Background: Substituting sweeteners with non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) may aid in glycaemic control and body weight management. Limited studies have investigated energy compensation, glycaemic and insulinaemic responses to artificial and natural NNS.
Objectives: This study compared the effects of consuming NNS (artificial versus natural) and sucrose (65 g) on energy intake, blood glucose and insulin responses.
Methods: Thirty healthy male subjects took part in this randomised, crossover study with four treatments: aspartame-, monk fruit-, stevia- and sucrose-sweetened beverages. On each test day, participants were asked to consume a standardised breakfast in the morning, and they were provided with test beverage as a preload in mid-morning and ad libitum lunch was provided an hour after test beverage consumption. Blood glucose and insulin concentrations were measured every 15 min within the first hour of preload consumption and every 30 min for the subsequent 2 h. Participants left the study site 3 h after preload consumption and completed a food diary for the rest of the day.
Results: Ad libitum lunch intake was significantly higher for the NNS treatments compared with sucrose (P=0.010). The energy 'saved' from replacing sucrose with NNS was fully compensated for at subsequent meals; hence, no difference in total daily energy intake was found between the treatments (P=0.831). The sucrose-sweetened beverage led to large spikes in blood glucose and insulin responses within the first hour, whereas these responses were higher for all three NNS beverages following the test lunch. Thus, there were no differences in total area under the curve (AUC) for glucose (P=0.960) and insulin (P=0.216) over 3 h between the four test beverages.
Conclusions: The consumption of calorie-free beverages sweetened with artificial and natural NNS have minimal influences on total daily energy intake, postprandial glucose and insulin compared with a sucrose-sweetened beverage.