If you have diabetes, you know why it’s important to limit the amount of sugar you eat or drink.

It’s generally easy to spot natural sugars in your drinks and food. Processed sugars can be a bit more challenging to pinpoint.

Keep reading to learn more about the processed sweetener sucralose and how it can affect your blood sugar levels.

Sucralose, or Splenda, is an artificial sweetener often used in place of sugar.

One of the major benefits of sucralose is that it has zero calories (1). You may find this helpful if you’re trying to manage your daily calorie intake or dieting.

Sucralose is sweeter than sugar (1), leading many people to favor the substitute over the original. Because of this, you need only a small amount of sucralose to get a very sweet taste in your food or beverage.

Substituting sucralose for sugar may help you lose weight.

A review of randomized controlled trials found that artificial sweeteners like sucralose can reduce body weight by about 1.7 pounds on average (2).

Unlike some other sweeteners, sucralose does not promote tooth decay (3).

Sucralose may affect your gut health.

The friendly bacteria in your gut are extremely important for your overall health, benefiting your immune system, heart, weight and other health aspects.

Rodent studies indicate that sucralose can modify intestinal microbiota and may eliminate some of this good bacteria, leading to inflammation of internal organs, like the liver (4).

In vivo studies show that sucralose may alter hormone levels in your digestive tract, leading to abnormalities that may contribute to metabolic disorders like obesity or even type 2 diabetes (5).

Research also shows that metabolic alterations caused by sucralose can lead to glucose intolerance, which increases your risk for diabetes (6).

More research is necessary to fully understand the link between sucralose and gut health, including more human studies.

But it is not entirely harmless.

Cooking with sucralose may also be dangerous.

In high temperatures — such as during cooking or baking — sucralose can disintegrate, forming potentially toxic chlorinated compounds (7).

Based on the available data, potential health risks associated with cooking with sucralose are not fully understood. You may want to think twice before cooking with sucralose.

Artificial sweeteners like sucralose are marketed as sugar substitutes that don’t raise blood sugar levels, making them a safer choice for diabetics.

While these claims seem promising, they have yet to be confirmed by multiple large studies (8).

Previous studies have found sucralose to have little to no effects on blood sugar levels in individuals of average weight who regularly used sucralose (9).

But more recent research suggests that it can cause blood sugar levels to spike in other populations.

A small study found that sucralose elevated blood sugar levels by 14% and insulin levels by 20% in 17 people with severe obesity who didn’t regularly consume artificial sweeteners (10).

These results indicate that sucralose may elevate blood sugar levels in new users but have little effect on regular consumers.

For individuals with diabetes who do not produce insulin or do not respond to the hormone properly, a spike in blood sugar levels could cause serious health problems.

If you have diabetes, you may want to limit your sucralose intake.

You may not realize it, but sucralose is likely a part of your diet already. If you like to drink low-calorie soft drinks and juices, eat diet snacks, or chew gum, sucralose is likely the sweetener you taste.

Whether you already consume sucralose or are thinking about adding it to your diet, talk to your doctor to see if substituting sucralose for sugar in your diet is the right move for you.

If your doctor approves, you should first consider everything that you’re currently drinking and eating and look for areas to substitute sugar with sucralose.

For example, if you take sugar in your coffee, you may gradually replace the sugar with sucralose.

You may notice that you don’t need as much sucralose as you did sugar.

Once you get used to the taste of sucralose, you may want to incorporate it into larger recipes — but be mindful that cooking with sucralose may be unsafe.

According to the FDA, the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) level for sucralose in the United States is 5 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day (11).

For a person who weighs 150 pounds, that comes out to roughly 28 packets of Splenda a day.

That doesn’t mean you necessarily should consume that much Splenda.

You may want to practice moderation, especially if you have diabetes.

Sucralose may be a zero-calorie sugar substitute that can help you lose weight, but it may raise blood sugar levels and affect your gut health.

This can lead to health consequences, especially if you have diabetes.

Before adding sucralose to your diet, check with your doctor to make sure they believe it’s the right choice for you and your diabetes management.

If you do decide to use sucralose, you may want to practice moderation and monitor your blood sugar levels after consumption.

You can purchase sucralose by its brand name, Splenda, at your local grocery store.