Diet Soda Encourages Weight Gain: Truth or Myth?

There is nothing like the sweet fizzy taste that enthrals your mouth when you’re guzzling down a bottle of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. This is why when you visit your favourite fast food restaurant for a bacon and cheese sandwich you order it with a DIET soda – the next best thing and supposedly ‘healthier choice;’ however, what if I told you that diet soda is not a healthier choice?

In fact, studies have shown that it can increase your chances of gaining weight and falling victim to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. Disagree? Well let’s lay down the facts!

Diet Soda and Weight Gain Studies

Let’s admit it. We don’t choose to drink diet soda because it’s ‘yummy.’ It’s a reasonable alternative but not when compared to the real thing. Most of us drink it in hope of losing weight – or at least to avoid gaining it. Yet it seems to do the complete opposite. Luckily, many people today are becoming aware of the high risk involved in consuming excess artificial sweetener aspartame and this lead to a 7% decline in the sale of diet coke in 2013.

Findings brought forth from an investigation conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio revealed that individuals who consume two or more diet soda’s daily are six times more likely to gain weight than those who did not. Sharon Fowler, an epidemiologist at the university stated the subjects gain much more weight than they were likely to gain under normal circumstances after overindulging in the beverage.

To support their findings they referred to Melainie Rogers, a nutritionist in New York with experience in treating obese patients. Miss Rogers supported their findings stating that patients who switch to diet soda did not lose weight but instead gained weight.

So, how does a low calorie beverage cause weight gain? Well, it turns out artificial sweetener aspartame plays a significant role in those incessant stomach growls you can’t seem to quell.

Diet Soda Stimulates Hunger

If you’ve opted out of drinking regular soda and have switched to diet coke in hope of leading a healthier life, you are doing yourself more harm than good. Off course, regular soda won’t help you lose weight but diet soda certainly will not help you to avoid it.

Additives such as Splenda and aspartame(used to sweeten diet soda) are free of calories but not without consequences –reflected by your body in the form of fat. Our bodies link sweetness with calories, thus once it receives a “sweet’ taste it will expect calories to follow. If this caloric craving is not satisfied, it will disrupt your body’s biochemistry and this could eventually lead you to gain weight.

Your brain can tell the difference between authentic and artificial sugars, even if it taste the same to you. Unlike sweet beverages such as fruit juices, diet soda will not provide the calories your brain needs to stop your stomach from growling. Research has shown that aspartame does not satisfy sugar cravings but instead triggers the brain to send messages that you are hungry creating a paradoxical effect that causes you to gain weight.

It does not stop there. Dr David Ludwig, founder of the Children’s Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program, argued that artificial sweeteners could cause your taste buds to revert to an infantile state in his article published in the Journal of American Medical Association entitled ‘Artificial Sweetened Beverages: Cause for Concern.’ In other words by drinking diet soda you are involuntarily training you see your taste buds to behave like that of a three year old.

Increased Risk of Diabetes

We are drinking ourselves into a diabetes epidemic, because diet sodas are free of calories you may believe its ok to consume as much as you want – you’re wrong. Aspartame has been proven to promote metabolic disturbances that can result in higher insulin levels that could increase your chances of becoming a victim of type 2 soda unhealthy

Diabetes is associated with obesity and high sugar consumption. Although some people may argue that artificial sweeteners are the perfect solution for people who are trying to avoid the disease but still satisfy their sweet tooth, findings suggest otherwise. In fact, a research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013 showed that women who consume diet soda are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than those drinking regular soda.

The investigation involved 66,118 female subjects whose drinking habits were monitored for 14 years. The subjects recorded their intakeof natural fruit juice, diet soda and regular soda over the period. However, investigators found that on average the subjects consumed more diet sodas than other beverages – 568ml of diet soda and 328ml of regular soda.

After the study period ended, 1,369 of the subjects who overindulged in beverages with artificial sweeteners were tested and diagnosed with diabetes. Meanwhile, the subjects who drank mostly 100% natural fruit juice did not did not show an increased risk of diabetes at the end of the research.

Studies have also linked diet soda to stroke and heart attack.

Say Goodbye To Diet Soda and Embrace a Healthier You!

Diet soda will only aggravate your appetite and lead you to eat more than you would under other circumstances. Black and green tea are great alternatives for people who crave flavoured drinks. They are free of calories and rich in phytochemicals such as epigallocatechingallate (EGCG), an antioxidant, found in green tea that offers a number of health benefits. They can be purchased at your local supermarket and if you’re trying to cut back on caffeine feel free to purchase a caffeine-free parcel.

In addition to drinking more teas, try to reach for a bottle of water whenever you feel the need to quench your thirst instead of a diet soda. It’s healthier and will keep you hydrated much longer. So try to keep a bottle of water close at all times and every time you think about purchasing a diet soda, look to that bottle for comfort.

About the author

Mary Goforth

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