Fitness + Health + Wisdom + Wealth

Sweeteners Simplified : Rebecca Washuta


Guest: Rebecca Washuta

Release Date: 5/29/2023

Welcome to Trulyfit the online fitness marketplace connecting pros and clients through unique fitness business software.

Steve Washuta:  You sit down for breakfast and order coffee, the waitress brings over a small porcelain container filled with various blue, white and yellow colored packets, all called sweeteners.

But what are the differences? Are some of these more harmful to they reacted my body the same way that table sugar does. What are some great natural sweeteners that we can substitute into our deserts, coffee and other foods? We discuss all this and more in the upcoming episode.

Welcome to Trulyfit. Welcome to the Trulyfit podcast where we interview experts in fitness and health to expand our wisdom and wealth. I’m your host, Steve Washuta, co-founder of Trulyfit and author of Fitness Business 101.

On today’s episode, I speak with Rebecca Washuta, who is my sister, and she’s also a nutritionist and a dietitian, she’s going to talk to us first about the differences between let’s say a registered dietician, and what she is a certified nutrition specialist and a licensed dietitian, nutritionist, then we go into sweeteners, that’s going to be the lion’s share of our conversation, the different kinds of sweeteners, we break them down into three different categories, or I should say she does.

Some are the new-age sweeteners, some of the old artificial sweeteners and some are old natural sweeteners. So we talked about that. And a host of other things. It was a great conversation, you can find everything about Rebecca @happyhealthynutritionist on Instagram.

With no further ado, here’s Rebecca. And, Rebecca, thank you so much for joining the truly fit podcasts for a third time, I believe one of you gives my listeners and audience who haven’t maybe heard you the first few times a little background on who you are and your credentials and what you do health and fitness and nutrition industry.

Rebecca Washuta: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me. Good to be back. So my name is Rebecca. The last name isn’t a coincidence. Washuta We are related. I’m a licensed dietitian and health coach and I have my own private practice. So I specialize in weight loss and autoimmune conditions, and really just helping people achieve their health and wellness goals.

Steve Washuta:  Okay, I’ve asked you this, I think every single podcast but I think it’s important because most personal trainers don’t know. And certainly, the average person in the general population doesn’t know. What does it take to get your credentials? What is the big difference between you and let’s say a registered dietician, and then let’s say, somebody who just has like a certificate, tell me a little bit about the background of your credentials?

Rebecca Washuta: For sure. And that’s a great question. Most people don’t know the answer to that. I think that’s the million dollar question. Right? You could ask that on a game show. So what it really comes down to is in the United States is the state that you’re practicing in.

Rebecca Washuta: So for example, states, like California, have no regulations around who can call themselves a nutritionist, so you can take one online nutrition course, and you can call yourself a nutritionist and open up a practice and, you know, provide that information in most other states. So New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, you have to be licensed in order to practice in that state.

Rebecca Washuta: And so you have to be board certified state licensed. And so in order to do that, you have to now have your master’s degree, you have to complete an internship, and you have to pass a board exam.

Rebecca Washuta: And so you know, my title is technically called licensed dietitian, nutritionist, which is confusing, right? So I’m a dietician, nutritionist. But you really want to ask when you’re starting to work with someone what those credentials are, because there’s a big difference between doing, you know, a two-hour online program and going to school for two years and getting your degree and taking biochemistry and really understanding, you know, the science behind it and being able to provide medical nutrition therapy, right.

Rebecca Washuta: So there’s a lot of foods that interact with drugs. Grapefruit, for example, right? And so I was working with a client who had a personal trainer, and he was like, oh, you should do grapefruit, it’s great. It’s great for weight loss and all of her medications that she was on counteracted with grapefruit.

Rebecca Washuta: So, you know, there’s a lot of intricacies here. It’s not just about like putting a food plan together a meal plan together. So definitely important to, you know, ask who you’re working with what their background is, and get a full understanding of that.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, good answer. And I’m gonna ask you the toughest question of the mall. We are going to be talking about sweeteners today. But first, we have to get into this. This is a really tough question. I ask everybody who’s in the fitness and health realm that might have asked you that before at some point. I’m ready.

Steve Washuta:  But what do you think about the sort of credentialing process of a nutritionist? What could they do better? Should there just be one? Should there be multiple? Should people who only have a certification be able to give information do you think like, what, what would make the landscape better?

Rebecca Washuta: Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, I was thinking about this recently, because I just completed my continuing education credits. So every two years, in order to renew your licensure, you have to do a certain amount of continuing education. And I felt like, you know, basically, it’s checking a box. So like, I have to go through these papers, I have to take these quizzes, I have to watch his presentations.

