Add Some Flavor to Your Weight Loss Plan

Everyone knows that losing weight means making changes in the way we eat and our level of activity. Eating less + moving more = losing weight. But we also need to hydrate. Many times, calories from beverages seem to escape our attention. A glass of wine here, a soda there, and a sweet tea for good measure… we consume calories mindlessly. Before you know it, you’ve drunk way more calories than intended and in turn have blown through your allotment for the day.

So, what kind of beverage choices can you make that taste great and allow you to stay on track? Well, water of course! It’s the obvious choice, right?  But let’s be honest – for some, water can be a bit boring. And when you are on a weight loss plan, getting bored with choices can lead you to a rut. Strictly sticking with water may be hard to sustain, making weight loss even more difficult.

The secret to long term success in weight management is the ability to marry a healthy diet with your favorite personal food preferences. Luckily we have products available, like stevia, that can help you find or create beverages that you enjoy while cutting calories.

There has been a lot of controversy about the impact of drinking diet beverages and weight loss. You may have seen news segments and articles on the internet claiming that diet drinks can cause you to crave sweets and worse – gain weight! However, you can’t always believe what you read and headlines can often be misleading. Frequently, these articles with eye-catching titles are more about internet “click bait” and less about the real story.

Click bait aside, the truth is that there is a significant amount of research supporting that diet drinks are in fact a tool in losing weight. One recent study published in the June 2014 issue of the Obesity, looked to assess the impact of diet beverages on weight loss. The 12-week clinical trial directly compared the effects of drinking diet drinks to drinking water alone while on a calorie controlled diet. Low and behold, at the conclusion of the study, not only did both groups lose weight – but the diet drinkers actually lost more! The diet drinkers lost an average of 13 pounds, while the water drinking group lost 9 pounds.

James O. Hill, Ph.D., executive director of the University of Colorado Anchutz Health and Wellness Center, and co-author of the study has commented that not only did the diet beverage drinkers lose more weight, but they also reported being significantly less hungry. So, if you have been struggling to increase your water intake and reduce your liquid calories; replacing caloric beverages with diet drinks can be a safe and effective way to help you bridge the gap and reduce calories to promote weight loss.

Here are some suggestions for using stevia to naturally sweeten your beverages.

  • Try adding a few drops of lemon stevia to a glass of sparkling water and drop in a few frozen raspberries to keep it cold. You will have a pretty and refreshing drink for the same amount of calories in a regular glass of water.
  • Sweet and Soothing. Do you crave something sweet after dinner? Combine a cup of skim milk with one tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and add a drop of vanilla stevia to taste. This is an excellent replacement of a high calorie dessert at only 90 calories, and milk provides a great source of calcium and protein.
  • Green Tea. Many of us look to soda or sugary coffee drinks to get through the midday slump. When that “3 p.m. feeling” comes on, try tea for a nutritious and healthy alternative. Try brewing a cup of jasmine green tea and adding a packet of stevia. This can give you the boost you need and save you calories!



Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.


The State of the Science on Stevia

Keith AyoobJuly 6, 2018 — Dr. Keith Ayoob, Associate Clinical Professor Emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, spoke to delegates at the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) International Congress of Nutrition (ICN), held in Buenos Aires, Argentina October 15-20, 2017.   In his presentation, he discussed two of today’s most common health epidemics – obesity and Type 2 diabetes – and reviewed the science confirming the role low and no calorie sweeteners (LNCS) such as stevia can play in reducing added sugar intake. Dr. Ayoob’s presentation “Health and Wellness of Stevia as a Sweetener” drew from in-vitro, animal and human studies, and discussed stevia’s potential role in helping manage diabetes, blood pressure, weight, and appetite.

Understanding its Role in the Fight Against Obesity and Diabetes

BY: Dr. Keith Ayoob

Key Objectives:

  • Explore the extent of the global health epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
  • Discuss specifics of global health recommendations to reduce intake of added sugars and the role played by zero-calorie sweeteners in achieving these recommendations
  • Explore the unique role plant-based stevia may have in helping persons with diabetes manage blood glucose levels.
  • Learn and apply information related to the benefits of natural-origin stevia and the opportunities and challenges in developing reduced-calorie-reduced-sugar foods with sweeteners/stevia

Global Obesity Epidemic

The issue of global obesity is worsening. The International Diabetes Foundation predicts that 641 million people will have diabetes by 2040, up from 415 million in 2015.  In North America, the prediction numbers 60.5 million by 2040, compared with 44.3 million in 2015. Obesity is a gateway disease for diabetes, which in turn is a gateway disease for chronic conditions such as metabolic syndrome, hypertension, cardiovascular risk, retinopathy, and more.

