On the surface, diet soda seems like a good option. It is just as sweet – if not sweeter – than traditional sod, but you will consume far less calories if you opt for diet soda. Regular soda can have anywhere between 140 and 210 calories per can. If you are an avid soda drinker, these numbers can add up very quickly.
Because of this, manufacturers have worked to create zero calorie sweeteners that can replace high calorie sweeteners such as corn syrup and cane sugar. The most common zero calorie alternatives are aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. While using one of these might sound like a great alternative to a high calorie sweetener, this substitution is not without its drawbacks.
Just like sugar, artificial sweeteners will trigger insulin production.
Artificial sweeteners can be even sweeter than natural sweeteners, satisfying your body’s cravings for something sweet. Unfortunately, over time, this can dull your senses to anything less sweet, such as the naturally occurring sweetness of a piece of fruit.
Unfortunately, your body’s reaction to anything sweet, including naturally sweet foods such as fruit and cane sugar, is to increase insulin production. This spike in insulin increases your body’s ability to store excess calories as fat. Because of this, diet soda can actually lead to weight gain even though it is technically a zero calorie substance.
Diet soda can lead to long term weight gain.
Studies have shown that over a 10 year period, those that drink diet soda will, on average, experience a 70% increase in waist size when compared with those that do not drink diet soda. If you only include those that drink at least two diet sodas per day, that number increases to a whopping 500% increase in waist size over a 10 year period when compared with those that do not drink diet soda.
While part of this phenomenon might be caused by the increase in insulin production caused by consuming sweets, it most likely has a psychological component as well. If you know that you are not drinking your calories, you might be likely to splurge on a high calorie food item. Over time, these calories can add up, resulting in a higher daily calorie intake and more weight gain that one would have experience if they had just stuck to regular soda.
Drinking diet soda can increase your risk for long term health problems.
Those that drink diet soda daily have been found to have an increased risk of metabolic syndrome as well as type 2 diabetes. In fact, this group is more than ⅓ more likely to develop one of these health problems than those that do not drink diet soda.
Metabolic syndrome is a complicated collection of symptoms, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood glucose levels. This deadly cocktail comes together to cause an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
The most common artificial sweetener, aspartame, is linked to headaches.
While this will not affect everyone that drinks diet soda, many individuals that suffer from migraines have found that artificial sweeteners can trigger or exacerbate their headaches. If you suffer from frequent, unexplained headaches, you might want to consider cutting back on or eliminating zero calorie sweeteners for a few weeks.
Diet soda has no nutritional value or other health benefits.
It is true that diet soda does not have any nutritional value, but many of the foods we eat on a daily basis are nutritionally void. So why is it such an issue that diet soda is devoid of any key nutrients? The problem arises because many people opt for diet soda instead of water.
While water is also a zero calorie beverage, it is important for many key metabolic processes and cellular functions. Drinking water has many health benefits. For example, it can help to keep your digestive system functioning optimally, keep your skin soft and healthy, and so much more. Diet soda does not have these key properties, making it a poor substitute for water even though they are calorically equivalent. Sparkling water can be a good alternative since it will satisfy your cravings for a fizzy beverage without losing the benefits of drinking water.
Replacing diet soda with water can be a great way to lose weight and improve your overall health. For more tips and tricks to improve your diet and live a happy, healthy life, check out our blog and read more about the weight loss programs offered by A New Me.
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