Rebecca Washuta: And I learned more in two or three podcasts, right through three of my favorite podcasts that I did and the 35 hours of continuing education that I had to complete. So yeah, there definitely needs to be improvements, but I do think the fact that I am required to Do that continuing education to maintain my license means I care, right means I’m, I’m, you expect that if I’m going to put in that effort, I am staying up to date on the research, you know what I mean? It’s not just a one-time thing.

Rebecca Washuta: So I do think that’s really important. I don’t think there should be one type. So as far as nutrition goes, that you can be a registered dietician. Or you can be a certified nutrition specialist, which is what I am. And both of those allow you to become a licensed dietitian.

Rebecca Washuta: So it’s similar to if you were to get your PhD in psychology or your Psy D, in psychology, you’re still a psychologist, right, or your MD versus your deal. And they have the same thing in dentistry. It’s like a DMG or a DDS.

Rebecca Washuta: So I think having those two boards kind of keeps one another on their toes as far as like, what’s better, and you know, so there’s not a monopoly. So I do appreciate that. And, you know, I think there are millions of people out there who need health coaching, who need you know, fitness advice and nutrition advice. So, I don’t think there should be a monopoly, but I think you need to know who you’re working with, right.

Rebecca Washuta: And, you know, there are people who can help you, maybe, you know, in your instance, help you on your golf swing, that’s great. But if you want someone to really like understand the muscles of your back, and your arms and your legs and go into it, you’re going to pay a little bit more and you want them to have, you know, more experience more of a background, maybe a certification.

Rebecca Washuta: So I think people just need to be educated on the level of practitioner that they’re working with. Are you working with someone who can, you know, in my case, like, provide medical nutrition therapy, who can tell you what to eat if you have chronic kidney disease or congestive heart failure? or COPD, or someone just like putting salads together for you? Because that’s fine, if that’s all you need, but I think you just need to, you need to know what level you want and make sure you’re getting that.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, that’s a great answer. And I think that’s the hardest part, though, right? For the general public is to know the difference like I am a certified weight loss specialist, you know, that took me to do I paid NASM $299. And I took a 10-question quiz, right?

So like, right, like, what is what does that even mean? Right? So if I told the general population, this person right here to my right is a licensed dietician and nutritionist, and I’m a certified weight loss specialist. For all they know, it’s more difficult to become one

Rebecca Washuta: and I’m, I’m a dietician that focuses on weight loss when you’re certified and weight loss of that, right. It’s very,

Steve Washuta:  the terminology is confusing. I don’t have a great answer for this. I’ve waffled back and forth. I’ve been to the point where it’s like, I’m like, let’s just go the Wild Wild West, like libertarian, like you just do whatever you want, like start your businesses, no certifications. And I’m like, well, maybe we should go the other route, and just have like, one overarching thing.

And I can convince myself either way, I think how the best kind of hierarchy that I’ve thought of is that you should still have to work underneath someone unless you have the highest level certification in any one industry, right?

So for example, if I, if I’m a weight loss specialist, which I am, I should still have to somehow work like in a concert or underneath you, who is a, you know, certified nutrition specialist or a registered dietitian, right, where there’s, there’s some kind of hierarchy that somebody has to be able to say, okay,

Steve, I’m taking Steve underneath my wing, and he will take on my easier clients, I’m gonna teach Steve some stuff, and he has to go this route that I can’t just like, because right now, illegally in some states, I am allowed to do the same thing as you.

And there are a lot of people who are personal trainers who are doing the same thing as you, they’re essentially stealing your clients, but they don’t have the knowledge to be doing it, and they probably shouldn’t be doing it.

And it doesn’t behoove, let’s say, the National Academy of Sports Medicine to enforce that, because they get to continue to make these certifications and get more money. Right. So like, their, how much money would it cost for them to enforce it? Right?

Because initially, there was like this sort of like, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, in the personal training community where it’s like, well, yeah, you can give clients information about fitness and health and record their calories and do that stuff.

But like, you shouldn’t really be, like, letting people know that you’re doing that. Right. Yeah. And then it became a point where it’s like, people just started letting everyone know, because the internet age cam, right? Because you just like say, Oh, I’m helping my climate diets.

And then like, there were no repercussions. Like, it wasn’t like, the certifications were like knocking on your door and like revoking your certification, right? They don’t have the money to enforce it.

So I don’t know what a good answer is. I do think, like you said, ultimately, it falls on the general population and the public to do their due diligence. And not only and I’ve talked about this before, podcasts, not only look at someone’s credentials but look at their explanations behind what they’re doing.

If they don’t understand something right away, like, like, be hesitant. Like, if that guy was like, oh, you should like whatever, like eat this grapefruit and do this and do that.