Worldwide authorities have made a call for healthier lifestyles including reductions in the consumption of total calories and especially added sugar. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a decrease in added sugars to less than 10% of total calories, with the organization ultimately aiming for less than 5% of total calories sourced from added sugars.  Without changes, such as replacing sugar with LNCS, this level of reduction will be extremely difficult for most people to achieve in the present environment.

In reducing calories from sugar, and in looking at low calorie sweetener options, let’s look at the scientific evidence and efficacy of stevia as an option in sugar reduction.

Scientific Evidence of Stevia

from [TT1] Evidence Based Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)[1] reviewed studies on steviol glycosides (a sweet component from stevia leaf extract):

  • In-vitro studies showed a stimulation in insulin secretion from islet cells, up-regulation of key genes controlling insulin secretion and a positive impact on insulin signaling and release.
  • Animal studies indicated an improved insulin sensitivity and plasma glucose levels in normal, type 2 diabetic or obese rats as well as a decrease in blood glucose levels, possibly by enhancing insulin secretion and regulating gluconeogenesis.
  • Human studies in persons with and without type 2 diabetes, up to 1000 mg preparation, showed no negative effect on glucose homeostasis, with some studies showing reduced postprandial glucose in persons with diabetes. In addition, there was no effect on blood pressure in either those with or without type 2 diabetes.

In the Onakpoya and Heneghan, et el[2] meta-analysis of nine human randomized controlled trials (RCT) studies of various pharmacologic doses, stevioside showed no dose-response relationship between stevia and cardiovascular factors, and in particular showed a small reduction in blood pressure.

In the Maki KC, et el[3] 16-week study , 122 diabetic adults were given 1000mg of Reb A stevia per day. The study found there to be no negative effects on glycemic load, HbA1C, fasting glucose, or serum insulin, noting that the results held even at a pharmacologic dose.

The Mohd-Radzman, et el[4] review  on the potential role of stevia in managing insulin resistance and diabetes in animal studies indicated a decrease in lipid peroxidation when pre-fed with stevia and an increase in insulin secretion, suggesting slower or reduced progression of diabetic co-morbid complications. In human studies, there was a decrease in postprandial glucose levels when fed meals supplemented with stevioside, compared with both sucrose and aspartame. Researchers further noted that stevia seems to have a target-specific effect, by reducing hyperglycemia in human subjects (1gm dose), while having no effect in normoglycemic conditions, suggesting no danger of hypoglycemia. (Evidence Based Com Alt Med)

Efficacy of Stevia

in [TT2] Real Life

A human study conducted by Anton SDet al[5]  showed less postprandial glucose spiking with stevia in a reduced-calorie meal, compared with a sucrose-laden meal, and with no differences in hunger or satiety from the sucrose group.

In a human study conducted by Li, et al[6] with individuals 8-13 years of age, children actually preferred the stevia-sweetened chocolate milk, and that “label-conscious” parents preferred seeing stevia on the label rather than sugar, whereas the “traditional” parents preferred the label indicating the sugar-sweetened milk.

An Expert Consensus Statement from Gibson, et al[7] showed agreement that low- and no- calorie sweeteners can be useful tools for replacing high-calorie ingredients, enhancing weight loss efforts, managing postprandial glucose and insulin levels in both persons with and without diabetes  without changes in appetite or satiety, and providing dental health benefits.

The Miller, et al[8] meta-analysis  of 15 RCTs and 9 prospective cohort studies showed significant body weight reductions from the use of LNCS, versus sugar sweetened beverages and even water, with the analysis concluding that the LNCS were useful tools for improving compliance with weight loss and weight maintenance efforts.

The Rogers PJ et al[9] meta-analysis also noted that low calorie sweeteners do not increase energy intake or body weight, whether compared with caloric or non-caloric conditions.


Weight Management

Foods containing stevia may help with a long-term modest effect on body weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.


Foods containing stevia help lower total calorie intake, without over-consumption later in the day.


Stevia has been confirmed as safe and appropriate for persons with diabetes. As a sugar replacer, stevia may benefit blood glucose & insulin levels, with no negative effect on glucose homeostasis.

Blood Pressure

Long-term, the use of stevioside may have a small lowering effect on blood pressure, though most studies used consumption levels higher than the acceptable daily intake (ADI).

In Conclusion

When substituted for sugar, stevia can help with weight management by reducing added sugar and calories.  Stevia can be used by anyone, including normal-weight persons, who simply want to reduce overall sugar intake and improve dietary quality.  All major regulatory bodies found stevia to be safe and suitable for the entire family.

One Caveat: Stevia, like all LNCS, is a tool for managing weight and dietary quality, but should not be the only tool. Placing the burden of solving the obesity crisis on a single factor would be inappropriate.  This requires a gradual change in eating style, lifestyle, with stevia and LNCS as part of that plan.

For a copy of the complete presentation, click here.

For more information about stevia, contact the International Stevia Council or the Calorie Control Council.

