A diet soda and a salad might seem like your idea of a light lunch, but that calorie-free drink could actually be helping you to pack on the pounds (or keeping you from losing them). Even if you're replacing high-calorie, high-sugar drinks such as regular soda with diet soda, you may not see any weight-loss success. The artificial sweeteners in diet sodas have a negative impact on your body that can negatively affect your weight-loss efforts. Here's how diet soda can actually lead to weight gain:
Increases Sugar Cravings
Diet soda trains your body to crave sugar. Research has shown that artificial sweeteners taste 200 to 13,000 times more sweet than regular sugar. Once your body becomes used to the taste of artificial sweetener, regular sugar may not be as satisfying. Eating sweet foods and drinks increases the craving for more sweet foods and drinks. Those who drink a lot of diet soda are more likely to eat richer desserts or more sweet foods in order to satisfy that craving, thereby eating more calories, sugar, and fat, leading to weight gain.
Raises Blood Sugar
Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin can increase blood sugar levels, leading to weight issues and more serious conditions like diabetes. High blood sugar can undermine your body's ability to process sugar and lead it to store more fat. Unstable blood sugar levels can also contribute to overeating and to eating a lot of sweet foods and drinks, which contributes to weight gain.
Contributes to Overeating
Animal studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can interfere with brain chemistry. The body tastes sweets, and the brain expects to ingest more calories, but they are not received. Therefore, the brain sends a signal to continue eating to match the caloric intake with the taste signals. The more diet soda or artificial sweeteners that you consume, the more your brain will prompt you to eat in order to make up for those calories. Therefore, you may end up eating far more than you would have if you had drank regular soda or foods with full sugar instead of artificial sweeteners.
The next time you try to offset your burger and fry indulgence with a diet soda, consider indulging for the full meal and drinking a regular soda. Better yet, work on cutting out processed and sugary foods from your diet all together, instead creating a lifestyle change by adopting a whole foods diet and drinking more water. You will lose weight and keep it off in the long run, while also creating a healthier lifestyle and reducing your chances for developing health problems.
Bridget Sandorford is a grant researcher and writer for CulinarySchools.org. Along with her passion for whipping up recipes that incorporate “superfoods”, she recently finished research on culinary schools in nc and culinary schools in indiana .