And they asked you why. And you’re like, Yeah, I don’t know. It’s like, okay, well, then there’s a problem here, right. So like the professional should always be able to respond in a scientific manner that makes sense to you before you proceed with using them.

Rebecca Washuta: Agree. Yeah, I think it’s important to define your scope and practice within your scope, right, there’s, there’s no listen, I certainly give suggestions as far as exercise to my clients, you know, hey, why don’t you try yoga? Maybe you can try, you know, running Have you tried behind them to exercise?

Rebecca Washuta: But I know where that ends, you know if they ask a very specific question, I say, Listen, this is not my area of expertise. So, you know, I think understanding where to draw the line is important too.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, totally. Okay, well, we could probably touch on that topic forever in a whole other podcast go back and forth, and we never have the solution. So let’s, let’s move on here to what will be the lion’s share of this conversation and that is sweeteners. That is sort of a suitcase term, right? So like, what is what is even as sweetener considered, we can go into that.

But first, when a client comes to you, let’s just give you an actionable thing that goes on a client comes to you and they start talking about sweeteners. What is one major misconception, or misinterpretation or question they asked you all the time about sweeteners?

Rebecca Washuta: You know, I think people are confused about what falls into which bucket. So so there are technically three buckets. The first bucket are traditional sweeteners, right, so that’s going to be cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, and agave. And the second bucket are the more natural sweeteners, right? So stevia, sugar alcohols, monkfruit.

Rebecca Washuta: And then there are the old school chemical sweeteners, like aspartame and you know, Sweet and Low and all those things that our parents used to use to put in their coffee. So people don’t know where things fall and don’t know what they mean.

Rebecca Washuta: And I understand that. So I think really breaking it down into those three buckets allows people to sort of wrap their brains around it. Because generally speaking, those three buckets have things in common, you know, so you can decide which sweetener is best for you.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, that’s a great way to define those three, because typically, if you were to just say sweeteners to me, I would never think of natural like, my mind would go to like, xylitol and saccharin and aspartame, right? It’s not going to like I don’t think is honey as a sweetener. I think of it as like natural sugar. I would just I wouldn’t use that term, but it is right. So like, it’s good to break it down into three buckets.

We have the natural sweeteners, we have sort of the New Age sweeteners. And then we have the old school sweeteners with like your Sacher and your spark team and things. So that’s a good way to differentiate them. Well, let’s start talking about some of them. Now, I know that obviously, you said the new-age sweeteners are better than the old-day sweeteners.

Are there any? I know there were studies in the past showing that like saccharin, and all of these like aspartame were like cancer causing but they’re still in things like diet coke and everything else. Right. So like, what is yours? What is your knowledge of these? What is it like your experience with clients using these? And do you? Do you tell people to stay away from them at all costs?

Rebecca Washuta: Oh, my gosh, please avoid them at all costs. Like I don’t have a lot of foods that I have a big no to, you know that I say absolutely no way. Absolutely no way. So you want to run for the hills when you see these. And there have been so many studies out that say they just destroy your gut microbiome, right.

Rebecca Washuta: And now we have all this research that the gut microbiome isn’t just responsible for your GI health, it’s responsible for your overall health, right? It plays a big role in your immune system, your digestive system, you know, in everything, even in your mental health.

Rebecca Washuta: So there have been so many studies when linking those types of sweeteners to cancer, usually of the digestive system, so colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, there’s also been studies that talk about how it can negatively impact your mental health.

Rebecca Washuta: Those types of sweeteners are highly associated with depression. So, you know, we really, we really want to avoid those. And there are so many better options out there now that I don’t think there’s a reason why why you’d have to do that. And you know, just like, I guess my overall framework when it comes to these types of things is the goal isn’t to replace a Coke with a Diet Coke.

Rebecca Washuta: The goal is that you want to move away from sweeteners period, right? You want to desensitize your tongue in your brain from that reward pathway and craving sweeteners, because what they found is, you know, so you have a Diet Coke with lunch and you’re proud of yourself, right, you didn’t have the calories, that’s going to trigger your reward system in your brain, and you’re going to crave more sugar that afternoon.

Rebecca Washuta: So that afternoon, you walk into the break room, there’s a plate of cookies out, and you’re going to eat the cookies. So at the end of the day, like for that meal, you’re saving calories, but at the end of the day, you’re not saving any calories because it’s going to cause you to crave more sweet foods later, you’re going to think it’s a treat, and you can do it. And so as far as weight gain goes, they’re not helpful.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, and I think even just keeping that upfront and consciousness knowing that a lot people don’t know that, but if they hear this, they know that we’re like, if you’re somebody who just says hey, listen, I get what you’re saying, but I’m not going to give up having a Diet Coke here and there because I just absolutely love it. It’s a treat for me.

