What is Sucralose & Is It Bad for You?

August, 26, 2023

What is Sucralose & Is It Bad for You?

Unraveling the truth about sucralose: Is it harmful to health? Discover why Ethan’s Clean Energy Shots prioritize natural ingredients without sucralose.

If you’ve seen (or used) those little yellow packets of Splenda, you’re already familiar with sucralose.

Splenda is the brand name for sucralose, and it’s the most common artificial sweetener found in food and beverages. A lot of energy drinks contain this super-sweetener to reduce calorie content while still giving that “sugar rush” taste experience.

The makers of Splenda claim “it’s made from real sugar” but this is both misleading and irresponsible. While it IS a chemically altered form of the sucrose (sugar) molecule, it has a completely different effect on our bodies.

Think of it this way: we know whiskey is made from water and grain. But does it effectively quench thirst or curb hunger? Of course not. Splenda’s marketing banks on the assumption that consumers can be duped.

Ethan’s steers clear of anything artificial and uses only organic, naturally-derived ingredients. There’s a good reason for this which we’ll unravel.

The FDA considers sucralose safe but studies conflict on its long-term impact on metabolism, gut health, and the immune system. So before you grab your next sugar-free energy drink, we want you to know more about sucralose so you can make an informed decision.

Understanding Sucralose and Artificial Sweeteners

Generally speaking, the use of zero or low-calorie sweeteners in food can help with weight management and blood sugar control in the short term. This is because reducing the amount of sugar that the body has to metabolize promotes better insulin sensitivity. 

Better insulin sensitivity = stable blood sugar = reduced risk for obesity, inflammation and disease.

Sounds great, right? Except not all non-nutritive sweeteners are the same. Some are naturally derived (like stevia) while others are artificially engineered in a lab—like sucralose. Sucralose came onto the U.S. food scene in the 1990s. Being 600 times sweeter than natural sugar with almost no calories, it’s become the preferred artificial sweetener. (1)

Sugar free chewing gum, baked goods, ice cream, diet beverages—including the most popular energy drinks—often have added sucralose. Even food that isn’t specifically advertised as “diet” or “low-calorie” may contain sucralose for added sweetness.

At the moment, the FDA claims that consuming sucralose in reasonable amounts is perfectly safe. However, compared to other artificial sweeteners that have been on the market longer (like saccharin and aspartame—both of which raise health concerns in long-term studies (2), sucralose is relatively new and therefore its long-term safety can’t yet be established. 

Sucralose: Potential Impact on Health, Weight & Well-Being

It’s assumed that a little sucralose is ok for most people. But scientists are concerned and have identified three ways in which the bad might outweigh the good:

Concern #1: Cooking With Sucralose May Not Be Safe

The first problem is what happens when sucralose is subjected to high temperatures, like when used for baking. Initially, the sucralose molecule was thought to be stable when heated. But studies found that when cooked, it undergoes chemical changes resulting in the formation of toxic compounds.

The concern is that these compounds, called chloropropanols and dioxins, are known carcinogens (meaning they could cause cancer). Given how often sucralose is used as a sugar substitute in baked goods, it’s important that the use of sucralose in cooked food be further evaluated for safety. (3

In response to these findings, the company that produces Splenda conducted its own study which found it does not produce toxic chemicals when heated. (4) Suspicious? You decide. (This highlights the importance of critically reading studies and noticing any conflicts of interest.)

Concern #2: Sucralose Could Disrupt Your Gut Health

Gut health is super important but can be a little complicated to understand. To keep everyone on the same page, here’s a little background…

The billions of microbes that inhabit your digestive tract make up your gut microbiome. A healthy gut contains a variety of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. These tiny organisms play a huge role in your digestive health, detoxification system, metabolism, ability to fight germs, even emotional well-being. 

Ideally, we want the beneficial organisms to far outnumber the harmful ones. You’ve probably heard of candida and e.coli—those are examples of microbes we don’t want, and they can thrive when there isn’t enough “good” bacteria to crowd them out. Lots of factors can throw off gut balance, especially what you eat and drink—including sucralose.

According to studies, sucralose can disrupt the balance of microbes in the gut. Believe it or not, these simple organisms are able to communicate with one another. Researchers think that sucralose interferes with the normal functioning of beneficial microbes by causing a glitch in their “communication”, thus creating an imbalance. (5)

Whenever harmful microbes in the gut outnumber beneficial ones, it’s called “dysbiosis.” Dysbiosis is linked to acute and chronic inflammation. This is a big deal! Why? Because many major health conditions are associated with chronic inflammation. (6)

Here are just some ways dysbiosis and chronic inflammation can affect your health:

