Ahhh, the joy of diet soda!
I mean really – who wouldn’t love the idea of being able to get your “fizz-fix” from soda without all the unwanted side effects like calories and weight gain.
Thing is, according to mounting research, it appears diet soda may not be the guilt-free drink many hoped it would be. Case in point: A study presented at a 2011 meeting of the American Diabetes Association found a positive link between weight gain and diet soda consumption. Plus, that same study also found waist size to actually be 70 percent larger in diet soda drinkers when compared to non-diet soda drinkers.
But how can this be?
I mean, if something’s called “diet,” then it should obviously help you lose weight? Right?
Unfortunately, the answer is: Nope.
To better explain why diet soda may not be the get-out-of jail-free card some people think it is let’s go over a few diet soda facts:
Fact #1: Diet soda stimulates insulin release.
When you eat something sweet, there’s a message sent to your brain that says “Hey, we’re eating something sweet! Yum! Expect calories soon!” And interestingly enough, this message doesn’t change simply because you’re consuming a “zero-calorie” beverage. So in the case of diet soda, your brain still gets the “Expect calories soon!” message and signals your pancreas to pump out insulin, aka your body’s “fat storage hormone.” Now keep in mind too that most people usually pair their diet soda with a meal that may contain a lot of calories as a way to “balance things out.” Problem is, the hormonal effects of diet soda – just by virtue of it being sweet-tasting – can actually result in the same “fattening” effect as if you drank a regular soda.
Fact #2: Diet soda can worsen your sweet tooth.
The funny thing about diet soda is that it can actually taste sweeter when compared to its regular version. This is something I noticed immediately when I first tried diet soda a few years ago, and you may have noticed the same thing too – especially if you have a keen sense of taste. And the reason for this is because the artificial or natural sweeteners typically used in diet soda are oftentimes hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. So what ends up happening with chronic diet soda drinkers is that they can become desensitized to sweets and end up craving random sweets (like cookies and ice-cream) even more.
Fact #3: Diet soda can weaken your bones
Although it’s not a side effect you’d likely “expect” from diet soda, an article from the National Osteoporosis Foundation does warn against excess diet soda consumption due to the fact that certain chemicals in diet soda could lead to weakened bones. Now speaking as a fitness expert and exercise enthusiast, this does concern me a bit since strong bones are key to doing things life running, jumping, weight-lifting, etc… Here’s something else to think about too: As we women get older, our risk of osteoporosis increases (even greater than men’s), and by drinking diet you could probably speed up the process of your bones getting weakened and more prone to breaking as you get older.
Now after reading all the above I’m sure many of you are now wondering whether I drink diet soda and whether I’d recommend others continue or stop drinking it. So here’s my 2 cents based on both professional and personal experience: I’m not totally against drinking diet soda, and sometimes I’ll even drink it because I have come across quality brands of diet soda as determined by their ingredients. And this is ultimately how I make my decision on whether I’m going to drink a diet soda – or eat any food for that matter – by reading the food label and ingredients. And this is what I’d suggest you do as well. Furthermore, as a general rule of thumb I like to think of diet soda as a treat plain and simple. Yes, it’s something you can certainly indulge in from time to time, but definitely not a beverage you want to make a regular part of your diet. That’s why we have water!
Catch my drift? *wink*
So now I’d like to know your thoughts – Do you drink diet soda? Let me know in the comments!
Peace, Love & Healthy Living! – Doc