So once a month I’m gonna go out to eat I’m gonna order one Diet Coke, but to keep it up front and conscious and say This time Coke is likely going to make me want another Diet Coke tomorrow or make me want to eat something else sweet later just keeping that over unconsciousness so that you know when it does happen when you do get that sort of signal to your brain you go nope, no, I had the Diet Coke earlier.

Don’t listen, don’t listen body, it’s telling me to do the wrong things here. That was it. And I’m okay with that. And I think most people don’t know that right? So they’re just they’re following blindly what their body is telling them

Rebecca Washuta: for sure or 100% treat it as a treat. You know? So the Diet Coke. A lot of people say oh, it is zero calories. It’s a freebie you know? And if you’ve ever been on Weight Watchers, anything with zero calories, and zero points you can have as much as you want which is nonsense, right so like you shouldn’t be having them often it should be something that you regard is sort of junk food and you should for sure limit it

Steve Washuta:  Obviously there are points in which we do want to treat and maybe some people take your advice and they do run for the hills and they go I’m not going to have this diet coke but I want something similar I know that I’ve had like let’s say like almost like kombucha colas, you know, like probiotic drinks that don’t have really any nonsense in them that have a cola flavor now, yeah.

Does it taste exactly like Diet Coke? No. But you’re getting some of that Coke syrupy kind of flavors that still will create like, like cause that craving to not exist anymore. And like anything else, it’s an acquired taste. You get used to these drinks, and it becomes a little bit easier over time to not crave Diet Coke because you have a replacement for it.

Rebecca Washuta: For sure. I mean, you know, as a personal anecdote, I drink a lot of soda growing up, like we have a lot of soda in our house, right? It was just it was the 90s and early 2000s. And so I mean, that was all the way through college. And you know, what I found was a good replacement is a sparkling water because more than the syrup, it’s the bubbles.

Rebecca Washuta: I love the mouthfeel of the bubbles like I love a glass of champagne. I love sparkling water. So finding any suitable replacement. Kombucha is great. You know, there are a lot of low-calorie or zero-calorie sodas out now that have some prebiotic fiber in it. So there’s a lot of healthy options out there. People just need to want to change.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, I actually just did a podcast my Thursday podcast where it’s just me talking about something and fitness and health and part of the podcast was like I had a few listener questions write in like, Hey, Steve, what are the protein bars that you eat?

Steve Washuta:  And what are some of the drinks that you have that are healthy outside of water and one of them I named was Spindrift and the reason why it was Spindrift, it’s actually because you know, when you and I had talked, I had always known that there’s something going on when I trust my instincts.

Steve Washuta:  When you drink a Lacroix and it has the quote-unquote natural flavors. It tastes like hairspray and you’re like how does something tastes so sweet. That apparently doesn’t have any fake sweeteners in it and doesn’t have any real sugar in it. So I stick to the spindrift, which has somewhere between four and 14 calories dependent upon each one.

But those calories are coming purely from the puree of the fruit that they’re using inside of the drink. And it’s just carbonated water and fruit and it craves all of my sweetness and carbonation like you no wants and needs for that time.

Rebecca Washuta: For sure. Yes, spindrift is definitely one of my favorites. And like you said, with the Lacroix and the other types of sparkling waters, the natural flavors are designed by PhDs in a lab to taste that way and to make you crave more.

Rebecca Washuta: So they’re gonna make you crave those types of foods and activate again, the reward pathways in your brain that are activated when you taste something sweet. And it’s gonna start a cycle right that that we want to move away from so You’re so much better off having 15 calories and enjoying a spindrift.

Steve Washuta:  But it is weird, right chemically how they somehow maybe it is the chemical composition, how they somehow circumvented the process of being called a sweetener, right? And let’s correct me if I’m wrong, right. So these natural flavors are not considered like a sparring team. Yet, they’re doing the same thing in my brain, essentially, right? They’re making something tastes sweet that I want.

Rebecca Washuta: Well, so you may describe it as sweet. But I think so, you know, technically it’s not sweet. Like there are certain taste buds right on your tongue that can detect sweet can detect savory can detect different flavors. And so it’s flavored, but it’s not activating the, you know, your nervous system and those specific taste buds in the same way that stevia water monkfruit Would you know, so it’s, I mean, they’re complex.

Rebecca Washuta: That’s why they just, that’s why they’re able to just put them under this umbrella called natural flavors, and they don’t have to tell you anything about it. But I mean, people who have their PhDs do years and years worth of work to do this, like it’s not an accident. It’s not an accident that you find that it tastes great, you know? Okay.

Steve Washuta:  So as we talked before, and we entered in three different categories talking about sweeteners, we have the more natural sweeteners like maple syrup, and honey, which I didn’t even consider sweeteners. I’m glad we talked about that.

