Stevia and Belly Fat…

belly fat, stomach, trim tummyIn this whole weight loss and health game, I like to be my own grand experiment to see what works for me and makes me feel amazing, hopefully all the time.

So I read up on different healthy food related topics, try them on for size, then make up my own mind as to whether what is written is true for me. Which is why I might be in favour of a product at a point in time, but after using for six months or more, I will change my mind because of the effects it has on me.

One of these products for which I have had a recent switch-o change-o is Stevia.

Stevia is a green plant that looks like this…

stevia, sugar, natural, weight loss

And if you grew this in your backyard and popped a few leaves in your tea every now and then, we probably wouldn’t be having this chat.

However after various amounts of processing (did anyone say highly processed refined sweetener?) it ends up looking like green powder at first (which I tried at one point and it was quite yuk. So yuk in fact that I couldn’t finish the packet and threw it away. I hate wasting food but I just couldn’t stand this.)

So that means it undergoes even more processing to become a more palatable white powder with a knock out sweetness factor of 1 teaspoon being equivalent to 1 cup of sugar. So a little goes a very long way.

stevia, sugar, natural,

So I was the champion of Stevia for quite a while there – it has no calories, didn’t seem to have any of the normal negative effects of artificial sweeteners, supposed to be all natural. The Japanese have been using it for centuries without any ill effects and yet in two different instances something curious happened for me.

When away on our recent Hawaiian holiday, I didn’t have Stevia for the whole two weeks. I ate other foods I normally didn’t eat and we were pretty active the whole time. After the first week though, I started to notice that my stomach and mid section started to reduce. With the way I eat now, I am pretty slim all over but still had a bit of stubborn belly fat and seemed to be bloated most of the time. I don’t eat grains, so it definitely wasn’t a wheat belly but whatever it was, not having Stevia seemed to make it go away.

When I got back home, I just resumed having Stevia in my tea or hot chocolate as I normally do and didn’t think much of it until I was doing a 3 day detox with Schkinny Maninny, which meant no Stevia again and the same mid section reducing happened again.

So I thought I would look into it a little more and found some information on other blogs and this is what they had to say…

“Stevia contributes to abdominal weight gain and messes with your hormones” – eeek!

Read more here.

From a study done it said “Both the stevia leaves and stevioside diets significantly increased abdominal fat content.”

Read more here.

This post explores more about the effects on your hormones and she noticed changes in her menstrual cycle as well as detox pains when trying to get off it.

I think for me, the way I was eating it was exacerbating the problem, as it was in my tea on an empty stomach and pretty much all day. Here is an explanation of what happens from the Detox Diva:-

“The problem with this point is that stevia, being a “sweet” taste to the body, tricks the body into believing there will be glucose (the body’s preferred fuel) so the body clears the way for this glucose by lowering blood sugar in the body clearing the way for glucose to be released. When it isn’t released, and it won’t be because stevia doesn’t contain glucose, adrenaline and cortisol surge to mobilize or worse (for those on low to no carb diets) create sugar from tissues like liver, muscle tissue, other body tissues, glands like the thymus, or proteins geared to create muscle tissue.”

So it leads to being hypoglycemic (not enough glucose), which stresses the body and affects more hormones and now when I think about it, when I did have it like this, I felt like I needed more of the tea, one cup after the other as the body was trying to find fuel but it wasn’t getting any and by continuing to drink it, I was just making it worse.

adrian alford photography, tea, herbal tea,

Image by www.adrianalfordphotography.com

So if you use Stevia in your cooking where there are already other sweeteners present, just to elevate the sweetness a little more without all the calories, then all the above may not be as pronounced.

However even if all this is not completely scientifically proven, I can tell by the effects it had on increasing my mid section and reading stories from others, that it is not something I should be eating regularly or long term.

Belly fat is one thing however the most concerning part for me is any possible damage or effects to hormones. My mother and grandmother both had breast cancer caused by oestrogen dominance and so anything I eat that may mess with that, is definitely off the table for me. It’s just not worth it.

I have been about a month off it again and when I have my hot chocolate, I am just having a teaspoon of rice malt syrup in it. It doesn’t taste as sweet but I’m getting used to that and it definitely feels like it’s feeding my brain. I feel more alert and less spacey. And also my mid section is continuing to reduce again with only this small change and still never being hungry – just picking the right things to eat.

So this whole health thing is a journey of discovery and if I change my mind about something I am certainly going to tell you because I want you to feel fantastic too!

