Diet Soda: More Harm Than Good
As research progresses and new information comes to light, what we know about nutrition can change. This is true with newer research concerning diet soda; as a Nutritionist I get asked about this a lot. Is it good for you? Does it help with weight loss? Is it good for Diabetics? After all, you are cutting out the sugar and calories of regular soda, which is what you’re supposed to do to lose weight - right? In this case, right AND wrong.
Diet soda was originally brought to the table as the alternative to help diabetics control their sugar intake and weight loss. However, it is not a nutritious alternative to regular soda. It is essentially a mixture of carbonated water, artificial or natural sweetener, colors, flavors and other food additives.
On the other hand, if you are usually consuming three 12oz regular sodas a day (381 calories and 96 grams of sugar), reducing this to 1 diet soda (while increasing water intake) will create initial weight loss.
But, it’s not that clear cut.
Overall, diet soda does more harm than good for the body. Here’s why:
Diet soda is full of artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners satisfy your sweet tooth without the calories - but that is where the problem lies! Fake sugar teases your body by pretending to give it real food. But when your body doesn't get the things it expects to get, it becomes confused on how to respond.
Your body ends up not knowing how to process real sugar! It doesn’t release the hormone to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. The fake sweet causes the release of insulin (lowering blood sugar) but without actual carbohydrates it cannot regulate and actually causes hunger and cravings for sugar. The end result may be overindulgence of richer foods, your body storing more sugar than it processes, and weight gain.
Of course, the answer to the harms of diet soda is not to drink regular soda.
The average amount of added sugar consumed by Americans is upwards of 77 grams a day! To put it into perspective, men should consume no more than 37.5 grams and women no more than 25 grams a day. One 12 oz regular soda has 32-35g of sugar!
Diet soda, as well as regular soda, should be consumed in moderation, but not every day.
Water should be your main beverage of choice, aiming for 6 to 8, 8 ounce glasses a day. Try swapping diet soda for plain (or naturally infused) water, as an easy way to increase your water intake, while decreasing your soda.