you're eating with your sweetened beverage.

The study, conducted on 45 healthy people, found that people who drank drinks with the sweetener sucralose only experienced rapid impairment to their glucose metabolism levels when a carbohydrate was added to their meal. But that wasn't the case for people who skipped carbs, or who had drinks sweetened with real sugar.

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The 45 participants drank seven low-calorie drinks over the course of two weeks, each containing the equivalent of two sachets of Splenda.

Those who consumed the drinks with the sweetener between meals did not see any metabolic changes, but when the drink was paired with a carbohydrate, it seemed to confuse the brain and effect sugar metabolism levels. 

Given the varied bodily responses, Sarah Berry, a lecturer on Nutritional Sciences at King's College London, said in a statement: "This research supports previous findings to suggest that we should not see diet drinks as a healthy alternative to sugar sweetened drinks." She also added that the study only focused on sucralose, so the results may not be applicable to all sweeteners.

The scientific community agrees that too much sugar is bad, but they're divided on artificial sweeteners

While eating too much sugar has been found to cause obesity and diabetes, the health effects of low-calorie diet drinks are still being debated. These sweeteners, created to offer a sweet but calorie-free alternative to sugar, are found in thousands of products.

The uncoupling theory says that low-calorie sweeteners, which uncouple sweet tastes with dietary energy, can confuse the body, and may lead to more sugar consumption, which can in turn lead to weight gain and diabetes. When sugar is ingested, a neurological reward system is activated, but when artificial sweeteners are ingested, the reward system isn't satisfied, due to the lack of calories.

But this study suggests the uncoupling hypothesis may be wrong, and it is the consuming of low calorie sweeteners with carbs that can mess up metabolism. 

It means it might not be the best idea to order fries with your Diet Coke.

Read more:

I kept track of how much sugar I ate in a week, and my home-cooked meals were the worst culprits

10 scary things that happen to your body when you eat too much sugar

9 reasons why experts say to cut back on sugar, from boosting your productivity to saving you money

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