Kolumne 46 | Süssstoffe - Gut oder Schlecht - Demo-Frey-Nutrition

Column 46 | Sweeteners - Good or Bad


Column 46 - Sweeteners: good or bad?
What is your opinion on the subject of sweeteners? Are they harmful or even dangerous? Do they, as we often hear, increase insulin levels and are therefore bad for a diet?


Andreas Frey answers
Whether or not you want to use sweeteners is something everyone has to decide for themselves. Some people can't live without them, others have never used them. Personally, I don't use any sweeteners. Not because they are potentially dangerous, but because I simply believe that I can use normal sugar in moderation when I want something sweet. Otherwise, I leave everything unsweetened.

However, I consider most sweeteners to be harmless as long as they are used in moderation. After all, most of them have been used for decades and have been tested in theory and practice.

The sweetener aspartame should generally be avoided because studies have shown that aspartame can promote the growth of cancer cells.
Sweeteners: yes or no?
The only thing I can warn against is the sweetener aspartame, as there are contradictory research results about it. Some studies link it to brain tumors. In the USA, almost every food manufacturer consciously avoids this sweetener and declares this on the respective product packaging. But there are still a number of manufacturers who do not want to do without aspartame. Coca Cola light, for example, contains aspartame - anyone who drinks one to two liters a day should perhaps think about it...

Sweeteners are said to raise insulin levels, which is something that should be avoided, especially when dieting, but also during the build-up phase. By suggesting to the body that it is receiving something sweet, contrary to the actual situation, sweeteners are said to cause the pancreas to increase insulin secretion. I personally do not believe in this theory - not least because I have not noticed any increase in insulin or the associated cravings after eating foods that contain sweeteners.

I always drink my coffee black
Sweeteners are often used in pig fattening. Those opposed to sweeteners claim that they are used precisely to make the pigs hungry and thus force them to fatten. On the other hand, it could also simply be to make the feed for fattening more palatable.

To ensure the good taste of protein powders, for example, manufacturers can hardly do without sweeteners.

A combination of two or even three sweeteners promises the greatest success: firstly, this creates a fairly natural-tasting sweetness. Secondly, potential side effects of the individual components can be avoided, as only a small amount of each is used.

This means that the so-called ADI value (Acceptable Daily Intake) is not exceeded - a factor that makes such protein products harmless in the light of the sweetener debate mentioned above.

In general, you should be aware that sweeteners are not natural. However, when used in moderation, they pose no danger. In my opinion, caution is only advised with aspartame due to some negative studies.


Schernhammer ES et al., "Consumption of artificial sweetener- and sugar-containing soda and risk of lymphoma and leukemia in men and women." Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Dec;96(6):1419-28. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.030833. | Soffritti M et al., "First experimental demonstration of the multipotential carcinogenic effects of aspartame administered in the feed to Sprague-Dawley rats." Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Mar;114(3):379-85. | Soffritti M et al., "Life-span exposure to low doses of aspartame beginning during prenatal life increases cancer effects in rats." Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Sep;115(9):1293-7. | Abhilash M et al., "Effect of long term intake of aspartame on antioxidant defense status in liver." Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Jun;49(6):1203-7. Epub 2011 Mar 3. | Ciappuccini R et al., "Aspartame-induced fibromyalgia, an unusual but curable cause of chronic pain." Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2010 Nov-Dec;28(6 Suppl 63):S131-3. Epub 2010 Dec 22. (Aspartame-induced fibromyalgia, an unusual but curable cause of chronic pain) | Soffritti M et al., "Aspartame administered in feed, beginning prenatally through life span, induces cancers of the liver and lung in male Swiss mice." Am J Ind Med. 2010 Dec;53(12):1197-206. | Walton RG et al., "Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients from a vulnerable population." Biol Psychiatry. 1993 Jul 1-15;34(1-2):13-7. (Adverse effects of aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients with a vulnerable personality) | Van den Eeden SK et al., "Aspartame ingestion and headaches: a randomized crossover trial." Neurology. 1994 Oct;44(10):1787-93. (Aspartame consumption and headache: a randomized, cross-sectional trial) | Davis DL et al., "Aspartame and incidence of brain malignancies." Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 May;17(5):1295-6. (Aspartame and the occurrence of malignant brain diseases | Szucs EF et al., "The effects of aspartame on mast cells and basophils." Food Chem Toxicol. 1986 Feb;24(2):171-4. (The effects of aspartame on mast cells and basophils) | Roberts HJ. "Aspartame disease: a possible cause for concomitant Graves` disease and pulmonary hypertension." Tex Heart Inst J. 2004;31(1):105; author reply 105-6. (Aspartame disease: a possible cause for concomitant Graves` disease and pulmonary hypertension)


I have been doing weight training for a year and go to the gym three times a week. Unfortunately, I am still not seeing any results. I weigh 80 kilos and consume around 60 grams of protein every day, as recommended by the German Nutrition Society (DGE). In your opinion, how much protein should I consume every day to build muscle mass?


Different values ​​apply to athletes than to non-athletes. While 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day may be OK for non-athletes, it is too little for athletes. I recommend that you increase your daily protein intake to around two grams per kilo of body weight, i.e. around 160 grams. That alone should bring about considerable progress.

Animal proteins are of higher quality than plant proteins
If you are more advanced and have more muscle mass, does it make sense to increase your protein intake even further? I think 2.5 to 3 grams of protein per kilo of body weight is right to continue to build muscle mass.

Only when a diet is imminent or for very advanced athletes can an increase to four grams make sense. Only ambitious competitive athletes need even more protein in the toughest pre-competition phase. This refers to the last four weeks before the competition, when the diet is particularly low in carbohydrates and proteins are primarily used to protect the muscles.

Protein shakes are suitable for consumption on the go
But it is not just the amount of protein that is important, but also the quality of the protein. Animal proteins are generally of higher quality than plant proteins. Beef, poultry, eggs, milk and cottage cheese should therefore be used as preferred sources to cover your needs. The use of protein powders is particularly useful if you are on the go a lot or have little time to prepare meals - and of course immediately after training as post-workout nutrition. Here too, animal proteins should be preferred. I cannot recommend protein products that only contain wheat, rice or even pea protein, as they have a low biological value and are therefore not particularly suitable for building muscle.

In addition to the quantity and quality of the individual proteins, the biological value of a mixture is also important. An optimal mix of proteins achieves a much higher biological value than the individual proteins have on their own. For this reason, protein powders with multiple components are preferable to single-component proteins. In this context, I recommend mixtures of casein, whey and egg.

For more information about proteins, see the article MACRONUTRIENT: PROTEIN . If you are interested in protein supplements and their advantages and disadvantages, I can recommend the article about THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PROTEINS highly recommend.

Back to blog