Steve Washuta:  And then we had the old school sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin And then we have more of the new school sweeteners that people use, like Splenda and monk fruit. Can you tell me a little bit about splendid monk fruit? Do you recommend some over the others? Are they in products that we might use on a daily basis that we don’t even know about?

Rebecca Washuta: Yeah, so I would say in that category, like the New Age, sweeteners, monk fruit, stevia, and then sugar alcohols all sort of fall into that group so we can talk about all of them. monk fruit I like because it comes from fruit, right? It comes from monk fruit. It and because of that it has phytonutrients in it, that provide antioxidants to your body.

Rebecca Washuta: So that that’s always a plus, it’s always a benefit. monk fruit has calories, which is great. And it also comes in a syrup. So it’s really easy to find at the store in like a syrup. So that’s great for you know, cocktails, or mocktails or coffee, as opposed to doing actual simple syrup on the stove. What I don’t like about monk fruit is honestly just the taste.

Rebecca Washuta: So I don’t know if you’ve ever tasted monk fruit, but it has this sort of, for me it has this weird aftertaste. So I think a lot of people, I think people are polarized about it. Some people don’t mind it, and some people really don’t like it. Have you tried monk fruit-sweetened things before?

Steve Washuta:  It’s been a long time. Not in the liquid version, just in you know, the sugar version that used to come in orange packs and all these places, excuse me, all these items try to like secure color associated with it, which is interesting from a marketing perspective, right?

Like, like, obviously, all the Splenda stuff was yellow, then all the stevia stuff was like green and white, and then all the stuff was orange. So it’s been a while, but I don’t recall me loving it either. I think that’s probably the reason why I don’t use it anymore.

Rebecca Washuta: Yeah. So you know, some people don’t mind it. Like my husband, Nick actually really likes it. He didn’t he can’t tell the difference. And so if you don’t mind the taste 100% That’s what I’d recommend. Stevia is interesting because what we call stevia is actually is not it’s not the plant, right? It’s not like they take the leaves from the plant and they grind it up.

Rebecca Washuta: And that’s what’s in your little packet. It’s a derivative of that. It’s a chemical derivative. Because what’s interesting is the FDA does not actual actually consider the stevia plant to be safe. So they you’re not, you know, it’s not recognized as safe. It’s not an actual product. So it’s this derivative of the stevia plant. And so because of that, there have been studies that say that stevia can cause some GI upset.

Rebecca Washuta: It’s not in everybody, but certainly something to pay attention to. So again, this is another natural zero-calorie sweetener. I think stevia has an aftertaste to I think it’s different than the monkfruit taste. Stevia to me tastes almost like licorice has a licorice aftertaste. And, you know, if you’re someone who has a history of GI issues, just you know, be really mindful about it.

Steve Washuta:  What is the difference between that new age?

Rebecca Washuta: in that category, the natural sweeteners are sugar alcohols. And that’s what we’re seeing a lot of. So basically, anything that ends in Oh, well, is a sugar, alcohol, xylitol, or sorbitol, is tall. And these are interesting because they’re not necessarily zero calories, they’re low calorie, but they’re not zero calories.

Rebecca Washuta: And the length of the name is misleading because there’s no alcohol involved. It’s basically a carbohydrate that can’t be fully digested. So think of it almost like fiber, so it can’t be fully digested. And for that reason, and you know, it’s not going to get into your bloodstream and spike your blood sugar. However, even more so than Splenda, the sugar alcohols can really cause GI issues because like it’s it can irritate the lining of your gut because it can’t be digested.

Rebecca Washuta: So anyone with a history of like IBS, or Crohn’s disease, or you know, anything like that ulcerative colitis, usually don’t do well with sugar alcohols, and they have kept a safe limit on it at 10 to 15 grams per day, milligrams per day. So just something to be aware of, I think that’s, that’s what I’m seeing most in a lot of protein bars now and different protein powders.

Rebecca Washuta: And I actually like the taste of these the most so the protein bars that I love right now have sugar alcohols, I don’t have a history of digestive issues, so it hasn’t bothered me. And I don’t there’s no aftertaste there. So I think they’re they’re definitely you know, a player even though they have some calories in them.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, and although we’re in the same family, we have a lot of the same genes I do have a problem with them. So Quest bars which I love I love the taste of a from a caloric value to protein ratio to quality of the product A Quest bar is one of the better protein bars you can get but for me,

Steve Washuta:  unfortunately, because of maybe it’s the combination of the fiber and the sugar alcohols maybe it’s just the fiber maybe it’s just sugar alcohol, I don’t know because you can’t have one without the other the Quest bars are loaded with fiber and with the sugar alcohols, but they just don’t sit well with me and it’s not like I get, you know, full disclosure, I don’t get like diarrhea. I just get like an upset stomach. Like I feel it feels like there’s a brick in my stomach or

