Is aspartame keto? If you’re looking for an artificial sweetener to have on your low carb diet you may be thinking about trying aspartame. We’ll take a look at this sugar substitute to determine if it fits into a keto diet.
If you have a sweet tooth, check out our posts on sweet keto snacks and keto chocolate.
Table of Contents
What is Aspartame?
Aspartame is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners in the world, but it’s also one of the most controversial. Aspartame is sold under the brand name Equal or NutraSweet. This artificial sweetener is also found in many diet soda and many sugar-free or reduced-calorie foods. It very common to find aspartame in packaged foods that are “diet” branded.
Aspartame is made up of two naturally occurring amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that you get from food. Aspartic acid is a non-essential amino acid that your body can produce. Aspartame is considered to be 200 times sweeter than regular table sugar. This means the amount of aspartame that you need to sweeten food is very low and the calorie content is usually considered low enough to be recorded as 0.
Different types of artificial sweeteners have different tastes from regular table sugar. Aspartame is considered to be one of the closest taste profiles to sugar. However, the sweetness of aspartame lasts longer than sucrose (sugar) so it is often blended with other artificial sweeteners like acesulfame potassium to produce a sweetener that tastes more like table sugar.
Is Aspartame Safe?
Aspartame is one of the most rigorously tested food products of all time. The safety of aspartame has been studied ever since it was discovered. Aspartame has been deemed safe by over 100 regulatory bodies in several different countries including:
- The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- UK Food Standards Agency
- United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
- World Health Organization
- European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
- Health Canada
- American Dietetic Association
- American Heart Association
These organizations have all said that aspartame is safe for human consumption. There is one concern though.
Aspartame contains Phenylalanine. This is a naturally occurring amino acid but it’s a health hazard to people with phenylketonuria (PKU). PKU is a rare disease that prevents phenylalanine from being metabolized. Because of this, products containing aspartame are labeled “Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine” in the United States. If you have PKU you should avoid aspartame.
There have been rumors that aspartame causes cancer or neurotoxic effects. Studies have not been able to show any link between aspartame and these conditions. The evidence suggests that aspartame is safe.
How Much Aspartame Can You Consume?
Most things are safe in moderation, but there has to be a limit where you’re consuming too much. According to the FDA and EFSA, a safe acceptable daily intake amount of aspartame is 40-50 milligrams of aspartame per kilogram of body weight. Diet soda contains about 185 milligrams of aspartame. If you weight 68 kilograms or 150 pounds, then you would need to drink over 15 cans of diet soda to go over your daily limit.
What are the Side Effects of Aspartame?
We mentioned above that studies don’t show a link between cancer and neurotoxic effects, however, users of aspartame have reported several side effects. Some of these side effects include headaches, seizures, depression, ADHD, dizziness, birth defects, Alzheimer’s disease, MS, and weight gain. There are still studies going on to confirm the link between aspartame and these ailments. At this time the studies seem to be inconsistent.
Is Aspartame Keto
When we evaluate whether food or supplement is keto we generally look at the macronutrients of the substance. For keto, the ideal macronutrient mix is low carb, high fat, and moderate protein. Aspartame contains basically no carbs because the amount needed to sweeten food is so small. It also contains no fat or protein and is generally considered to have no calories.
Based on our assessment aspartame is keto. Since it contains no carbs or calories, we think that aspartame fits into a keto diet.
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The Bottom Line on Aspartame
Overall, aspartame is a good option for people looking for an alternative to sugar that will keep them in ketosis. However, you may want to watch out for some of the listed side effects we mentioned above. In particular, some people who drink excess diet soda find that they have weight loss stalls. If you’re on keto, consuming aspartame, and are having a hard time losing weight, you may want to experiment with using less aspartame.
Most studies show that aspartame is safe for use and is not linked to things like cancer. Hundreds of organizations around the world have approved aspartame for use as a food product and consider it safe for human consumption.
We think aspartame is a fine sweetener. However, there are several competing artificial and natural sweeteners that are both low in carbs and calories. These alternative sweeteners are also a good choice for a keto diet.