Artificial sweeteners are a controversial topic. Not only when it comes to intermittent fasting, but it is also a big discussion for a healthy lifestyle in general. And if you’ve recently embarked on a journey with intermittent fasting, a question you may be asking yourself is: Will Equal break my fast?
While Equal doesn’t significantly impact blood sugar and insulin levels, studies show, in time, it can modify the way your body responds to insulin, and not for the better. Also, Equal is digested and metabolized in the body, so it stimulates the gut and it also inhibits autophagy.
Let’s dive deeper into this topic and see how and when Equal affects your fast, as well as what its benefits and side effects are.
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Will equal break my fast?
Equal, also known simply as aspartame is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners. When it first appeared on the market, it was seen as a healthier alternative to sugar, especially for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. Recent research has shown Equal is not as healthy as people thought. However, aspartame is not all bad.
With relation to fasting, whether it breaks or doesn’t break your fast depends on two factors: the quantity and the reason why you’re fasting.
If you fast for gut rest or autophagy, Equal is not beneficial. Because of the way it is metabolized in the body, it stimulates your gut and it takes you out of autophagy. You can still have aspartame in your diet in both of these cases, but only during your eating window.
For those who fast for weight loss, blood sugar management, or people that are dirty fasting, the answer is different. Equal has almost no calories or carbs and a small quantity won’t trigger an insulin response. As a result, for most people, Equal won’t break this type of fast.
Be mindful, however, that consuming aspartame for extended periods and in larger quantities can affect how your body processes insulin. In other words, to avoid having blood sugar issues because of it, you shouldn’t consume it every day and when you do have Equal, only use a small quantity. Also make sure that the Equal is high quality and zero-calorie. I recommend this one.
Where can I add Equal during my fast?
People usually add Equal to either their coffee or their tea during their fast. Both are ok and you can theoretically add it at any time during your fast as long as you don’t surpass about 40-50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, as per the FDA recommendations.
There are a few things you should keep in mind though. Studies have found artificial sweeteners can increase appetite, and Equal is no different. In other words, if you drink your coffee sweetened with Equal at 7 in the morning, but don’t plan to break your fast until noon, you might be in for 5 very difficult hours.
The easiest explanation for this is that our brain is “programmed” to crave carbs whenever we taste something sweet, so this is a risk you’ll have with any sweeteners, both artificial and natural. With Equal, there’s also the issue of its metabolization process which stimulates the gut and can again increase your appetite.
In other words, if you’ve never tried Equal before and have no idea how your body reacts to it, try not to have it until about an hour before you’d normally break your fast. If it increases your appetite, your first meal is close by. On the other hand, if you feel no changes in appetite, you can try to adjust the timing slowly each day, as long as you can tolerate it.
Benefits of Equal
Most of the benefits of Equal are related to blood sugar management for people with diabetes. In moderation, it doesn’t alter blood sugar levels, so it should help those with diabetes and insulin resistance manage their condition more easily.
It can also be a good alternative for those who are just embarking on a weight loss journey and they need to cut sugar out. Equal is used in many sugar-free recipes, so it can be a great substitute in coffee or tea, without any of the calories found in sugar.
Unlike other sweeteners, its taste is very similar to sugar, so it makes for an easier transition for those who are just starting to change their diet.
Side Effects of Equal
Equal may be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes in terms of blood sugar management, but it could also cause several issues for those affected by this disease. It is known that artificial sweeteners, and Equal, in particular, can disrupt appetite control. On one hand, it can increase appetite. On the other hand, in time, your body is “re-trained” to not expect calories anymore each time you eat something sweet. As a result, its capacity to process glucose can be affected, which in turn leads to more metabolic issues.
Some claims suggest prolonged Equal use could pose cancer risks. Studies are still conflictual here. While some suggest evidence to show aspartame is carcinogenic, others show no increase in risk, even with daily consumption. In other words, more studies are necessary to tell whether Equal is carcinogenic. However, if you’re worried or if you have a high risk of cancer, you may want to choose a natural, risk-free option as your sweetener. I recommend Stevia.
Other side effects include digestive issues such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea, dizziness, and headaches. If you’re using Equal during your fast, you should pay special attention to such side effects, as your body may be a bit more sensitive.
The bottom line
Will equal break a fast? If you’re fasting for gut rest or longevity/autophagy, it will break it. However, if you’re fasting for weight loss or blood sugar management, you can have small quantities of equal now and then without worrying.
Remember that artificial sweeteners can lead to an increase in appetite, so if you know you have a long fast ahead of you, you may want to skip the Equal. Finally, watch out for digestive issues, headaches, and make sure you don’t use it every day or in large quantities to limit the side effects.