Can You Reduce Your Sugar Intake With Sweet Defeat?

Granulated sugar in a bowl with a spoon on a white and gray countertop

 Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Most of us would probably say we ought to cut back on our sugar habit. Sugar is the most popular additive in our food system, and on average, Americans consume about 17 teaspoons of added sugar every single day.

Considering that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) recommended added sugar limit is 12 teaspoons per day, as a nation, we’re definitely overdoing it. But, is it actually a good idea to eliminate sugar from your diet entirely?

A non-prescription lozenge called Sweet Defeat claims to “stop sugar cravings in seconds,” breaking the cycle of desire for sweets. Its active ingredient shows promise for rebooting the mental pathways that make us overindulge.

While this may sound like a godsend for those who struggle with a constant longing for desserts and sweets, some health and wellness experts have concerns over using a supplement to alter our enjoyment of food.

Here’s a closer look at how Sweet Defeat works, and whether using it to nix sugar cravings could be a long-term solution for better health.

Reasons to Reduce Sugar Intake

Sweet Defeat’s mission to help people break up with sugar is appealing for good reason.

Sugar Has Addictive Qualities

Many people have likely experienced the phenomenon that, the more sweets you eat, the more you want. Our brains are wired to respond to sugar in a mechanism similar to how to the brain responds to drugs.

This impact on the brain’s reward center can impair cognitive skills and self-control, and even stimulate a stronger-than-normal sense of hunger.

In short, sugar addiction is real—and with added sweeteners in 90% of our foods, we’ve grown accustomed to a steady stream of it.

Too Much Sugar Can Lead to Health Problems

A high-sugar diet comes with serious health consequences beyond its effects on our brains.

As many a dentist (and probably your mom) has warned, consuming too much can cause tooth decay.

Additionally, empty calories from sugar can lead to weight gain. Over time, taking in too many added sugars can also contribute to increased risk of cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.

What Is Sweet Defeat?

Sweet Defeat exists for the purpose of helping people reduce their sugar intake by eliminating cravings for it.

Its over-the-counter lozenges dissolve on the tongue like a mint and, within seconds, bind to the tongue’s sweet taste receptors, blocking your experience of food’s sugary flavor.

The theory goes that, if you’re unable to experience sweetness, you’ll break the brain’s cycle of craving and reward, leading to markedly decreased sugar consumption.

The supplement’s creators recommend taking one lozenge after every meal so you don’t crave dessert. They also invite users to participate in a 30-day “sugar reset,” using Sweet Defeat every day for a month.

Ingredients

Sweet Defeat lozenges contain five plant-derived ingredients.

Main Active Ingredient

Gymnema extract is the active ingredient in Sweet Defeat. It's responsible for defying sweet tastes. It’s derived from the gymnema sylvestre herb, which has long been used in traditional Eastern medicine as a treatment for diabetes and to curb a sweet tooth. In fact, its meaning in Hindi means “destroyer of sugar.”

Other Ingredients

Some other ingredients in Sweet Defeat include:

  • Zinc boosts gymnema’s effectiveness
  • Mint is added for flavoring purposes
  • Sorbitol is a sugar to add some sweetness without using real sugar
  • Spirulina provides natural color and antioxidants

The Science Behind Sweet Defeat

According to glowing anecdotal reviews on Sweet Defeat’s website, these little lozenges could make you drop pounds and turn your nose up at ice cream forever. But what about the science behind this supplement?

Research

A considerable amount of research has been devoted to exploring gymnema sylvestre’s health benefits. Its use for blocking sweet tastes on the tongue seems to be backed by evidence.

A 2017 double-blind study tested gymnemic acids’ effects on the tongue by having 67 adults try eating candy after consuming a gymnema lozenge or a placebo.

Those who received the lozenge with gymnemic acid reported a decreased desire for candy and consumed 44 percent less of it overall, compared to those who took the placebo. An additional study found that the “perceived pleasantness” of candy was reduced after using the lozenge.

Safety

Gymenma sylvestre extract is considered safe for most healthy people when taken in recommended doses. However, women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant or breastfeed should avoid this herb, and it shouldn’t be given to children.

Pros and Cons

As with many other supplements, responses to gymnema-based lozenges can vary. It isn’t necessarily guaranteed to render your sweet receptors unconscious; some people say they’re still able to taste sweetness after the lozenge dissolves.

For those whose taste buds do respond to the herb, however, it could very well lead to a decreased desire for dessert.

Here are some of the pros and cons of Sweet Defeat:

Pros
  • May reduce sugar intake

  • Can potentially contribute to weight loss

  • Reduced sugar leads to better dental health

  • Gymnema may reduce the risk of other diseases

Cons
  • May reduce food enjoyment

  • Might not be a lasting solution

Pros

Eating fewer sweets may have the beneficial effect of reducing overall calorie consumption, leading to weight loss.

Using Sweet Defeat to cut back on sugar could also mean better dental health and improved blood sugar control (though it should never be substituted for diabetes medication).

In the long-term, if you eat less sugar as a result of gymnema lozenges, you could reduce your risk of certain chronic diseases.

Cons

While using Sweet Defeat may bring these positive results, doing so comes with some definite caveats. Despite the obvious truth that too much sugar is harmful to health, the sweet stuff also has some benefits.

There’s a lot to be said for its ability to enhance flavor in foods, for example. “Sugar often gets a bad rap, but it deserves credit for how can balance sour, bitter, salty and umami taste qualities and improve the texture of many foods,” says chef, dietitian, and food enjoyment activist Michele Redmond, MS, RDN, FAND.

Additionally, food enjoyment is part of the human experience, and embracing this form of pleasure can have its own effects on both physical and mental health. “The ‘quitting sugar for good’ tagline invites this as a goal, but most people don’t aspire to permanently remove foods that add pleasure to life—we all need more of that!” Redmond emphasizes.

In fact, the more we enjoy food, the more we can practice savoring, which has actually been shown to help us eat just enough—and not too much.

Redmond also notes that sweet foods also play a major role in meaningful time with others. “There are foods that contain sugar that connect us to people we love, celebratory experiences, family memories of a favorite birthday food or holiday treat,” she notes. Doing without sweets permanently may interfere with these social ties.

Also, be aware that it may not be a lasting fix. “Buying a diet-related product is rarely a long-term solution,” says Redmond. “Learning about what habits lead to eating certain foods and learning to enjoy them in mindful ways is a life skill that puts you in charge, not a company.”

A Word from Verywell

If you’re looking to dial back your sugar intake–and bravo if you are—Sweet Defeat is one potential way to do so. But, it's always a good idea to speak to a doctor or registered dietician before you try any dietary supplements.

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Article Sources
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