When trying to lose weight, you’ll inevitably need to make some dietary adjustments, such as eliminating empty calories from your meals. That means avoiding any food and drink that's mostly made up of sugar or fat, as these goodies offer no nutritional value. And one of the most popular empty calorie beverages you’ll want to skip? Carbonated beverages, such as Pepsi and Coke products.
For many of us, soda is a tasty treat that’s hard to give up. So when trying to lose weight, it’s tempting to just replace your favorite soda with its diet counterpart. Instead of sugar, diet sodas are sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-k or sucralose.
But what does the research say? Is it really worth switching regular soda for diet?
During the last few years, news outlets have reported on studies finding that drinking diet soda is associated with weight gain. Specifically, several observational studies have found that using artificial sweeteners and drinking high amounts of diet soda is associated with an increased risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes). And in one study in particular, participants who started out at a normal weight but drank three diet sodas a day were twice as likely to be overweight or obese eight years later as their non-diet-soda drinking peers.
The question is, why?
It’s important to remember, especially in an observational study, that correlation does not equal causation. So some skeptics are asking if there are additional factors to consider that could explain these sorts of findings.
More research is needed (and is ongoing) to determine the true health impacts of diet soda. In the meantime, researchers have developed several theories that could explain why drinking diet soda could be linked weight gain in some cases:
At this time, these theories for why diet soda may negatively affect weight loss are just that: theories. And while observational studies link diet soda with obesity, it’s not clear whether diet soda is a cause of this.
What does this mean for you? It’s worth considering this information as you decide on your dietary adjustments. Switching from regular soda to diet is certainly a good change if you’re just starting out. Over time, however, consider swapping some of your diet sodas for unsweetened tea or plain old water. It just may be the healthy swap you need to make!
Struggling to lose weight? Still not sure about what sorts of dietary changes you need to make? Schedule an appointment to meet with our team! Right Weight Center is an affordable, physician-directed medical weight loss program. We provide straightforward weight loss solutions that help people achieve their weight loss goals via a custom, tailored health plan. Our team includes board-certified family care physicians, physician assistants, and technicians - all of whom understand the challenges of losing weight and maintaining weight loss. With our custom plans and tools - including Lipotropic injections and natural, proven metabolism boosters - our team can help you stay focused and achieve your weight loss goals, easily and safely.
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