Sugar-free sweeteners might fool your taste buds, but your brain knows better.
Sugar-free sweeteners activate brain areas that register pleasant taste, but not strongly enough to cause satiation. “That might drive you to eat something sweet or something calorific later on.”
Even as manufacturers get better at blending these agents to avoid peculiar tastes, their ability to help us cut down on calories and keep our weight in check is coming into question. A handful of studies, starting in the 1980s, suggested that regular use of artificial sweeteners might even make people eat more, rather than less, by stimulating their appetites without satisfying them.