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Is Diet Soda as bad as Regular Soda?

Posted Jul 15 2013 12:21pm

I used to drink a lot of soda. I loved Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper. None of that diet soda for me.  diet cherry vanilla dr pepper

But then I got the notion to live for a long time and started researching how to do that. The conclusion from that research:

Eat less, exercise more, and keep the weight off

So, in 1994 I switched to diet versions of all the soda I was drinking. My rational for switching was that I could continue to have my soda but also reduce the number of calories I consumed.

At first I hated diet soda. It tastes terrible when you are used to the regular soda. But as with pop songs and annoying friends, you can get used to anything with enough exposure. And after about 4 or 5 months, I didn’t hate diet soda any more. After about a year, I preferred it.

I’ve seen the silly fearmongering about the unhealthiness of artificial sweeteners and haven’t bought into it one bit. FDA approved artificial sweeteners are safe. They just are. They’ve been tested and tested and tested and there continues to be no evidence indicating anything other than a safe product.

So, I didn’t really worry much about drinking diet soda from a health standpoint. It still made sense to me that reducing my overall calorie intake was a good thing. And to tell you the truth, I still believe that.

However, this recent review (and previous studies) have made me reconsider what I believed was a truism. Diet sodas may not be better to have than regular sodas.

The theory is that although diet sodas do not contain any calories, they interfere with your hunger/fullness system. This tricks your body into not recognizing how many calories it has eaten and encourages overconsumption. Essentially, they claim diet sodas make you eat more food.

Proof offered is that diet soda drinkers do not generally weigh less and do not have lowered risk for certain diet related diseases.

It makes sense. But this opinion piece does seem a bit one sided and I’m not certain if all the science has been examined. It’s easy to make a case for your opinion if you ignore the studies that do not agree with it. There are lots of scientists who don’t think the diet soda / weight gain connection is valid. See this review . In fact, the bulk of the science would disagree with the conclusions that the first study came to.

One explanation is that people who eat a lot tend to drink diet sodas because they think they are reducing their calories. The call it the Big Mac & Diet Coke mentality.

I’ve tried to cut down on my soda as I’m unsure about whether it is healthy or not and I don’t like to be dependent on any one type of food. In fact, this year I’ve limited myself to 1 day of soda a month. On that one day I can drink as much as I can drink, otherwise I don’t have any. This is a significant reduction from the one-a-day I was having last year.

The result after half a year: My weight hasn’t changed at all.

So, drinking soda every day or drinking it once a month had zero impact on my weight. Diet colas may have a negative impact on some people but apparantly, I’m not one of them. Maybe I’ll make today my cola day for July. Hmmm

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