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Sweeteners, natural or not, have become commonplace for the supplement industry, heck, sweeteners are pretty much the norm when it comes to flavouring many products on the market today.

The downside is that most of these products contain sweeteners that are either high in unwanted calories or contain artificial sweeteners that cause some unwanted deleterious effects to human health. 

Common artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame or Sucralose have been shown in the literature to alter our gut microbiome, and even though they’re drastically low in calories, may even contribute to weight gain (Pang et al., 2021).

This is why Designer Physique uses a fairly unique, 100% natural, safe, and possibly lowest-calorie sweetener on the market known as Thaumatin.


Where Does Thaumatin Come From?

Thaumatin is a natural, low-calorie sweetener extracted from the Katemfe fruit (Thaumatococcus daniellii) native to Sudan and Western Africa.

Specifically, Thaumatin is a protein that lives in the soft, membranous sac inside the fruit, which surrounds the seeds.

The Katemfe fruit has been cultivated and used to flavour many traditional foods and beverages of West Africa, which dates back as far as 1855 (Daniell, 1855).

What Makes Thaumatin Low in Calories?

Thaumatin is considered a very sweet compound; in fact, it’s actually 2,000 times sweetener than regular table sugar.

Because of Thaumatin’s staggeringly high sweetness profile, only small amounts are needed, which yields a near-zero net calorie return in most products.

In addition to this, Thaumatin is highly soluble, heat-stable and is also considered a “flavour modifier”, meaning it has the ability to mask unwanted flavour “after-tastes” (Kelada et al., 2020).

Other common natural and artificial sweeteners such as Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), Aspartame, or Acesulfame-K are more prone to activating bitter taste receptors in our mouth, which can leave a metallic and/or overly bitter flavour after-taste (Riera et al., 2007).

Sugar alcohol (polyol) based sweeteners such as xylitol, erythritol, or sorbitol may also cause gastric disturbances in some individuals, leading to some potentially undesirable laxative effects (Lenhart & Chey, 2017).

Thaumatin, on the other hand, delivers none of these unwanted side effects, which is why you will find it in many of our products, such as our pea protein isolate or whey protein isolate protein powders.

This allows us to deliver some of the lowest calorie, naturally sweetened protein powders on the market that taste amazing and contain highly digestible sources of plant protein.

The Safety Profile of Thaumatin

You may be wondering, if Thaumatin is so great and low in calories, is it really safe? Short answer, yes.

There have been numerous studies to confirm the toxicity of Thaumatin, and reports have shown that the Thaumatin protein is 100% free from any toxic or allergic effects, according to the World Health Organisation Food Additives Evaluation.

Other popular artificial sweeteners already used in an array of products such as aspartame have shown to exert genotoxic and potentially carcinogenic effects according to animal and epidemiological studies (Yılmaz & Uçar, 2014). 

Thaumatin has been approved within the European Union since 1984, possesses GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) approval in the United States and have been approved for Use in Australia and New Zealand without any risk to human health.

If you’re looking for literature, trials have been conducted on animals to evaluate its safety profile in doses of up to 2000 mg/kg body weight. At the end of the trial, it was concluded that Thaumatin would be unlikely to be hazardous at the anticipated level of consumption (Higginbotham et al., 1983).


The Takeaway

Thaumatin is an intense sweetener and flavour-modifier derived from the Katemfe fruit that has been used since traditional West African culture.

Because of its staggeringly high sweetness profile, not much of Thaumatin is needed, which could make it one of the lowest-calorie sweeteners to date.

On top of this, Thaumatin serves no risk to human health, in comparison to some of the deleterious artificial sweeteners already saturating the market.

This is why Designer Physique uses Thaumatin in almost all of our dairy and dairy-free protein powders. Not only does Thaumatin allow us to keep the calories drastically low, but also allows for a smoother texture and delicious taste profile.

Have you noticed the difference when trying Designer Physique protein using Thaumatin sweetener? what did you think? Leave us a comment!



  • Daniell, W. F. (1855). Katemfe, or the miraculous fruit of Soudan. Pharmaceutical Journal, 14, 158-159.
  • Higginbotham, J., Snodin, D., Eaton, K., & Daniel, J. (1983). Safety evaluation of thaumatin (talin protein). Food and Chemical Toxicology, 21(6), 815-823.
  • Kelada, K., Tusé, D., Gleba, Y., McDonald, K., & Nandi, S. (2020). Process simulation and techno-economic analysis of large-scale Bioproduction of sweet protein Thaumatin II.
  • Pang, M. D., Goossens, G. H., & Blaak, E. E. (2021). The impact of artificial sweeteners on body weight control and glucose homeostasis. Frontiers in Nutrition, 7.
  • Lenhart, A., & Chey, W. D. (2017). A systematic review of the effects of Polyols on gastrointestinal health and irritable bowel syndrome. Advances in Nutrition.
  • Riera, C. E., Vogel, H., Simon, S. A., & Coutre, J. L. (2007). Artificial sweeteners and salts producing a metallic taste sensation activate TRPV1 receptors. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 293(2), R626-R634.
  • Yılmaz, S., & Uçar, A. (2014). A review of the genotoxic and carcinogenic effects of aspartame: Does it safe or not? Cytotechnology, 66(6), 875-881.

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