We have had a number of people ask if it’s Ok to eat “sugar-free” chocolate – i.e. chocolate that uses artificial sweeteners rather than sugar. The short answer is a very qualified “yes – but”.
– It is allowed under the Rules of the Challenge that state you need to stay under 10g of sugar for every 100g and this chocolate is typically around 6-8g of sugar per 100g. But we don’t recommend ongoing consumption of artificial sweeteners for overall health.
– A key guiding principle of a healthy diet is to “eat real food” that our body evolved over many thousands of years to metabolise properly, and avoid industrial or manufactured foods that are new to the human diet. Simply ask yourself – do you want to be a human lab rat proving whether these new chemical compounds cause cancer or diabetes?
– There are some worrying results coming from lab testing of these sweeteners on both rats and humans. There is concern on several fronts. (1) That they confuse the amygdala and “reward centre” of the brain, which previously associated sweetness with calorie-rich foods, meaning your body now gets conditioned to no longer trigger a limit on food intake whenever it encounters sweet foods. In some tests rats actually gained more weight after taking artificial sweeteners and were less able to lose that weight, than rats previously fed sugar. This applied even when a natural sweetener like Stevia was used instead of a manufactured sweetener like saccharine. (2) Scientists have observed the development of “glucose intolerance” in both rats and humans which is a pre-diabetic condition where the body no longer responds as rapidly in metabolising glucose in the blood stream (3) Scientists have also observed a change in the intestinal gut bacteria in both rats and humans from the use of artificial sweeteners. When that same gut bacteria was introduced to other rats, they then developed glucose intolerance.
You can read more about this here:
– One key goal of the challenge is to re-condition your taste buds to accept a lower level of sweetness as the “new normal”. If you continue to eat sweet chocolate (even if its “sugar free) you will not do this.
– Almost all these chocolates are made with an artificial sweetener called “Maltitol” which comes with a general health warning that consuming more than 100g in a day can have laxative effects. Other reports indicate it can cause gas and/or abdominal pain. So if you are going to try it, please limit yourself to a small amount – e.g. a 35g bar.