Rebecca Washuta: it can cause my stomach feels odd because of gas and so they’re not for you. It’s good to be mindful and pay attention to your body and recognize, okay, like, this isn’t the right sweetener for me.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, the, I don’t wanna get too off track here. But in case you know anything about this, the one protein bar that I really like, has palm oil in it. I get this on a sweetener, that’s an oil. But is that a bad oil you against palm oil? Is that? Is that also just a suitcase term? Or is that actually just an a specific oil? No,

Rebecca Washuta: no, no, that’s a specific oil. I think nutritionally palm oil is fine. Like it’s not one of the best I put it in the middle, right? It’s not olive oil. But I think the biggest you know why, why you may think palm oil is controversial is environmentally speaking, it’s not great, because they’re cutting down all of these palm trees in, you know, some Asian countries and it’s deforestation and things like that in order to make the palm oil.

Rebecca Washuta: So I think any pushback you hear about palm oil is more from an environmental perspective. Rather than a nutritional perspective. As far as it goes, like health-wise, I, you know, I put it as like a middle-of-the-road oil.

Steve Washuta:  Interesting. Yeah. So the Power Crunch bars are the bars that eat the most they taste like go. Remember those like vanilla or chocolate wafers. We used to eat as a kid. Yeah, no, I’m not talking about like, vanilla cookies. I’m talking about the wafer. Yeah, airy, same exact texture. Right. So good. Yeah, that’s what the Power Crunch bars have.

Steve Washuta:  They’re, they’re made with palm oil. And they’re made with whey protein, which does not affect me, right. I’m not telling everyone that they should, they should have that because it affects other people. But I’ve been having whey protein for 15 years. So maybe it affected me at some point, but my body has now gotten used to it.

Steve Washuta:  So it’s got about 12 of all the macronutrients 12 grams of fat 12 carbohydrates, 12 grams of protein, which is another whole story because not that I want to I don’t want to diverge too much here, and to start talking about protein bars, maybe that’d be a whole nother whole conversation.

But people talking about protein bars. Sometimes it’s like, they they’re like, Oh, I’m eating this nut butter bar. I’m like, well, that has seven grams of protein like that’s not a protein bar.

Rebecca Washuta: five grams, and they call themselves a protein bar like this is not a protein bar.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah. Yeah, it’s not a protein bar when like. Less than a third of the caloric value is coming from protein. you know? So that’s, it’s interesting, what is considered a protein bar and what’s not. But I would, you know, now that we’re on the sweetener topic. I would, you know, I would tell people that they should look at the back of their protein bar and make sure that they’re looking at the ingredients like the sweeteners.

And that’ll give you a good idea if maybe one of these sweeteners. It is affecting you in a negative or a positive way. Because it could help you either way. if there’s a sweetener in there, like we just talked about, like the sugar alcohols, and you have no problem with Quest bars. Well, maybe that’s the route you should go when you’re using these quote-unquote, sweeteners that you’re not worried about. And vice Yeah,

Rebecca Washuta: for sure. And I think when you look at the nutrition label, look at where the sweetener is placed, right? Sometimes you look at a bar, and it’ll say, brown rice syrup is the number one ingredient ingredient. So that’s not what you want, if you you know if it’s sugar. alcohol, but it’s one of the last ingredients, that means it’s one of the least ingredients in the bar.

Rebecca Washuta: And so that’s okay. but you want to make sure anything that’s questionable is very far down on the ingredient list and is not, you know, what’s making up the majority of the bar.

Steve Washuta:  Now, if all of these ingredients went away tomorrow, let’s say they were banned, or they were never created, we lived in an alternate universe. And all that existed was the natural ones, honey, maple, Sierra, and the rest that we named,

I know that you would be fine. But convince listeners how they can use these in instances where they’re otherwise using things like a withdrawal and Sacra and how do we think about using these? What is the alternatives? What are the brands? Tell me a little bit about these? Yeah, you

Rebecca Washuta: know, and, you know, Nutrition has to be personalized. But generally speaking, I would recommend a little of the traditional sweetener over anything else we’ve talked about today. and I’ll tell you why. The idea is to move away from getting your tongue and your brain to crave all of these sweet foods. right like we talked about.

Rebecca Washuta: So if you’re having a little bit of honey versus three packets of Splenda. Those three packets of Splenda are going to make you crave more sugar later on. And then this afternoon, you’re going to want a brownie or a doughnut or a chocolate bar. Whereas if you’re just having a little bit of honey. Very slowly your brain is going to be activated. by just smaller amounts of sweetness.

