• Welcome to the DeeperBlue.com Forums, the largest online community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing. To gain full access to the DeeperBlue.com Forums you must register for a free account. As a registered member you will be able to:

    • Join over 44,280+ fellow diving enthusiasts from around the world on this forum
    • Participate in and browse from over 516,210+ posts.
    • Communicate privately with other divers from around the world.
    • Post your own photos or view from 7,441+ user submitted images.
    • All this and much more...

    You can gain access to all this absolutely free when you register for an account, so sign up today!

Artificial sweeteners and Freediving

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.


Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2004
Hi Crew,

I've been looking at a number of threads recommending the removal/reduction of simple sugars from the freedivers diet and it begs the question......what's the impact of using artificial sweetners on apnea training & performances? The ones I know of are:
- Aspartame
- Saccharin
- Acesulfame
- Sucralose
- Stevia

I don't actually agree with removing sugar from a freediver diet, but anyway, most artificial sweeteners are horrendously bad for you. I've done quite a bit of research, and I've also experimented on myself.

From what I've learned (and experienced), aspartame is BY FAR the worst, followed by acesulfame potassium. Sucralose is the best of the artificial sweeteners, but it is still bad for you. Stevia is a herb, which is often promoted as harmless, but I feel weird when I take lots of it, so I would still minimize intake of it.

There are also sugar alcohols:
- Erythritol
- Maltitol
- Sorbitol
- Xylitol


They are produced naturally in your body, so your body knows how to detoxify them. When eaten, they are generally not absorbed, but because of this they can cause gas/diarrhea/indigestion. Erythritol and xylitol are the most favourable of them.

The best sweetener is organic agave nectar. Is is a syrup from a cactus. It has a glycemic index of 7, in other words, less than a vegetable! No effect on blood sugar, yet it is still sugar, in the general sense. Fructose is a common 'sugar' which also has a relatively low glycemic index of around 30.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

Thanks for the response, can I ask what you mean by "bad for you"? Are you suggesting they are bad for your health, bad for your apnea or both?


Interesting thread Andy.

Is the glycemic index set by the insulin reaction to the sugar or by something else?

I'de be happy if someone can direct me to a good source on the net that shows glycemic index of foods/sugars, along with some explenations...

Does anybody knows if researchers are working on synthesizing the opposite symmetry versions of sugar molecules (L or D version?) and if they have such a thing on the market?
I use only Caribbean Gold Raw demerara Sugar, how does that stack up against the stuff mentioned above Eric?

The Glycemic Index indicates the relative change in blood-sugar levels of a food after its ingestion. These are generally compared on a scale with white-bread as 100, or with glucose at 100 (conversion factor is 1.4). Of course the more significant the blood-sugar spike, the more likely an over-compensation in insulin response.

The most current index I could find on the GI lists are at:


Hope that helps!
  • Like
Reactions: DeepThought
'Bad for you' = bad for your health, and anything which is bad for your health is automatically bad for your performance.

Aspartame has also been known to induce epileptic seizures. Probably because it is phenylalanine bound to methanol. Phenylalanine is a weird amino acid which causes aggression and can, in rare cases, cause convulsions or higher susceptibility to convulsions. Methanol is race car fuel (methyl alcohol), the stuff that makes you go blind. The sale of phenylalanine is prohibited for human consumption, the sale of methanol (for human consumption) is prohibited, but the sale of their combination (aspartame) is not prohibited.

I can't confirm any pro-convulsant effects of the other artificial sweeteners. I do know that I get a headache from aspartame and acesulfame potassium, and a 'woozy' head feeling from sucralose and stevia.

I once bought a protein powder which listed fructose as the only sweetener. After eating it, I felt a headache. It felt like the headache I get from either aspartame or acesulfame potassium. However, aspartame has a very specific taste, and the protein powder did not taste like aspartame--implying it contained acesulfame potassium, even though it was not listed on the ingredients. I called the company and after a huge argument they FINALLY admitted that the product DID INDEED contain acesulfame potassium even though it wasn't on the label. They offered to exchange the product.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

posted 05-12-2004 03:36 PM
I know it's quite popular - and who knows, sometimes quite true given some of current Bush debacles - to cite government conspiracies, corporate lobbying, etc. to backup arguments on the lack of safety of many food products. But I keep hoping someone will take a step back and not resort to such cliched arguments. As someone who has had a some experience with both the food industry and the FDA, let me point out a couple of things.

