Diet Soft drinks – good for Weight Loss and diets?

Diet or sugar-free drinks are very popular with people looking to lose weight and to avoid taking in all that extra sugar from just a drink, for reducing calories or just avoiding sugar altogether. All the most popular brands of soft drinks now include a light or sugar-free version. These drinks first came about to target people suffering from diabetes, but very quickly these became a focus point for those looking to lose weight and take in less calories or sugar.

In diet drinks, Artificial sweeteners are used instead of sugar, these could include;

  1. Aspartame
  2. Cyclamate
  3. Saccharin
  4. Sucralose

Some diet sodas use natural or herbal sweeteners such as Stevia.  

These may be without sugar or calories, but the health effects of these drinks including of artificial sweeteners are sometimes controversial.

Diet drinks and Weight Loss

These drinks may indeed be Calorie free, and this may be perceived as ideal for a weight loss diet, but some studies show that consuming high amount of diet drinks can be associated with a higher risk of becoming obese.

These diet drinks tend to stimulate your appetite, helping you to eat more and more, by contributing to an increased level of hormones associated with hunger and by affecting dopamine receptors in the brain.

As these diet drinks have no calories in themselves, you may then start to consume high calorie rich foods and therefore gain more weight. This is not a black or white situation, studies in this area are at times conflicting.

Link between Diet drinks and Diabetes and Cardio vascular conditions

Even with no calories or fat, certain studies show a link between diet drinks consumption and developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease including high blood pressure. Of course the risk of developing these conditions if consuming the regular sweetened sodas is a lot higher than when switching to the diet version.

The difficulty in assessing these effects is that the people involved in these studies will have their own eating and lifestyle habits, that in themselves will be a factor in whether then these diet drinks do cause any of these effects or not. That is separating diet drinks and assessing these drinks and observing their effects independently is not always straight forward.

Diet drinks and your kidneys

Your Kidneys function to filter and regulate fluid and acid-base in your blood, clearing toxins and helping to regulate absorption of glucose, blood pressure and hormone production. These diet drinks could contribute to developing kidney disease when consuming large amounts regularly, such as by consuming 1 large glass per day of diet drink. The diet drinks that contain a high phosphorus amount, are the ones that could more likely cause kidney damage in the long term, with the acidic nature of the phosphorus they may contain.  

That said, people that regularly consume diet drinks, generally also have other bad habits that could affect their health, therefore again this is hard to assess whether the diet drink is really contributing to this damage.

Regular sweetened drinks consumption for instance tends to increase the chance of developing kidney stones, but this likelihood is much less for diet drinks.

Diet Drinks and their artificial sweeteners can negatively change the gut micro-environment, which could lead to poorer blood sugar control, which could contribute to developing type 2 diabetes.

Diet Drinks could increase the risk of developing osteoporosis and weakening of the bones, through losing bone density. This is more common in women and usually caused by the phosphorus and the caffeine in diet drinks affecting Calcium absorption.

Diet Drinks also affect your teeth and can contribute to decay, through erosion through the acidic level of the diet or regular drink.

For those who drink 5 ore more diet drinks per day there may be a risk of depression related issues.

Research in Diet drinks and their effects is contradictory and generally far from conclusive. However we can conclude that diet drinks have no nutritional value, and give no contribution to your Weight loss diet apart from maybe helping you avoid the sweetened version of the drink.

Try replacing your diet drink with some of the following Healthy options:

An important part of your weight loss program is to start choosing healthy options over less healthy options, and this is good example from where to start from. Choosing one of the healthier alternatives below over diet or full sugar soft drinks will be a good start, and will help you regain control over your health and weight.

  1. Herbal or Green tea
  2. Water (or sparkling water if your prefer)
  3. Water infused with ginger, mint, lemon or other fruits to add different flavour and health benefits
  4. Coffee
  5. Milk
  6. Raw vegetable and fruit Juices

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