About Dr. Keith Ayoob

Keith AyoobKeith Ayoob, EdD, RDN, FADN is an Associate Clinical Professor Emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. As a pediatric nutritionist and registered dietitian, Dr. Ayoob is also a past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Dr. Ayoob is a consultant with the Calorie Control Council Advisory Board and the Global Stevia Institute (GSI), GSI is supported by PureCircle Ltd, a global leader in purified stevia leaf extract production.

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1 EFSA. 2010a. Scientific opinion on the safety of steviol glycosides for the proposed uses as food additive. EFSA J 8(4):1537 [85 pp.]; doi: 10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1537. Available from: efsajournal/doc/1537.pdf.

2 Onakpoya IJ, Heneghan CJ. Effect of the natural sweetener, steviol glycoside, on cardiovascular risk factors: a systematic review and metaanalysis of randomised clinical trials. Eur J Prev Card. 2015;22:1575–87

3 Maki, K., Curry, L., Reeves, M., Toth, P., Mckenney, J., Farmer, M., et al. (2008). Chronic consumption of rebaudioside A, a steviol glycoside, in men and women with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 46, 47–53.

4 N. H. Mohd-Radzman, W. I. W. Ismail, Z. Adam, S. S. Jaapar, and A. Adam, “Potential roles of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni in abrogating insulin resistance and diabetes: A Review,” Evidence based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, Article ID 718049, 10 pages, 2013.

5 Anton, S., Martin, C., Han, H., Coulon, S., Cefalu, W., Geiselman, P., et al. (2010). Effects of Stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite, 55, 37–43.

6  Li XE, Lopetcharat K, Drake MA. Parents’ and children’s acceptance of skim chocolate milks sweetened by monk fruit and stevia leaf extracts. J Food Sci. 2015;80:S1083-92.

7 Gibson S, Drewnowski A, Hill J et al. Consensus statement on benefits of low-calorie sweeteners. Nutrition Bulletin 2014; 39(4): 386–9.

8 Miller PE, Perez V. Low-calorie sweeteners and body weight and composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 100: 765-777.

9 Rogers PJ, Hogenkamp PS, de Graaf C, Higgs S, Lluch A, Ness AR et al. Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies. Int J Obes 2016;  40: 381-394

©Copyright 2017 – 2018

Sensory Analysis and Mathematical Modelling Drive Improved Stevia Taste

June 28, 2018 — Dr. John Fry, internationally-acknowledged expert on high-potency sweeteners, presented “Application and Innovation in Stevia and Taste Development: Improved leaf extracts from advanced sensory study” at the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) International Congress of Nutrition (ICN), held in Buenos Aires, Argentina October 15-20, 2017. Discoveries he described are now helping to create today’s stevia sweeteners with greatly improved taste. Read on as Dr. Fry explains important research findings, in addition to more on advances made in the taste profile of one of the fastest growing sweeteners today.

BY: Dr. John Fry

Key Takeaways:
• Multiple ways to characterize and develop unique steviol glycoside blends for superior taste
• Using sensory analysis and mathematical modelling as tools to guide blend choice
• Optimized blends deliver superior taste with deep sugar reduction in both model systems and key applications

Charting earlier uses of stevia in consumer products

In 2008, the first commercial steviol glycoside sweetener in Western markets was high purity rebaudioside A (reb A). This was widely thought at the time to be the best-tasting of the main leaf glycosides. It was soon apparent that reb A – and other steviol glycosides also had non-sweet side tastes. Typically described as bitter or liquorice, these were particularly noticeable at higher usage levels. Such challenging taste qualities, coupled with the relative expense of reb A, threatened to limit the use of this new ingredient.

In pursuit of lower cost leaf extracts, products of lower reb A content quickly appeared. Despite expectations that these would have inferior potency and taste, this was not always the case. For example, the concentration-response curves of pure reb A and a leaf extract with only 80% reb A (RA80) were not significantly different. Moreover, there were anecdotal suggestions that the RA80 actually tasted somewhat better than pure reb A.

It seemed that the presence of other steviol glycosides in the RA80, far from being detrimental, might have a positive effect. Studies were initiated to investigate this.

Source: Connect Consulting

Approach I

The first study used highly purified individual steviol glycosides. Eleven compounds were assessed for attributes such as taste recognition threshold and sweet and bitter concentration-response curves.

Ultimately, three concentration-response curves were measured for each glycoside: sweetness referred to sucrose, bitterness referred to caffeine, and liquorice referenced to a standardised liquorice extract – the first time the latter two calibrations had been attempted for steviol glycosides.

The enormous program of tasting demanded high-throughput sensory methods. These involved a body of about 100 trained panellists[TT1]  who, working over two years, carried out difference, descriptive, threshold and quantitative work.