Live & learn,

Kristy xxx

join in, mail list, email, welcome

(Join us! One love note a week with healthy recipes, what I’m trying out that week, thoughts, weight loss tips, insights & fun. If it doesn’t feel right after a while then unsubscribe at any time. But for now, we’d love you to join our crew – click here.)

29 thoughts on “Stevia and Belly Fat…

  1. Pam

    Really interesting article Kristy. I won’t be buying stevia any time soon, but it was not something I used anyway. Like you, I always thought it was okay to use as a replacement sweetener.

    Reply
  2. Polly

    I use stevia like crazy while trying to give up sugar, not working at all by the way. I have noticed major belly fat that I’ve never had before. I thought maybe it was just my pre-menopausal age (48). But then while eating my special K with stevia this morning I decided to google stevia and belly fat and now I think I’ve found my answer. I’m going to quit right now and see what happens. Thanks so much for the info!!!

    Reply
    1. slimbirdy Post author

      Hi Polly, I hope it has helped! I think I learn more from what everyone tries and writes about, then I do from ‘official’ health information which is all contradictory anyway. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
      1. Claire J Schooley

        Ok so stevia isn’t good to use for weighloss! Are any of the artificial sweeteners decent to use for weighloss?

        Reply
        1. slimbirdy Post author

          Hi Claire, thanks for stopping by! Unfortunately nothing artificial is ever going to be better than anything natural. In terms of weight loss though, the whole diet and activity level needs to be taken into account. The funny thing is that now after the low carb and no sugar phase, you have a whole bunch of people who were doing that for years (me included) who have developed other health issues (like hypothyroidism) while trying to lose weight and be healthy. Turns out you actually need some sugar and certain levels of carbs in your diet or else your body relies too much on stress hormones just to fuel your body. And it can’t do this forever. So the only things really to avoid are polyunsaturated fats – which damage your cells, chemicals in processed foods which cause all kinds of issues and if you are trying to lose weight your carbs should mostly be coming from sugar like fruit and honey instead of starch like bread, potatoes and rice. Turns out that sugars increase the metabolism when eaten with adequate nutrients and so it helps the body fuel up more easily, reduce stress and release the fat. Lots more to it as you can imagine but sugar is actually not the enemy. I will be writing more about it in future blog posts. Cheers Kristy

          Reply
    2. Margaret Birnie

      I am so happy to find this article
      I have been using Dtevia for some time now. I have been gaining weight after quitting smoking but without over eating it was still getting way out of control and I have developed crazy belly fat. Tonight it dawned on me for some reason, to question the use of stevia. Bingo !! Your article makes perfect sense to me. Thank you so very much !!

      Reply
      1. slimbirdy Post author

        Hey Maggie, you’re welcome! It took me a while to work it out too. Your body needs real glucose to work with, not the fake stuff or else it gets into all kinds of trouble. I hope you are well. Cheers Kristy

        Reply
  3. LC

    Started using stevia powder from good organic company… great stuff, only used a little and have had a huge increase in belly fat in 3 months, even around the kidneys which is uncomfortable when I walk. I am relatively slim and do isometrics so this is the first time I have had such gain in only one area.
    I suspected the stevia which I had started using in coffee in the spring and then over the summer switched to tea and using it in smoothies in the morning.
    I am ditching all the stevia. I just do not trust any white processed powders. As a diabetic I should know better and just keep the sweet level to no higher than apple.
    Thanks for your blog.

    Reply
    1. slimbirdy Post author

      Thanks for your comment! Yes I’ve changed my mind on quite a few ‘health’ products over the years. Your body always knows best.

      Reply
  4. KIm

    Thank you for this article.

    I started using a stevia blend containing: organic erythritol 99.20% (from organic corn) and organic steviol glycosides 0.73%.

    I had never used an artificial sweetner before. For the first time, I was adding it to my coffee and cups of hot water to warm me up during the winter, as my water intake. I would have averaged eight-twelve teaspoons of this product a day.

    Straight away I started gaining lower belly fat that I had never had before and my breasts became humongous and tender. My face also looked bloated and unhealthy. So I started dieting, specifically, eating very clean, and I couldn’t shift the weight. I am always in shape and lean, especially as a bodybuilder, and after two months of hardcore dieting, I still was fat. This was not my body type patterning of gaining weight. If I gained weight, it would be my legs and buttocks. Suddenly, my fat patterns were completely different, and I did not think I was close to menopause as a reason, etc.

    I never suspected that it could be this product as it was organic plant based and contained no calories – healthy.

