Nutritionist Nikki Hart explains how low-calorie sweeteners like aspartame can help with weight management.
We’re generally happier and more confident at our optimum weight, but getting there can be a challenge. Time pressures and temptations mean that instead of wise food and drink choices, we often reach for calorie-laden snacks that can ultimately contribute to weight gain. Luckily, there are ways we can help manage our calorie intake, and thereby maintain our weight without having to give up all the things we love. Foods sweetened with low calorie sweeteners such as aspartame are a great example of this.
We put on weight when our energy intake (measured in either calories, or kilojoules) is higher than our energy output. By replacing full-calorie options with alternatives that use low-calorie sweeteners, you can reduce your overall energy intake. This is one of the key factors to managing your weight, particularly if you are looking to decrease yours.
So, how can low-calorie sweeteners such as aspartame help us in our everyday lives? There are many ways. Whether it’s in your morning pick-me-up, that mid-afternoon energy snack, or socialising with friends, they can provide some sensible options that make weight management more achievable:
· Swap your usual flat-white with one sugar, to a ‘trim’ flat white with a low-calorie sugar alternative. You’ll still get your sweet coffee hit, but with reduced calories. Changing this easy daily habit could save you 75 calories (314kJ) a day – that’s 3kg per year!
· Try swapping your wine for a diet beverage now and then. A large (250ml) glass of red wine contains 171 calories (716kJ), so the average drinker will put on 7kg per year if these calories are not burnt off.
· Chewing sugar free gum is a good alternative to excessive snacking during the day, which often has very little to do with actual hunger, and more to do with boredom and lack of stimulation.
· Ideally, snacks between meals should each be kept to approximately 100-200 calories. Some healthy options are: ten almonds, 3-6 dried apricots, a cup of pretzels or popcorn, a rice cracker with Nutella, and a Vitawheat with hummus
· Instead of devouring a muffin or chocolate bar why not have a diet soft drink and a piece of fruit. Often thirst is mistaken for hunger (especially when we are bored). The fruit and diet soft drink will help to satisfy your sweet craving, thirst, and keep you feeling full.
There is a logic that applies to balancing your diet; if you know you have a big dinner planned, try to limit your calorie intake during the day. Making sensible choices, like switching high-calorie items for diet replacements, will help you to control your collective calorie intake and thereby more effectively manage your weight.
One of the most common and well-researched low-calorie sweeteners today is aspartame. Endorsed by every major food safety organization worldwide, including the NZ Food Safety Authority, it’s used in foods and beverages for all ages and populations and is a great way to manage your calorie intake.*
*Phenylketonurics, aspartame contains phenylalanine.
Nikki Hart – Nutritionist
MSc Nutrition (Hons)
Nikki holds a post-graduate diploma in dietetics and is a respected nutritionist with over 13 years experience. She also has achieved First Class Honours for a Masters Degree in Hydration from Massey University.
This ad was produced with the support of Coca-Cola Oceania. References: NHMRC, Nutrient References for Australia and New Zealand including Recommended Dietary Intakes. Canberra: NHMRC ,Wellington: Ministry of Health, 2006. Bellisle F. Drewnowski A. Intense sweetners, energy intake and the control of body weight. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun:61(6):691-700.