Identifying a superior taste profile

The resulting concentration-response data were the first input to a predictive mathematical model. Once individual glycosides had been assessed, binary mixtures were created and tested again, this time particularly looking for synergistic interactions that might enhance sweetness and/or reduce the undesirable side tastes. Ternary and higher order mixtures were similarly investigated.

The resultant refined model helps identify glycoside mixtures of superior taste. For example, one output is color-coded “maps” showing all possible combinations of various glycosides, and highlighting those areas where sweetness is enhanced or undesirable side tastes reduced.

Source: Carlson et al Cargill Inc, US Patent application 20150237898

These model visualisations have further uses. Similar to geographical mapping, taste contour lines can be drawn. The “finding the sweet spot” chart shows three such plots, one each for sweetness, bitterness and liquorice, overlaid on each other. The easily-seen highlighted area predicts the glycoside compositions with maximum sweetness intensity and minimum side tastes.

Source: Carlson et al Cargill Inc, US Patent application 20150237898

The approach is not limited to three-way blends, but the picture becomes more complicated as more components are added. Ultimately, two-dimensional visualisation of more than four-component blends becomes impossible, and the output of the model is then still as valuable but purely mathematical.

By combining contour plots in this way, the very large and complex array of potential mixtures could be reduced to a small number of blends likely to exhibit the very best taste properties. The model was first validated by comparing its predictions with the properties of some known blends. For example, the model correctly predicted the identical sweetness concentration response curves of reb A and RA80. Other glycoside blends also performed as predicted.

Helping Reduce Sugar by 75% While Keeping Taste Quality

Subsequently, using the indications of the model, glycoside blends of potentially superior taste quality were identified and their taste properties verified. Several high-performance quaternary blends were found.

Some of these synergistic extracts have been commercialised. To produce them, there is no need to isolate the individual glycosides as was done for the research. Instead, different leaf extracts are carefully analysed and combined to give the key glycosides in the correct ratios.

Source: Connect Consulting based on data from Carlson et al Cargill Inc, US Patent application 20150237898

Such extracts have much reduced side tastes – so they can be used in higher concentrations, permitting greater levels of sugar reduction. For example, in a lemon lime carbonated soft drink, the maximum acceptable sugar reduction was about 50% with reb A. In contrast, a synergistic leaf extract could be used to achieve 75% sugar reduction with little change in quality.

Source: Carlson et al Cargill Inc, US Patent application 20150237898

Approach II

In an alternative approach, a design of experiment platform was used to first screen leaf extracts of single and combination steviol glycosides in specific applications. The data from this screening was applied to determine the optimal combination of glycosides to achieve the sweetness and sensory attributes closest to target taste profile. A descriptive analysis panel provided a description of key sensory attributes of the experimental design prototypes in finished food and beverage application and statistical significance of attribute difference was determined. Principle component analysis (PCA) was used to visually compare the control prototype to the optimal and design samples.

The optimized blend of glycosides identified by the design of experiment platform outperformed Reb A as predicted in the model. In the examples below, the deep sugar reduced chocolate milk and no sugar added yogurt performed best with the optimized blends. These solutions both showed a significant improvement in bitterness and overall liking compared to the single glycoside, Reb A.

Caption: PureCircle Proprietary Research

In Conclusion

These studies show substantial investment in sensory and mathematical analysis has driven the development of today’s synergistic mixtures of steviol glycosides with superior taste that allows greater sugar reduction than ever.

For more information about stevia, contact the International Stevia Council or the Calorie Control Council.

About Dr. John Fry

John Fry is an internationally-acknowledged expert on high-potency sweeteners. Since 1997 he has directed Connect Consulting, one of the world’s foremost technical resources for sweetener manufacturers and users. He speaks and trains widely on sweeteners, sweetness and calorie-control.

Previously, John was Director of Scientific & Technical Services at Holland Sweetener Company, before which he managed the Science Group at Leatherhead Food Research.

John has a BSc and PhD in Food Science from Leeds University. He is also a Chartered Chemist and holds Fellowships of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Food Science & Technology and the British Society of Flavourists.

The International Stevia Council and the Calorie Control Council sponsored Dr. Fry’s presentation.
@Copyright 2017 – 2018

Oven Glazed Chicken Wings

Makes 3 Servings


3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/4 cup hot sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons SPLENDA® Naturals Sugar and Stevia Sweetener Blend
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken wings, cut into three pieces, discard tips


Preheat oven to 375°F

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter with garlic and simmer for 1 minute.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except chicken) and bring to a simmer then cool.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the chicken wings and sauce, and stir to coat.

Spray a baking sheet with vegetable spray.

Place chicken wings on baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven, or until juices run clear.

Nutritional Information

Calories 270
Total Fat 14 g
Cholesterol 70mg
Sodium 1490mg
Total Carbs 19g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 16g
Protein 18g


Recipe courtesy of