    As soon as I found your article I knew this product was the problem. Next, I found this article:

    https://clovisnutrition.com/stevia-and-man-boobs/

    According to the above article, stevia glycosides have a dramatic effect on estrogen and progesterone. As a result, the body can suffer from estrogen dominance. One of the main culprits responsible for infertility issues. Estrogen dominance is extremely dangerous in women and can even lead to breast cancer. It can be just as merciless in men and leads to a host of undesirable effects. Lower sex drive, insomnia, and of course, excess body fat. Particularly in the belly and certain areas of the chest.

    Bingo. Apparently, it is stevia glycosides that are the culprit.

    I have quit cold turkey. Never again. It also makes me question the use of any other chemicals and chemical formulations that while touted as organic or natural, are far from their natural state and may be having heinous affects on the body also.

    Reply
    1. slimbirdy Post author

      Hi Kim, thanks for stopping by! My family has a history of estrogen dominant breast cancer – so thanks for that extra information – I’m super totally keeping away now! Cheers Kristy x

      Reply
      1. Kim

        Dear Kristy

        Just to follow-up. It is one month since I quit the product I was taking comprised of a blend of erythritol and steviol glycosides and I have dropped weight significantly from all over my body. I gained weight from taking this product, all without increasing calories! Not only is stevia the culprit, but so is erythritol – many studies have it linked to weight gain all over and especially in the abdominal region.

        To gain weight, all I did was take this product for four months in my water and to sweeten some food like Greek yoghurt, thinking it was low GI and had nil calories. It is incredible it made me fat without increasing calories! And now, removing the product, I am loosing weight, but I am having to work for it to facilitate the weight loss by extra cardio, on top of diet and weight training.

        Forget this artificial stuff. It should be illegal.

        Reply
        1. slimbirdy Post author

          Hi Kim

          Thanks for the update and wonderful that you found your answer! It should be illegal for sure along with a whole pile of other stuff that is really detrimental to our health. How is that that so many people who make these things have no conscience? Thanks again for stopping by and all the best.

          Reply
      2. Janet

        This is very interesting. I wondered if Stevia was the reason I could not lose weight. I truly believe I have my answer. I’m so over it! Thank you!

        Reply
        1. slimbirdy Post author

          Hi Janet, yes it was interesting when I discovered it for myself too! When I was low carbing, stevia was my best friend – until I discovered that it wasn’t and neither was low carb any good for me either. Thanks for reading and glad I could help! Cheers Kristy

          Reply
  5. karen doreen druchok

    I too, have been eating Stevia in my 2 cups of coffee in the morning and also in my yogurt for about a year and wondering why I feel so bloated and my stomach getting larger all the time. I eat a healthy diet, so I will eliminate Stevia and see what happens. Thanks so much for the article. Also, my bra has been very uncomfortable and tight. It’s been a puzzle to me, why I’m gaining weight. Stevia stops today, and I’m hoping for a reduction in my stomach!

    Reply
    1. slimbirdy Post author

      Hey Karen, thanks for stopping by! I find that most of the truth is revealed when everyone shares their experiences, because most of the information we read is from the people selling the product – and they are not likely to tell you the possible downsides. So yes Stevia is definitely one of the culprits with bloating and so is too many green leafy and other vegetables like kale, spinach, cauliflower and broccoli. Turns out humans don’t digest cellulose and when we eat too much it negatively impacts our gut flora and causes all kinds of issues like bloating too. But then everyone pushes us to eat more vegetables under the guise of being ‘healthy.’ It’s really hard to know what to believe any more! Good luck with avoiding stevia and look forward to hearing how it’s going for you. Cheers Kristy

      Reply
  6. Cara

    I agree, the best way to learn about these issues is from the experiences of others! The pattern seems to be that there will always be the “next best thing” that comes out (remember when Splenda was hailed as the savior to anyone trying to lose weight and popped up in EVERYTHING?). Of course it wasn’t natural at all, but before long all the accounts of side effects started coming out and we THEN realized that this stuff was poison! Anyway, thanks for sharing this valuable information. I’m wondering if Monk Fruit would be a good alternative. I would love to hear if you’ve found anything mentioning it.

