Home Personal Wellness Will I Lose Weight If I Stop Drinking Diet Soda

Will I Lose Weight If I Stop Drinking Diet Soda

by Annabel Caldwell
Will I Lose Weight If I Stop Drinking Diet Soda

Will I Lose Weight If I Stop Drinking Diet Soda

Most people start drinking diet soda to help lose weight. But you might lose more weight giving it up. A recent study found that older adults who drank diet soda continued to pack on belly fat. Research also found that each daily diet soda increases your chance of becoming obese in the next decade by 65%.

When it’s time for a snack, how many times do you reach for a sugary treat? Or maybe you just grab a can of diet soda instead because it has zero calories and tastes great. You know what else is good for you and helps you lose weight? Water! In fact, water is so beneficial, we’re going to have to stop right there before we get into any other health benefits of water. We’ve got plenty to say about water later on, but first let’s talk about diet sodas. As a matter of fact, one of the best things about diet soda is that they have no calories or carbohydrates! That means you can drink as much as you want without adding extra pounds. Right? Well… not exactly.
In 2010, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center published a paper titled “Relationship Between Use of Non-nutritive Sweetened Soft Drink (Diet Sodas) and Weight Change Over 5 Years” [1]. The results were startling. The researchers tracked 1,000 middle-aged New Yorkers over five years, beginning when they reached age 40. They all had an average BMI of 28 (obese). Half of them consumed less than two servings of non-caloric sweetened soft drinks per week; the other half averaged consuming between three and four servings weekly. At the end of the five year period, those who drank fewer than two servings of non-nutritive sweetened soft drinks gained nearly twice as much body fat as their counterparts who didn’t consume these beverages at all. Why did this happen? It could be due to what Harvard researcher Dr. Frank B. Hu told Live Science back in 2012 [2]:
“The findings are consistent with animal studies suggesting that consumption of high amounts of sugar may increase appetite and decrease energy expenditure.”
So if you thought diet sodas only contain artificial sugars like Splenda or sucralose, think again. Most popular brands contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is basically pure sugar. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why the participants in Columbia University’s study gained excessive weight. Not only was HFCS found in most diet sodas, it was also added to hundreds of processed foods. Now imagine eating nothing but sugar for five years straight. No wonder they ended up gaining excess weight.
Other research conducted around the same time came to similar conclusions. For example, a team from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for eight years starting in 2003. Their findings showed that frequent diet soda drinkers gained nearly double the amount of weight as nondrinkers during the same period [3].
If you’re thinking about quitting your diet soda habit, don’t do it yet. First, keep reading to find out whether diet soda will make you gain more weight.
According to the American Beverage Association (ABA), Americans spent $9.5 billion dollars on diet soda alone in 2009. This number is expected to grow to $13.1 billion dollars by 2014 [4].
How Does Diet Soda Make Me Gain More Weight?
Okay, so now that you know diet sodas contain lots of empty calories, why would anyone choose to drink them over regular sodas? One reason is taste. Since diet sodas don’t contain natural flavors, they also don’t provide any satisfying satisfaction. So you’ll often crave something sweet after having a few sips of your favorite flavorless beverage. Another reason some people prefer diet sodas is that they tend to come in smaller packages than regular sodas. While buying bigger cans saves money, it still adds up to more overall calories. These small containers also encourage mindless snacking throughout the day. And lastly, some people simply enjoy the feeling of being on a fad. After all, diets rarely work.
Now that you understand why diet sodas increase obesity risk, here’s another question: Couldn’t drinking diet soda prevent me from gaining weight? Unfortunately, yes. According to the aforementioned study in 2010, people who drank less than two servings of non-nutritive sweetened soft drinks per week ended up gaining nearly twice the amount of body fat compared to their counterparts who didn’t consume these beverages at all.
There are multiple theories explaining why diet sodas cause weight gain. Some experts believe that our bodies become used to the absence of certain nutrients, causing us to seek out substitutes elsewhere. Others claim that since humans aren’t naturally designed to thrive on diets, we compensate by overeating. However, even though scientists still haven’t figured out the exact mechanism behind weight gain associated with diet sodas, there’s no doubt that they contribute to obesity.
So will diet soda make me obese? It depends on the individual. If you already have a healthy lifestyle, then you should be fine. However, if you struggle with junk food cravings or lack self discipline, you may need to rethink your dieting habits.
[1] JAMA Internal Medicine. Effect Of Nonnutritive Sweetened Soft Drink Consumption On Weight Change Over 5 Years Among Middle-Age Women In Manhattan, NY. October 29th, 2010. Accessed January 17th, 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21219646
[2] Live Science. Study Finds Link Between Soda Intake & Obesity Risk. May 24th, 2012. Accessed January 17th, 2013. http://www.livescience.com/18606-diet-drinks-weight-gain.html
[3] Mayo Clinic Staff. How Much Do Those Diet Cans Cost a Year? April 19th, 2011. Accessed January 17th, 2013. http://www.mayoclinic.org/blog/2011/04/19/how-much-do-those-diet-cans-cost-a-year/index.html
[4] Nielsen Wire News Release. U.S. Spending On Diet Soda Set To Top $10 Billion Per Year By 2015. August 20th, 2009. Accessed January 17th, 2013. http://www.nielsenwire.com/nielsenwire/2009/august/090820_diet_soft_drinks_spending_topping_billion_per_year.html

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