First, companies don't lobby government agencies. Lobbying is a formal process by which groups can influence the legislature. The FDA is in the executive branch of the government and has nothing to gain or lose by changing policy for someone like Monsanto. The FDA's mandate is sent down from the Sec. of HHS and ultimately the president, if he chooses to become involved. There is no motivation for the FDA to maliciously undermine public health efforts and allow products that are harmful onto the market - in fact it's quite the opposite. The public nature of the process prevents such egregious acts from occurring for the most part. Certainly for something that has gone on for as long as the use of aspartame has. Which leads me to another important point: that the amount of documented, scientific, rigorous testing that food additives go through is very extensive and more importantly - expensive. Aspartame took 20-30 yrs. to make it to market after it was synthesized in the 1950s. Why would any company in their right mind invest such capital for a wildly unknown ROI unless it was a slam dunk? Lastly, some of the negative examples of things like Ephedra and saccharine are much longer stories that are hard to cover here. Ephedra was something the FDA faught hard against ever since the DSHEA act was passed. Congress lowered the standards for dietary supplements and hindered the FDA's ability to enforce their mission to protect the public's health. DSHEA was a poorly thought out law (unlike some opponents, i acknowledge that it had good intentions) and allowed such untested and dangerous products as ephedra to come in alongside Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng. Saccharine's approval was the result of another special act of Congress to override the Delaney clause of the Food Additives ammendment to the FD&C. This happened because of - yes - successful lobbying. However, the FDA once again was set to enforce their policy protecting the public helath until congress stepped in.

Government agencies are hugely unwieldy beareaucracies that obviously often run slowly and inefficiently. But the EPA, HUD, FDA, and all the rest are good organizaitons that are indeed doing important and powerful work to protect, educate, and improve the lives of all of us. That may have gotten a little corny there - but look into some of these issues yourself. But please, use reputable sources (newspapers, books, and government reports) and not hearsay from internet forums and random websites.
How about personal experience? How can a product which instantly gives you a headache every time you eat it be safe? Especially if you didn't even know it was in the product (no placebo effect)?

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Think about it this way - if I were to tell you that I had a Diet Coke at lunch and feel great now, in fact, better than before lunch, would you accept that as "proof" that aspartame makes you feel great? Of course not - and I would never pose that as evidence.

I'm sorry you have to have certain foods removed from your diet to maintain your own health and well-being. But I can't accept your anecdotes as a guide to my own life, and I would hope that the other lurkers and posters on this forum don't either.

I'm not suggesting that you use my experience to guide your life. I'm suggesting that I use my own experience to guide my own life. When you tell me people to use good judgement by heavily researching a topic via books & the net & research articles, I simply say that my own experience over-rides anything I read. I don't care if every article I read says something is safe, if it makes me feel like crap every time I eat it.

Likewise, one of the most healthy foods I can eat are apricot kernels, peach kernels, citrus seeds, and so on. These are all 'poisonous foods' whose sale as anything except for spice purposes is banned. But, I feel awesome after I eat them and they help fight colds and so on. Cyanide isn't as bad as they say it is.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
When it comes to proving things, I would like to remind people of an old argument.

Imagine a person says:

"All crows are black."

The argument may be that every crow the person has ever seen is black. This doesn't prove anything. All it takes is one white crow, and the statement is proven false.

Likewise, someone may make a statement:

"It is impossible for a human to fly like superman."

The above statement can never be proven to be true. However it can easily be proven false, if even a single human manages to fly like superman.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Actually, you did suggest using your experience to guide our lives. You said "but anyway, most artificial sweeteners are horrendously bad for you." and went on to say that aspartame is the worst. Even if I read that as the royal "you", you are implying some sort of wisdom as to what others should eat. The fact is that for every one of you, there are a million people who report no effect from aspartame, and this why it was approved as a food additive. The benefits from allowing a large number of people - people who want to eat the foods they want to eat - to consume less sugar has been deemed to be more beneficial than any unclear negative effects. Enjoy your apricot seeds, and please refrain from saying that aspartame is "bad for you."

Remember that your adage works both ways. I can prove your statement that aspartame is bad for you is false by finding millions of people, not just one, who lost weight as part of a well-balanced diet and exercise program that they were able to remain on as a lifestyle b/c they didn't have to give up sweet-tasting foods that they enjoy. As a result, they saved themselves from heart disease and other obesity-related diseases.

You can never prove that aspartame is good for you. It doesn't matter if you found 10 million people who lost weight as a result of it, and 'avoided' obesity related diseases. If you use this argument, then Ephedra is also good for you, because thousands, if not millions of people, have lost A LOT of weight because they took Ephedra, and thus they avoided obesity related diseases etc...

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
By my measure, weighing millions who lost weight to hundreds with headaches proves that it CAN be good for you, not that it is. Remember, I was disproving your statement that aspartame is bad for you, not trying to prove it was good for you! You're arguing yourself into circles!

Ephedra had acute, measurable, lethal effects and cannot rationally be used in comparison to aspartame.

Let's call a truce here - I only wanted to inject another point of view in case someone comes across this forum and swallows your recommendation without rebuttal (b/c i thought it deserved rebuttal). i personally choose sugar over artificial sweeteners and try to maintain an overall healthy and well-balanced diet with exercise. Works for me - hopefully as well as your seeds, if i'm lucky.

  • Like
Reactions: DeepThought
DeeperBlue.com - The Worlds Largest Community Dedicated To Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing


ISSN 1469-865X | Copyright © 1996 - 2024 deeperblue.net limited.

DeeperBlue.com is the World's Largest Community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving, Ocean Advocacy and Diving Travel.

We've been dedicated to bringing you the freshest news, features and discussions from around the underwater world since 1996.