Can sugar free drinks make you fat? Is diet soda just as detrimental to your healthy eating and your fat loss goals as drinks with added sugar? Let's find out...
First off, I'm going to ask you if you can do me a little favor. Can you raise your hand if you believe diet soda is a "healthy" alternative to full-sugar soft drinks?
Yep, that's quite a few hands I see raised in the air.
Here's another question: Hands up if you know somebody, or you've ever heard a stranger talking out loud about how they love to choose sugar free soft drinks.
"I'm on a diet, better get the diet soda." Or my old favorite: "Diet soda is good for you, did you know it has no sugar content at all?"
Here come those hands again. Even more waving at me this time!
Better put them down now though, you look kinda weird sitting there waving your hand at the screen. :-)
Well it might shock you to learn that there is absolutely nothing even remotely healthy about diet soda!
Artificial Sweeteners Can Make You Fat
It might sound crazy, but even though the artificial sweeteners in sugar free drinks have no calorific value (zero calories) there is evidence to show that they cause you to gain weight.
But that's not all. There is good evidence to support the theory that "diet" drinks are even more fattening than those loaded with sugar!
Wait a minute, what the deuce!?
How Your Body Reacts To Artificial Sweeteners
Did you know that the number of calories you eat is actually less important than where your calories are coming from when it comes to weight loss? It's all about your body's hormonal response to the calories you eat.
In the case of diet soda there are no calories, but the chemicals you are drinking trick the body into believing it's eating something sweet.
One of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners is Aspartame (just check your ingredients). This little bad boy will actually prevent your body from producing serotonin (responsible for controlling appetite amongst other things).
And what does your body do when it is suffering from low serotonin levels? It tells your body to go and get some of the foods that it knows will stimulate the release of the chemical.
And guess what, this just happens to be the waistline expanding, high-calorie, carbohydrate-rich, processed "junk" foods that every dieter fears!
So there you have it; sugar free soda is encouraging your cravings for junk food. Bad news.
Your Insulin Response
As strange as this may sound, scientist have gathered evidence that zero-calorie artificial sweeteners stimulate the release of insulin. Insulin causes your cells to absorb blood sugar. Your cells then use this blood sugar for energy.
However, artificial sweeteners contain no sugar (of course). So your body is left feeling tricked with no food to feed your cells. Not to be outdone, if there is no food for your body to process, it had better go out and get some! And of course, this triggers your appetite!
Again you will be experiencing strong junk food cravings as you search for that "quick sugar fix". But as we all know, the quick fix is closely followed by a "crash" and yet more hunger pains and cravings. Not to mention the fact the sugar low leaves you feeling terrible!
Just think about how many time you've told yourself "man, I need a sugar hit". You know that candy bar is bad for you, but you NEED it! Wouldn't you like to get rid of these cravings or control them if you had the chance?
Diet Soda Linked To Obesity?
A study conducted at the University of Texas has proven some very frightening links between drinking diet soft drinks and obesity.
Sharon Fowler and colleagues conducted an 8-year study on the links between soft drink use and weight gain.
"What didn't surprise us was that total soft drink use was linked to overweight and obesity," Fowler tells WebMD. "What was surprising was when we looked at people only drinking diet soft drinks, their risk of obesity was even higher."
The researchers made a shocking discovery when it came to diet soda.
"There was a 41% increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day."
I think the results of this study are very conclusive. It just goes to show that diet soda is not the "healthy" alternative that soft drinks companies would have us believe. If you are serious about your health, and serious about losing weight then you need to leave soda on the shelf.