Rebecca Washuta: And that’s, that’s ultimately that’s the end game that we want. Okay, so let’s talk about like, generally speaking, we’ll talk about the worst one cane sugar. So cane sugar is just to white people’s sugar that’s 50% glucose and 50% fructose.

Rebecca Washuta: And so generally when we’re looking at these other sweeteners. there are two things we want to keep in mind. One is, how much fructose do they have? And two is how are they affecting our blood sugar, right, what’s their glycemic index or their glycemic load.

Rebecca Washuta: And so the fructose component is really important. Because fructose is broken down differently in our bodies than glucose. So fructose is primarily metabolized by the liver, and it’s actually really taxing on the liver.

Rebecca Washuta: So you know, we’re seeing these kids now who are living on sodas and fruit juices. And all of these high fructose corn syrup that are coming in with what’s called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Rebecca Washuta: So their livers look like you know, a 60-year-old alcoholic. Because the fructose is causing so much damage to their liver, you know, in their children who actually need like liver transplants, it’s crazy.

Rebecca Washuta: So we really want to move away from fructose. So table sugar has 50% glucose 50% fructose. then if we look at something like coconut sugar, coconut sugar is going to have less fructose, maybe 40% fructose. And it’s also going to have some additional minerals in it and their trace minerals.

Rebecca Washuta: So it’s not a lot. It’s not like you’re taking a multivitamin, but because it has some trace minerals in it. That’s going to slow down the absorption. And it’s also not going to spike your blood sugar in the same way as a teaspoon of plain white sugar. So that’s so that you know. As far as sugars go. you know, if you’re baking or you really need it, coconut sugar is what I’d recommend.

Rebecca Washuta: And then when we get into honey and maple syrup. Honey technically has more calories than maple syrup slightly more. you know, I would say 1010 10% more calories, but it also has a lot of these other really beneficial properties. So it’s good to have some B vitamins and C vitamins it’s also going to have minerals. And it’s been shown to have some antiviral and antibacterial properties which is pretty cool.

Rebecca Washuta: And so maple syrup is probably out of everything we discussed Maple syrup is probably the best. It has the least amount of fructose that has between 20 and 30% fructose, and it’s gonna have the lowest calories and it’s going to also be absorbed more slowly so so the GI that glycemic index is lower and it’s not going to spike your blood sugar which you know when you have high blood sugar, your pancreas releases insulin and that’s ultimately what leads to weight gain.

Rebecca Washuta: So maple syrups I think is the best bet. Because it does have also has some of those trace minerals in it similar to honey. it’s lower in calories and it’s lower as far as the glycemic index goes.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, I know a lot of people use let’s say maple syrup and certain baking-related aspects. Obviously, you can use honey in drinks, right? Whether you’re using your tea, I don’t necessarily know of honey and coffee as a great combo. but certainly honey and like even like a cold drink to like having like unsweetened iced tea and putting money in it right.

There are so many different ways. In which you can use honey in your drinks. And then maple syrup for your food. whether it’s your baking, or otherwise, I like coconut sugar. I’m not sure if I’ve ever really had coconut sugar. But I’m sure they sell it next to all the other sugars in the.

Rebecca Washuta: Yeah, and it’s similar. It looks like brown sugar, and it doesn’t have a coconut taste, you know. Because they it’s you’re just left with the sugar after they process it. So but yeah, I think you know, again, it has to be personalized if you are overweight and you’re trying to lose weigh. than the zero calories knew which sweeteners are better for you.

Rebecca Washuta: If you’re someone who you know is trying to maintain weight. You know, it’s not super focused on losing weight. I definitely recommend the traditional sweeteners but using them in small amounts.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, I mean, everything is small amounts, right? Like you said if it if it has to be a crutch, and every meal you’re looking to replace something with a sweetener of some sort. whether it’s in category one, two, or three that we named, that’s not good either.

I think there needs to there’s a there’s there’s something to be said about having some food that’s a little bit plainer. And not always telling your body that yes, you can have this sweet you can have this sweet.

And also, I’m not sure if we mentioned this already, but one of the reasons. why something like stevia or Splenda or whatever is is sending the signals because it’s actually like I don’t know 100 to 300 times sweeter than regular, right? Fructose has glucose sugar, right? So

Rebecca Washuta: Right, exactly. It’s really messing with your reward pathways and it’s only going to cause you to crave more sugar. And I don’t know Steve. if you’ve ever taken a break from it Coffee or alcohol or sugar. you know, for an extended period of time. If you take a break from these things. that are constantly activating your reward pathway. it sort of resets. And you don’t crave it in the same way.

Rebecca Washuta: And so if you give your body a break, you won’t crave it. So you’re not depriving yourself forever. And that’s what I try to tell people. But the more you have these very, very sweet sweeteners. The more you’re going to crave more sugar, and it’s just going to be an endless cycle.

