One question that gets asked way too often is “does diet soda make you fat”. We all know by now that soda (aka “pop” in some areas) is one of the most evil things you can put in your body… the nasty chemicals, the gut-fattening high fructose corn syrup, and a myriad of health problems caused by this carbonated cocktail worshipped by those that don’t care about their health or body.
Surprisingly, many people falsely believe that “diet” soda is in some way a good thing for losing body fat. In fact, I hear people all the time proudly state that they “eat so healthy and only drink diet soda”.
So let’s set the record straight…
There is NOTHING even remotely healthy about drinking diet soda. In fact, I’ve even seen several studies that showed dedicated diet soda drinkers got even FATTER than their regular soda drinking counterparts.
Here’s some findings from an 8-year University of Texas study that I had read…
An excerpt from the study author:
“What didn’t surprise us was that total soft drink use was linked to overweight and obesity,” Fowler tells WebMD. “What was surprising was when we looked at people only drinking diet soft drinks, their risk of obesity was even higher.”
“There was a 41 percent increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day,” Fowler says.
Ok, as if we didn’t already know how bad regular soda was for us, and now they’re showing us studies that diet soda makes us even fatter than the already bad stuff!
There’s a lot of complicating factors as to why this occurs…
One reason is that the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas create a negative hormonal response in the body that increases fat storing hormone production and increases cravings for more sweets and refined carbohydrates in the time period after consuming the diet drink.
I’ve been reading more studies lately on the effects of artificial sweeteners and one thing that appears clear is that it’s not a good idea to try to “fool” your body. Essentially you “fool” your body by drinking something very sweet (sweetened with artificial sweeteners), but you don’t actually ingest the sugar calories your body expects. Your body has a hard time knowing how to deal with that.
With artificial sweeteners, your taste buds “sense” that you ingested something very sweet, and even though you might not have ingested sugar, your body follows with an insulin response. As you know, higher insulin levels can increase cravings as well as triggering your body to deposit body fat. This is not to say it’s any better to drink a sugar-sweetened soda which has it’s own host of problems.
Another reason for weight gain from drinking diet drinks is that people may subconsciously think that because they are drinking a diet soda, that gives them more leeway to eat more of everything else, hence consuming more calories overall.
The cause for weight gain from diet drinks may actually be some combination of both of those explanations above.
I’ve said this all along, but the bottom line is that if you’re serious about your health and body, soda of any kind (and artificial sweeteners in anything for that matter!) should be avoided at all times, except for very rare occasions when you can’t avoid them.
So what is a good alternative to diet sodas?
The best alternatives are good old water with lemon or unsweetened iced teas… you have plenty of options with teas – green, white, black, oolong, red… be creative in making your iced teas and you’ll enjoy it more. Plus you’ll get a more diverse array of antioxidants.
I just add a little of the natural non-caloric sweetener stevia to my iced teas and I love them. Please share this page with yourfriends and family to help them kick the diet soda habit.
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