When speaking to people about weight loss, always the topic of soft drink, soda or pop gets a mention. To avoid confusion in this article I will refer to such drinks as soda.
Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock or you just have rocks in your head, you know that drinking soda will hamper your weight loss efforts.
Fundamentally soda is bad for you (no kidding)! Bad for your teeth, bad for your overall well being and very bad for your weight.
To illustrate the point, an ordinary 355ml can of soda contains 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar! That’s a enormous amount of sugar!
Can you eat that much sugar by choice? The response I expect, would be no. The reality is, we can slam down a can of soda in less than 5 minutes and in doing so are consuming 9 teaspoons of sugar.
Common sense dictates this is an unhealthy practice and when attempting to shed weight and should be avoided at all costs.
Are They Really Bad For You?
So what about diet soda? Could they be consumed when you are trying to lose weight?
As most people would do when trying to answer questions like this, we will ‘Google’ it. Give it a go! I did and got about 2 million search results ranging from diet sodas will make you fat, to diet sodas don’t have any effect at all on weight loss.
So where does that leave the average person who is trying to lose weight? Confused? You Bet!
At a fundamental level they seem benign to our weight loss efforts, after all it has zero calories and sugar. Now, fundamentally weight loss is a very simple equation of a person using more calories than consumed, forcing your body to burn stored energy sources like fat, which causes weight loss.
With regards to how they affect weight loss, theoretically they should be OK since they contain no calories or sugar. Unfortunately not everything is life is that straight forward. When looking at the research it gets even more confusing, as many studies site diet soda as a cause of weight gain whilst others say diet soda will aid weight loss.
Without going into the merits of all these studies (some of which do not even charge their sources), it’s safe to state an argument can be mounted on both sides. It seems, as with a lot of health and fitness related topics, opinions can be divided.
Possibly the Most reputable and persuasive study that I found was from the San Antonio Heart Study, where there was a direct correlation between the amount of diet soda consumed and an increased likelihood of weight gain:
Why is Diet Soda Bad For You?
“On average, for each diet soda our participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese,” said Sharon Fowler, M.P.H., faculty associate in the division of clinical epidemiology in the Health Science Center’s department of medicine.”
What the study doesn’t tell you is why there is a correlation, in reality the causation for your weight gain is unclear.
In attempting to interpret the results Fowler hypothesizes that: “It might be that normal-weight people in our research whose weight had been increasing had switched to diet soda in an effort to stop their weight gain,” she said. “That is a very real possibility. Another is that drinking soda, either regular or diet, is part of a lifelong ‘Obey your thirst’ nutritional routine that sets up someone for weight gain later in life.
But Fowler pointed out if someone is drinking them, he or she’s drinking it to the exclusion of healthier alternatives like water, milk, or juice. “Can you think of one good thing that comes out of a diet soda can for your body? You are giving yourself the taste of nourishment without any at all, so it might be that you seek it from other foods, such as high-calorie desserts,” she said. “Even though you fool your tongue, you don’t fool your mind. It is not satisfied. What our investigations indicate for certain is that drinking them won’t protect a person from the health impacts of the remainder of his or her lifestyle.”
Personally I believe the analysis, which was conducted over a long time period, involved a wide range of participants within the community. These participants bring with them a selection of factors, that weren’t measured by the analysis, which could have influenced their weight gain. Factors like individual health, genetics, wealth, employment, stress and a range of other variables all could have influenced the participants weight gain, not the diet soda alone.
Regardless of the reason, the study still suggests that drinking diet soda leads to weight gain. No! Is it something you should take under account when trying to lose weight? Definitely?
Fundamentally my biggest issue with diet soda is, you do not know what the hell is inside. It tastes fine and is refreshing, but in it’s rawest form it is a bunch of chemicals which have been carefully blended to create a beverage that has absolutely no nutritional value.
Common sense tells us that putting unnatural chemicals in our body on a regular basis is not a healthy practice. Imagine what it is doing to your insides!
My Opinion on Diet Soda
Diet versions of sodas are a better choice if you’re trying to drop weight, however it is still unnatural and studies are showing that, whilst we aren’t certain why, people are still gaining weight intensive diet soda.
Does that mean that a can of diet soda every now and then is going to derail your weight loss plan? No. But what it does mean is, even if you are drinking diet soda everyday, believing that you are choosing the healthier option, you’re mistaken. You’re consuming far too many substances for my liking.
In an ideal world I should be telling you not to drink soda all together. But I won’t. Why? Because I’m not perfect, I still enjoy a social drink and I choose to use diet soda as my mixer. I consider diet soda to be the lesser of the two evils.
What I can say, is I drink diet soda during the day. If you’re drinking diet soda everyday look at cutting back, especially if you’re drinking it to quench your thirst. Choose water instead.