Jul 11

Diet soda and weight loss

Iced glass bottle of diet coke

A refreshing diet coke

Is diet soda good for your weight loss?  Yes, it is.

There is a lot of controversy over diet soda and weight loss. Many nutritionalists say diet soda makes you crave sugar, makes you fat and gives you cancer.

Do not believe them.

The myths about diet soda and weight gain

Myth number 1: 

People who drink diet soda are more likely to be overweight, therefore diet soda makes you fat

Of course people who are overweight are more likely to be drinking diet soda.  Just because they try to control their weight by choosing to drink a beverage with little or no calories, does not mean that beverage has caused their weight gain. This myth is putting the chicken before the egg.

The most often quoted study is from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 2005 [1].  The research found that the more diet drinks the subjects consumed, the greater their likelihood of being overweight

However, even Sharon Fowler, who presented the study, stated that the correlation did not prove the increased consumption of diet soda caused the weight gain.

Myth number 2

Diet soda increases the levels of insulin in your blood and this makes you crave food

Diet iced tea on the rocks

A delicious diet iced tea

A little bit of pseudo-science can make an argument very convincing.  Also, it sounds so plausible that there should be a consequence for having a sweet taste with no calories.

Actually, there is very little evidence to show that diet soda causes any rise in insulin levels.  In fact, a 2011 Food and Nutrition Research study [2] showed people who consumed artificially sweetened food had far lower levels of blood insulin.

A recent study on mice showed the opposite, but I’d put my money on real human beings.

Myth number 3

Diet soda stimulates your appetite

This is subjective.  We are all different, and our appetites are produced by our brains and cannot be measured.

Alternatively, it is more likely that the liquid volume and bubbles of a diet soda produces a temporary feeling of fullness, and the taste and refreshment are pyschologically gratifying and give a sense of satisfaction.

What do you think – do you feel any hungrier after drinking a diet soda than just before?

Myth number 4

Artificial sweetener is not natural

Aspartame powder

Aspartame in powder form

The most common artificial sweetener in diet soda is aspartame.  Aspartame comprises two amino acids – aspartic acid and phenylalanine.  These elements are natural and occur in our bodies and in the foods we eat anyway.

Other common sweeteners like Sucralose and acesulfame potassium, also comprise of naturally occuring elements.

Myth number 5

Aspartame gives you cancer

The US FDA approved aspartame in 1974, and now, over 90 countries have approved it for use.  If aspartame consumption did involve health risks, we would have heard about it.

In fact the FDA went further and stated that aspartame is

“…one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved” [3]

Diet soda and weight loss

When you’re losing weight it can be difficult to cope with being hungry.  To enjoy a sweet taste with little or no calories is a big help.

Used in the right way, artificially sweetened drinks (and food) can give your diet a major boost.

Two slim friends hugging

Embrace diet soda as your diet friend

Follow these tips:

  • Drink diet soda in moderation.  Too much of anything can be bad for you.
  • Drink it ice cold, over ice.  It will take longer to drink and your body will burn a few calories raising it to body temperature (not many, but over time every Calorie helps)
  • Be careful, some diet sodas contain more calories than others.  Always count your calories.
  • Keep it fresh.  Try new diet sodas like cherryade, limeade, cream soda and even Diet Coke comes in many varieties.
  • Save the calories you’re saving – don’t spend them on something else!
  • The best drink is water, nature’s purest and most thirst-quenching element.

Dieting is hard enough as it is, and  you need to find help wherever you can.  In short, you need allies in your battle to lose weight, and diet soda is a valuable diet friend.

By David Hart

(c) Copyright 2012.  All rights reserved.


[1] University of Texas study

[2] Food and Nutrition Reseach study

[3] Wikipedia

Do you drink diet soda when you’re dieting? Do you think it is a good or bad idea? Share your opinions by commenting below:


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