This Month In Diet
  • Rethinking Diet Soda
    Soda with contain few or no calories have got to be good for you, right? They may even help you lose weight! For years that was the general consensus. Recent studies, however, have called that theory into question.  Read >>
  • Moving into Maintenance Mode
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  • Spotlight on Zinc
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Health and Fitness News

Rethinking Diet Soda

Is diet soda really diet friendly?

Back in the ’70s and ’80s, diet soda made its debut, taking the world by storm. After all, everyone knows that regular soda is extremely high in added sugar. For health-conscience people, this makes it a poor choice. But when you have soda options that contain few or no calories, they’ve got to be good for you, right? They may even help you lose weight! For years that was the general consensus. Recent studies, however, have called that theory into question.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that diet soda is a healthy choice for weight loss. Here’s the bubbly truth about diet soda.

Zero Nutrients

Diet soda is made of carbonated water, flavors, colors, acids, additives, preservatives, caffeine, and natural or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, acesulfame-k, or cyclamates. Not much useful there. A few diet soft drinks now include vitamins and minerals, but diet soda is in no way healthy. If you’re looking for a nutritious drink, don’t look in the soda aisle. The best way to quench your thirst and keep your body hydrated is with water, unsweetened tea, coffee, or low-fat milk.

Effect on Weight

At the moment, studies are inconclusive when it comes to diet soda’s effect on weight. Some studies show a negative effect, others show a positive. Of course, some of the positive results come from studies conducted by the artificial sweetener industry. Obviously there is a conflict of interest there, so it’s hard to trust the results.

Many studies also question the safety of artificial sweeteners. While they reduce the amount of added sugar and calories in your diet, could those artificial sweeteners stimulate production of hunger hormones? If they do, that diet soda is actually increasing your appetite! But that’s not all. Artificial sweeteners may cause you to have a stronger sweet tooth. According to research, diet soda increases activity in the areas of the brain that cause you to crave foods high in sugar and fat.

While research is ongoing, diet soda’s effect on weight loss isn’t looking good.

Overall Health

Studies have linked diet soda consumption with a long list of health problems. These include an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis, tooth decay, and depression. Still thirsty? Drink water.

Could the increased health risks be caused by other unhealthy diet and lifestyle habits and not the diet soda? Possibly. Diet soda drinkers may be more likely to eat a diet that leads to weight gain and skip exercise. Perhaps they live less healthily because they expect diet soda to do all the work for them.

Most research on diet soda is based on observational studies that track health trends. Additional experimental studies are needed to form definite conclusions.

The Conclusion

While it’s unclear as to whether or not diet soda is truly diet friendly and will lead to weight loss or weight gain, it is difficult to see it as a healthy option. If you want to lose weight, don’t depend on diet soda to do it for you. Change your diet and increase your physical activity.

For overall health and wellness, take steps to decrease the amount of diet soda you consume. Maybe you’re used to three sodas a day. Start by replacing one of those drinks with a healthier alternative. If you like the caffeine in diet sodas, switch to coffee or tea with little or no added sweeteners. For those who enjoy the carbonation of soda, switch to seltzer water or carbonated water with natural flavors. When you’re craving something sweet, grab a piece of fruit.