Or affect it in any way? Certainly very important for diabetics especially, this question luckily has a very simple and clear cut answer.
No. Under normal conditions, Aspartame does not elevate blood sugar.
As researched by Lapierre KA et al. in 1990:
Plasma glucose concentrations were not significantly different between aspartame and placebo. The results of this study suggest that following a single 15 mg/kg dose of aspartame, no detectable effects are observed…
Worth mentioning here is the dose. 15mg/kg of aspartame is a LARGE dose of aspartame. Way beyond what you’re likely to consume in a day, even if you’re a diet drink enthusiast. Coke Zero for example contains ~225mg per Litre. To match the dose in the test, an average person weighing around 60-70kg would have to consume about 4 litres of Coke Zero. Or about a Gallon, for those using the imperial system. That’s beyond most folks. Even with more aspartame heavy products, most people would struggle to match the dose.
In 2004, Berlin I et al. found similar results:
Aspartame 0.6 g/200 ml (A, placebo), glucose 32.5 g/200 ml (G32.5) and 75 g/200 ml water (G75) were administered to 12 healthy smokers after an overnight abstinence in a crossover, double blind study.
Blood glucose and plasma insulin increased after G32.5, G75 and remained unchanged after A.
Again, we can see that while regular sugary drinks increased both blood sugar and insulin, aspartame did not.
So is aspartame safe for Diabetics?
I’d say so. While individual reactions are always a possibility, the general data does not support the argument that aspartame raises blood sugar.
In 1985, Nehrling JK et al. looked at diabetes patients:
Sixty-two subjects having either insulin-dependent or non-insulin-dependent diabetes completed a randomized, double-blind study comparing effects of aspartame or a placebo on blood glucose control. Twenty-nine subjects consumed 2.7 g aspartame per day for 18 wk.
After 18 wk, no changes were seen in fasting or 2-h postprandial blood glucose levels…
We conclude that use of aspartame as a low-calorie sweetener does not adversely affect glycemic control of persons with diabetes.
Again, the dose is worth mentioning. 2.7g of aspartame per day is WAY above what anyone would normally consume. That’s comparable to ~3 gallons or over 10 litre’s of Coke Zero. And for 18 weeks straight? That ain’t happening.
In 1997, Abdallah L et al. found that:
At lunchtime, 12 normal-weight men sucked for 5 min a sucrose, an aspartame-polydextrose, or an unsweetened polydextrose tablet (3 g) with no added flavor.
…there was a significant decrease in plasma glucose and insulin after all three stimuli.
This confirms that blood sugar is not elevated. In fact, the opposite. Though this is clearly not inherent to aspartame as all test samples produced a similar result. A logical argument would be to conclude that the process of sucking on a tablet simulates a consumption of a meal, and the body prepares by slightly lowering its blood glucose and insulin levels naturally, to prepare for the incoming nutrients which would then cause a proper dose dependant response.
A certain correlation is also seen with the 1999 paper by Melanson KJ et al.:
On the first meal initiation, volunteers consumed one of three isovolumetric drinks (aspartame, 1 MJ simple carbohydrate, and 1 MJ high-fat; randomized order)
Aspartame ingestion was followed by blood glucose declines (40% of subjects), increases (20%), or stability (40%). These patterns were related to the volunteers’ perception of sweetness of the drink.
Varied blood glucose responses after aspartame support the controversy over its effects, and may relate to sweetness perception.
This would be the only piece of somewhat controversial results, though even here, it’s clear that if anything blood sugar levels remain stable or drop, with a low chance of increase.
Generally speaking, under normal conditions, aspartame DOES NOT affect blood sugar. The research has proven this multiple times in both healthy individuals, smokers, as well as diabetics.
And while individual reactions will always remain a possibility, there is no reason to avoid aspartame for blood sugar elevation reasons, unless you’re proven to experience detrimental effects. So it pays to repeat the conclusion from our main article on aspartame:
in most cases aspartame will not have a noticeable effect on blood sugar. However, depending on the perceived sweetness of the food or drink consumed, there may be a rare individual reaction in any direction.
– Aspartame-Research team