If you’ve made the switch to diet soda in an attempt to lose weight, you’re not alone. Approximately one-fifth of the U.S. population consumes diet drinks on any given day; however, diet soda, which replaces sugar with artificial sweeteners, may be doing more harm than good. Instead of promoting weight loss, that sweetened no-calorie beverage might be working against you.
Not So Sweet
Artificial sweeteners are really sweet – a lot sweeter than regular sugar. In fact, some artificial sweeteners are hundreds to thousands times sweeter than sugar. When you drink diet soda on a regular basis, you numb your sweet taste buds a bit. This means that foods that are naturally sweet – like fruit – don’t taste that sweet to you, and as a result, they become less satisfying. Instead, you crave really sweet foods like ice cream and candy to get your fix.
Artificial sweeteners may also increase your appetite. A study in the “Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine” reported that it doesn’t matter if you consume sugar or calorie-free sweeteners; either way, taking in that sweet flavor all day long makes it more likely that you’ll consume more calories during the day. Another study in the “American Journal of Public Health” found that overweight and obese adults who regularly drank diet drinks consume 88 to 194 extra calories each day, on average. This may not seem like much, but an extra 200 calories per day translates to a weight gain of 1.7 pounds per month.
There is also evidence that fat tissue contains sweet receptors and when you consistently take in artificial sweeteners, it triggers your body to make new fat cells, which can lead to weight gain. The University of Texas reported that diet soda drinkers have a 70 percent increase in their waist circumference than people who don’t drink soda.
What to Do?
When it comes to quenching your thirst, water is your best bet. It’s okay to treat yourself to a sweetened beverage once in a while, but it shouldn’t be a regular part of your routine. Instead of drinking diet soda every day, keep things interesting by kicking your water up a notch. You can squeeze in some fresh lemon juice – or add some cucumber slices and mint leaves. If carbonation is your thing, swap out flat water for sparkling water with no added sweeteners or artificial ingredients and throw some strawberries or raspberries in the mix.