Does diet soda cause weight gain?
A few research studies have found that people who drink artificially sweetened beverages may gain more weight than those who don’t. However, there are many reasons that these trends could have been observed. It could be that those who drink diet soda tend to have poor eating habits. Remember that there are many other lifestyle choices, such as the foods you choose to eat and your physical activity level that also affect your weight.
There is also research being done on the metabolic effects of artificial sweeteners and how our sweet taste receptors interpret them. Some people suspect that using artificial sweeteners can increase your preference for sweets and may increase your appetite. However, this is a new area of research and there is still no clear answer to whether or not artificial sweeteners trigger us to eat more and gain weight.
What we do know is that artificial sweeteners have little-to-no calories and they do not contain carbohydrates. Research has shown that they have the potential to reduce overall calorie intake when used in place of regular sugar. Switching from regular soda (about 140 calories in a 12-ounce portion) to diet soda (zero calories in a 12-ounce portion), can save you a significant amount of calories - especially if you drink more than one soda per day. Of course if you compensate by eating additional food, then you won’t see a calorie deficit.
We recommend avoiding sugary beverages like soda and choosing zero-calorie beverages as much as possible. If you would prefer to stay away from artificial sweeteners and diet drinks, you still have many options including:
- Water (tap, sparkling, or mineral)
- Unsweetened tea (black, green, herbal, iced, or hot)
- Coffee (regular or decaf)
- Water flavored with some freshly squeezed citrus juice
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