Why Is Diet Soda Bad for You? No Benefits for Dieters.
Sometimes soda is our best excuse for needed energy.
Especially because it is loaded with those things we crave—like sugar and caffeine—which gives our otherwise mellow mood the energy jolt it needs.
To keep our energy levels up, and to get us through the day, soda can be addictive for many people. It can also be exceptionally difficult to give up if your goal is to maintain a successful diet.
During a diet, many people will switch to diet soda, simply because they still crave their energy fix, but think it's a healthier alternative.
“Many people are addicted to the caffeine and sugar content in regular soda,” says Christy Shatlock, one of the lead dietitians for BistroMD. “Because they want to maintain a diet, many people think that choosing to drink diet soda is actually beneficial because it won't cause them to gain weight. In reality, this isn’t the case.”
With the expertise of one of our lead dietitians, we reveal startling new facts about diet soda and its impact on weight gain, and how it can possibly contribute to your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
How Diet Soda Helps You Gain Fat
“In a recent study, researchers from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio revealed results that showed the link between diet soda intake and weight gain over time,” says Christy. “Over a period of nine years, researchers were able to conclude that those people who drank diet soda had a 70% greater increase in their waistline growth.”
Even though these results showed how diet soda is bad for you, researchers are still trying to figure out why. Experts in the field of nutrition believe it has something to do with the brain’s expectancy of calories.
“The brain is wired to expect a big load of calories when foods taste sweet or fatty,” says Christy. “When you go a on a diet, this can actually throw your brain out of whack. When artificial sweeteners, like the kind found in diet soda, are consumed, the brain can mistake these calories for fat, which causes your body to store them that way.”
The disconnect caused between the taste of artificial sweeteners and their lack of calories is believed to be one of the main reasons why people tend to gain more fat when they consume more diet soda.
How This Fat Increases Your Risk
Diet soda is bad for you, simply because of the extra fat you retain around your mid-section, especially around your belly.
“Excess weight around your belly can spell trouble,” says Christy. “Abdominal fat is a risk factor for a variety of different illnesses and conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
As part of this same study, researchers observed that when subjects consumed a high amount of aspartame, a particular artificial sweetener, blood glucose was at an elevated fasting level.
“When blood glucose levels are in this state, this is often a good indication of a diabetic or pre-diabetic condition,” says Christy. “These findings, however, were concluded after experiments conducted on mice. However, this is still a good indicator of how artificial sweeteners in diet soda are bad for our health.”
When trying to maintain a healthy diet, there are some alternatives Christy recommends other than relying on your fix for caffeine and sugar through diet soda.
“Green tea is a much healthier option than diet soda,” says Christy. “It also has more caffeine, and is lower in calories and better for you. Coffee is also a good option—just go easy on the sugar.”
For more healthy advice from our team of experts, visit our Health Library section for more information.