Can stevia cause weight gain? This is an obvious question for those who want to switch to a sugar-free diet.
Everyone is aware of the hazardous effects of sugar on health and how it can contribute to rapid weight gain. Mere two cups of tea with 1 tsp sugar for each cup can add 70 calories to your daily diet. Therefore switching to low-calorie sweeteners is eminent for those who want to lose weight faster.
Stevia is one of the hugely used sugar alternatives, due to its growing popularity in recent years. However, there are several myths associates with it.
After all, it is the question of your health. Thus in this article, we are going to give you deep insight into stevia and how it is related to weight loss.
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a natural sugar substitute, derived from the perennial shrub Stevia rebaudiana leaves. It is also known as sweetleaf or candyleaf plant.
Despite having over 240 species, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is the most expensive genus of this species, as it is mainly used for commercial and dietary purposes.
Stevia is approximately 50 to 350 times sweeter than regular sugar due to the presence of rebaudioside A and stevioside molecules in the active compound steviol glycoside. However, the level of sweetness varies depending on the process of deriving the plant extracts for making the sweetener. If it is used in a higher quantity than the recommended amount, it may provide you a bitter or slightly licorice aftertaste.
Due to several health benefits of stevia sweetener, it becomes extensively popular within a short span.
Is Stevia Safe?
Stevia is absolutely safe for consumption. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave stevia a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status in 2008.
Again, World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of steviol glycoside for adults is 4.0 to 4.4 mg per kg of body weight. For example, if your body weight is 60 kg, you can consume 4X60= 240mg steviol glycoside daily.
As stevia is much sweeter than cane sugar and beetroot sugar, a small quantity of this powder is enough to add sweetness to the food.
Furthermore, the compounds of stevia don’t break in higher temperatures, as other chemically produced artificial sweeteners do. It remains stable even at a temperature of 200˚C. Thus, you can use this sugar substitute for baking cooking or purposes with complete peace of mind.
Does Stevia Help You Lose Weight?
Stevia is an excellent sugar alternative for diabetes. This non-nutritive sweetener has zero Glycemic Index (GI). Thus, it contributes no extra carbohydrate to your food, whereas the GI of regular sugar is 65.
In addition to reducing daily calorie intake, stevia triggers insulin secretion. Steviol opens the calcium channel in pancreatic beta cells, stimulating insulin secretion following the glucose consumption in the body. Thus, it helps in lowering blood sugar levels significantly and is recommended for managing type 2 diabetes.
Although stevia lowers blood glucose levels, you may not see results as quickly as you would expect. As the life span of red blood cells is 120 days, it will take at least two months to show a significant difference.
Moreover, stevia works as an appetite suppressant. As per the research conducted at the University of Manchester, stevia beverages aid in appetite control, if consumed before lunch.
In the case of obese people, it is often observed that they feel hunger even after having food. It happens as a result of a defect in the synchronization of the hypothalamus and the stomach. Hypothalamus is an endocrine organ responsible for releasing hormones to send hunger signals. However, sometimes the gland continues hormones secretion even after the stomach gets full. It leads to overeating and gaining more calories and fat.
Having beverages such as tea, coffee, or juice with this non-toxic herb, before lunch or dinner will help to reduce the synchronization problem. This healthy sugar alternative helps to turn off the flow of hormones when the stomach is full. It is recommended to have a stevia beverage half an hour before the meal to get the optimum benefits.
Can Stevia Make You Gain Weight?
Taking stevia within the recommended amount will give you the best results. It is proven in more than 200 studies that stevia is absolutely safe when the ADI quantity is maintained.
In fact, several studies have concluded that excessive use of stevia can bestow an adverse effect on weight. It is stated that having sugar substitutes for a prolonged period may boost cravings for sweets and other appetizers.
Since stevia stimulates insulin release in the blood without adding any glucose, it addresses the existing sugar in the blood. Hence, if you are not diabetic, overconsumption of it will lead to a drop in blood sugar levels. Consequently, you will crave more food to balance that deficiency.
Another reason for weight gain while using stevia sugar substitute is human behavior. Suppose you love coffee and generally take two cups of it daily. If you start taking 5 cups of coffee in a day thinking of calorie-free sweetener, it will actually increase your weight.
A cup of coffee with sugar and milk contains 38 cal for milk and 30 cal for 1 tsp of sugar. You can reduce 60 cal by replacing sugar but add 114 cal for having extra 3 cups of coffee with milk. It will lead to adding 54 cal extra per day.
Stevia is a non-toxic, natural, and healthy sugar-replacement. Apart from giving a sweet taste without intensifying your blood sugar level, it has several health benefits.
It regulates blood pressure while keeping the heart rate within the normal range. Consuming stevia with cold tea alleviates heartburn. It also prevents a few types of cancer.
This natural plant-based sweetener is harmless for the kids also when the ADI is strictly maintained. Again, it is considered safe for consumption in pregnancy also. There are no side effects observed when it is taken in the recommended quantity. However, to be absolutely sure, consult your doctor before taking it if you have any persistent health complications or you want to use it during pregnancy.