  • Mental health. Did you know about 95% of the body’s serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, digestion, and even sexual desire) is found in the gut, not the brain? (7) Dysbiosis affects how serotonin works in your body and can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. (8)
  • Autoimmune conditions. Research shows that poor gut health can affect the immune system. Disorders affecting the immune system like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Crohn’s disease can be brought on or worsened by dysbiosis. (9)
  • Food sensitivities: What you eat and drink inevitably interacts with the microbes living in your digestive tract. Scientists have established a correlation between gut dysbiosis and food sensitivities. (10)
  • Cognitive impairment. As a result of the chronic inflammation dysbiosis can cause, poor gut health is linked to brain fog, cognitive impairments, and eventually Alzheimer’s disease. (11)

When you’re looking for a dietary supplement to help give you energy and sustained focus, one that contains an ingredient that deteriorates your underlying health is obviously counterproductive. This is a major reason Ethan’s doesn’t go near sucralose.

Concern #3: Sucralose Can Actually Contribute to Weight Gain

The real reason most people opt for artificial sweeteners like sucralose is to satisfy a sweet tooth while managing weight. However, this strategy can backfire, and long-term use can actually promote weight gain

One simple reason is because artificial sweeteners, especially sucralose, are so much sweeter than real sugar. As a result, it’s possible to get too accustomed to overly sweetened foods which makes other healthier foods less appealing. 

Sucralose is popular because in theory, it’s supposed to prevent blood sugar spikes that cause inflammation. Some studies do in fact show it does help keep blood sugar stable. (1) However, other studies suggest the opposite.

For example, a randomized, controlled trial of 33 healthy adults showed that even just 14 days of moderate sucralose intake (only 15% of the amount the FDA says is safe to consume) significantly reduced insulin sensitivity. (12) As we know, insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control go hand in hand. 

Besides the potential to reduce insulin sensitivity, studies show yet another way sucralose can disrupt your metabolism. Remember how sucralose can throw off the balance of gut bacteria and cause inflammation? Well, chronic inflammation is also linked to diabetes and obesity.

The skinny on artificial sweeteners? A report published in the Canadian Medical AssociationJournal sums it up nicely: (13)

Ethan’s All-Natural Alternative

Choosing energy drinks with sucralose might seem logical at first. You get a rush of sweetness without added calories or an automatic spike in blood sugar. However, sucralose can cause other unwanted effects like gut dysbiosis, chronic inflammation, and changes to your metabolism. 

Ethan’s doesn’t take chances with your health. When it comes to sucralose, we keep the lack of proven safety in mind:

“More studies must be conducted taking vulnerable population groups into account, such as children, the elderly, pregnant women, lactating women, or subjects with intestinal pathologies, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc. and chronic and/or excessive consumers of low- and non-calorie sweeteners.” (15)

Gut health and an optimized metabolism are worth preserving since they determine how well your other body systems function. That’s why Ethan’s doesn’t include any sweeteners (not even real sugar) in its Clean Energy Shots. The formulation also includes Lion’s Mane, a nootropic mushroom which actually improves gut health and reduces inflammation. (14)

With all-natural, anti-inflammatory ingredients like Cordyceps mushroom, Lion’s mane, bioavailable B vitamins, and caffeine derived from green tea and guayasa, Ethan’s Clean Energy Shots support mental and physical stamina without the side effects you don’t want.


As the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The controversy over the safety and usefulness of artificial sweeteners like sucralose doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. 

Will small amounts of sucralose consumed on rare occasions have long-term effects on your health? Most likely not. But with the abundance of sucralose-laden food and drink options (including energy drinks!), it’s possible to consume it without even realizing. 

Making a conscious effort to choose products with all-natural ingredients most of the time can help preserve your overall health and well-being. This goes a long way when you’re trying to maintain or improve mental and physical stamina. 

At Ethan’s, we got you. Our products contain all-natural ingredients so you can save your mental energy for everything else that’s on your plate. 


Myth #1: Sucralose is natural because “it’s made from real sugar”.

Truth: It’s made by chemically altering “real” sugar molecules in a laboratory and has a completely different effect on the body. 

Myth #2: The FDA approved its use so it must be totally safe.

Truth: While some studies show a little bit of sucralose may be okay for most people, other research shows it can disrupt gut health, cause inflammation, and is potentially toxic when cooked. 

Myth #3: It can help prevent weight gain.

Truth: Sucralose can actually contribute to weight gain by affecting the balance of gut microorganisms, causing chronic inflammation, and reducing insulin sensitivity.

Authored By

Jessica Moon

Jessica is a health writer and digital marketing strategist. A former nutritionist, Jessica realized she can have a far greater impact by getting out of the office and meeting people where they are - online! She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Northeastern University and a Master of Science from the University of Bridgeport. By creating accessible, fact-checked content, she connects the best brands with their ideal customers. When not writing, Jessica binges British tv shows, spends time with her kids, and dreams of the next vacation spot. Reach out any time at www.jessicamoon.co or on LinkedIn.

Read more

Keep Reading