Steve Washuta:  And I’m not a registered dietician or certified nutrition specialist, but general advice I would give people, if let’s say, even myself, this is something that I have done. I always was craving something sweet at night, you know. like maybe it was that I was having a few glasses of wine for like, a few days in a row.

So then my body at 6pm was like saying, okay, Steven, eat something sweet. And then maybe I moved from that to, I don’t know, a bowl of cereal that had like a sweeter cereal. and then I moved from that to like, some sort of Nashville bar, you can move your way down to, that doesn’t have to be very sweet.

Yeah, and then it’s a little sweet. And then before you know it. Maybe you’re just having like a little bit of honey on top of like, blueberries or something. And then you’re having nothing or then you’re just having blueberries, right? You can work your way down slowly from the sweetest thing that’s not that great for you. to something that is more healthy. and a little bit less sweet, rather than just pulling it from your diet.

Rebecca Washuta: Yeah, 100%, I think, you know, a lot of people are under the impression that it has to be all or nothing. right? It’s January 1, I’m going to clean up my act. I’m gonna go on a diet and I’m going to do a 180. And that doesn’t work. When it comes to lifestyle change, it has to be that stepwise pattern that you talked about. It has to be okay, this week, I’ll cut back in this way.

Rebecca Washuta: Next week, I’ll come back two days a week or, you know. whatever works for you and your routine, but it’s a marathon. Not a sprint. So you have to think about it that way and work on creating long-term habits. Rather than just cutting something out. You know, altogether.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, what about let’s talk specifically like coffee and tea? I know you drink coffee and tea? What do you put it in your specific or? And if you don’t put anything in yours? What are maybe you recommend for your clients as far as either taste or health is concerned?

Rebecca Washuta: Yeah, for sure. So I have had clients that put honey in coffee but you’re right, I think I mean, honey, this is tea. You know, they’re a pair for a reason. I don’t use any sweetener in my, in my coffee in the morning. And part of it is taste preference. So I just use half and half or heavy cream. But the other aspect of that is, caffeine is already going to elevate your blood sugar.

Rebecca Washuta: So then if you put sugar in top of on top of that drink. It’s really going to spike your blood sugar. So I advise my clients to add fat. So whether it’s you know, half and half heavy cream. If you want to do the bulletproof idea and put some butter in there, coconut oil, coconut milk, but the fat will slow down the absorption of the caffeine. So it won’t leave you feeling jittery, and it also won’t spike your blood sugar in the same way.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, that’s a good idea. I know that the bulletproof stuff was all the rage for a while and at least in the health community. I don’t think it ever really got passed down to, to the general population. But anecdotally, I can certainly tell a difference. meaning I feel as if when I put fats in my coffee, whether it’s with the cream. Or whether it’s actually using coconut oil or like MCT oil, which I was using for a while that my caffeine High was different.

Yeah, it wasn’t this quick burst. where you just feel this quick burst of energy for an hour or two, and then it went down. It was a slower burn if that makes sense. It felt like the caffeine lasted longer and didn’t hit as hard which is normally more beneficial.

Rebecca Washuta: Yeah, which is absolutely what you want. And I think you know, in this similar to putting sweetener in your coffee or tea. A lot of people like to have a dessert, right. So you want to have a little piece of coffee cake. Or you want to have the donut or whatever with the coffee.

Rebecca Washuta: And that’s not a good idea either. If you’re going to have a doughnut, don’t have it with coffee or tea because again. The caffeine is going to spike your blood sugar and then if you’re also eating something sweet, your blood sugar is going to go through the roof so try not to have those two together.

Steve Washuta:  Yeah, I feel like a doughnut in a minute. We’re going off topic a little bit but I feel like I don’t know the morning. It is just like why would you want to have a doughnut?

Rebecca Washuta: It’s like oh an afternoon treat I’m gonna sit down for tea and cookies or coffee. Snd you know you go to Starbucks and what do they have in the window? It’s like muffins and things and you know

Steve Washuta:  now have some protein in the morning. Yes protein well back at this has been fantastic. Thank you for giving us the forum one here on sweeteners. Let everyone know again where they can find you. Whether it’s on Instagram where they can reach out to you directly.

Rebecca Washuta: Yeah, absolutely. So my Instagram handle is @happyhealthynutritionists. My website is You can find me there and check out my programs and some of my free guides and Ebooks.

Steve Washuta:  Also, my guest today has been Rebecca Washuta. Thank you so much for joining the trooper podcast.

Rebecca Washuta: Take care.

Steve Washuta: Thanks for joining us on the Trulyfit podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review on your listening platform. Feel free to email us as we’d love to hear from you.

Thanks again!




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