    Reply
    1. slimbirdy Post author

      Hi Cara, thanks for stopping by! I just had a quick look up about Monk Fruit and unfortunately I think it would have the same negative impacts as stevia. Still highly processed too and perhaps the worst trait of it is the fact that it has no calories. When you taste sweet, your body is expecting nutritious energy from glucose or fructose to feed the cells. When nothing is coming, your body goes into stress mode, activates cortisol and starts to break down your muscles to convert to glucose. So it’s better to eat your whole fruit, honey or sugar, count it in your diet plan and keep your body in happy stress-free mode for optimal health. All the best on your health journey! Cheers Kristy

      Reply
  7. Pingback: My Dear Stevia Letter – Eating Fat is the New Skinny

  8. AJ

    Hi,

    I really am thankful for the article. I found it by googling Stevia and weight gain. Funny thing is I noticed after having gone on vacation for a week in Oahu. I ate normally and came home to have lost 3 lbs. I had started weighing myself before I left because I was going to lose this stomach weight that I had gained that was making me self conscious in my swimsuit. After a few days of getting back I had gained back the 3 lbs and gained 1 more, and I was barely eating anything but salads and lemonade I made with Stevia. It was such a revelation. I knew it was true when I read your article.

    I have been a healthy eater and in shape and active my whole life and never had a belly. Now I do and I think I started to feel signs of hypoglycemia. I’ve been using Stevia for at least a few years. No more. Also, during this time was when we were trying to get pregnant, which didn’t happen. Lots to learn here.

    Thank so much for sharing. It has been a real blessing. I stopped the Stevia 3 days ago and I’ve lost the 4 lbs I gained when I got back. This knowledge changes so much.

    Reply
    1. slimbirdy Post author

      Hi Aurellia, great story and so glad I could help. I think I have personally received the most health benefit by reading about other people’s experiences more so than “experts” who often have a hidden agenda anyway. We’re all helping each other to good health and feeling good. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers Kristy

      Reply
  9. Kim

    I figured out a while ago that Stevia makes me gain weight so I always avoid it. I recently started taking a vitamin supplement powder after reviewing the label and not seeing any Stevia listed. However, after a couple of weeks on the stuff, I put on 5 pounds without changing my diet or exercise. I initially attributed it to getting older and metabolism slowing down until I did a little more research about the product and yep, there’s Stevia in it. So bummed as I really liked that stuff. I stopped taking it three days ago and am starting to see the weight drop back down. I don’t understand why so many websites proclaim the wonder of Stevia.

    Reply
    1. slimbirdy Post author

      Hi Kim. thanks for stopping by and thanks for telling your experience with Stevia. I guess I was one of the ones who thought it was great too until my own experience taught me otherwise. I think we are so brainwashed now by the anti sugar crusade that we believe anything that avoids sugar must be good. But our poor body gets confused. I think too much of the information on it is put out by the companies selling it, so they are not likely to be objective. We have to keep looking after ourselves! Cheers Kristy

      Reply
  10. Lynn

    YES! I agree with you! I began to use it like crazy and am noticing belly fat galore despite trying to exercise and tone. Giving it up!

    Reply
    1. slimbirdy Post author

      Good on you Lynn! Yes no-one seems to discuss the potential downsides of any food and they all have them. Did you know that kale and the cruciferous veges like cauliflower are potential goitrogens and so eating too many of them negatively impact the thyroid? Not so alarming for those of us who may eat a bit of steamed cauliflower like once a week but now they are trying to make whole cakes out of cauliflower and the smoothies with loads of kale, tip many into the not so healthy category. It’s like tiptoeing your way through a mine field.

      Reply
  11. Leonie

    This is really interesting! I have used stevia for about 10yrs & have struggled with weight gain, particularly over the last few years when I have been doing LCHF (low carb, high fat). I haven’t been able to lose any weight(mainly around my middle) & have not been able to work out why! I LOVE my stevia(my family call me the “stevia Queen”!) but will try to get off it after reading all this! I have been putting stevia in all my drinks(including red wine, scotch etc) so this won’t be easy… but if I can lose the weight, I will be thrilled! (I don’t eat ANY sugar….read all the labels etc). So here goes!

    Reply
    1. slimbirdy Post author

      Hey Leonie, thanks for stopping by! I know – I loved stevia too. I thought it was brilliant. I had to unlearn lots I thought was true about health. Another clanger for you too though – LCHF is not all its cracked up to be. I was on LCHF for 10 years and it did lose weight for me but it also slowed down my metabolism and was on the way to trashing my thyroid. I’ve written a few posts about it like this one: http://slimbirdy.com/2017/01/20/the-switch-from-very-low-carbketo-to-pro-metabolic-eating/ – worth considering especially since it seems like its not working for weight loss for you either? Happy to answer questions if you have any. Happy days. Kristy

      Reply
  12. Pingback: Drinking coffee correctly for pro metabolic benefits | Slim birdy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *