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Bulletin: Diet Sodas Actually Make you Gain Weight

I must admit – I had an unusually odd smirk on my face when I came across this article. The headline drew me in and I felt a slightly overwhelming feeling come over me.

It was one of those ‘Yea, I knew it all along!’ kind of feelings and it made me all warm and tingly inside (I feel kind of weird saying this).

From the moment they were introduced, I knew this stuff was wayyyy too good to be true. I mean seriously – zero calories?! No sugar? What the hell was going on?

But, just like everything else that is beautifully packaged and accompanied by millions of dollars of marketing, people quickly adopted it. In fact, they fell in love with it. Diet sodas sneaked their way into lunchboxes all across North America.

But why?

Did we really think that they were the answer to all of our weight problems? I mean we all know what happens to your body when you drink a coke, so did we perhaps think that this was the healthier alternative?

Perhaps.

Whatever the case may be, I hope this new research study encourages you to lay off the diet sodas for a while forever.

Scientists have discovered that regularly drinking diet sodas WILL increase your waist line over time.

A decade long study of roughly 500 men and women found that:

“Soda drinkers experienced a 70 % greater increase in their waistline than non soda drinkers. Those who consumed two or more diet sodas per day experienced their waistline increase at five times the rate of those who never drank the stuff”

Note that factors such as exercise, smoking, education and social class didn’t play a role – the results still stood.

If this isn’t enough to show you that there is simply no point to drinking this stuff, then I’d have to say you’re just a little bit crazy.

So what is it that makes diet sodas so bad?

Researchers are speculating that artificial sweeteners which are loaded into diet sodas (something has to make up for all those zeros) may throw off your appetite, leaving you craving highly-sweet, unhealthy snacks. Go figure.

Studies also found that artificial sweeteners may damage brain cells that are involved with feelings of fullness. Definitely not something you want to be going for. If your brain can no longer decipher whether you are full or not, you will consistently overeat your way to a larger waistline.

At the end of the day, I don’t think you needed this study to show you that diet sodas aren’t a healthier alternative. Deep inside, we both knew that this stuff was way too good to be true.

It’s time to (wo)man-up and realize that this is not the road you want to go down. Whatever happened to good ol’ H2O?

Getting rid of your waistline starts with getting rid of all the garbage in your fridge.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 31 comments
TroyP - Cube.Dweller.Fitness - July 5, 2011

I can’t help but think of the times I’ve seen people order enough food for 2-3 people, then add a large diet coke. Really!? I mean, REALLY!?

But the research is great to see that the underlying make-up of diet sodas are actually working against losing weight. Water, all the way!

Time for me to go refill the water bottle, again.

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    Test - July 6, 2011

    Thanks for the comment, Troy. I think we’ve all laughed at those ironic moments at some point – “I’d like 2 big macs, large fries, but a diet coke (I’m trying to keep my weight down)” Makes me laugh every time!

    Water will always be the healthiest alternative. Some people claim that it’s simply too plain – if that’s the case, try adding a sprinkle of lemon or lime. The great taste might surprise you!

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Darrin - July 5, 2011

Yeah, I’ve been expecting this one to come out for a while now. When it comes to body composition, you don’t wanna get over-focused on calories and instead focus on the metabolic and hormonal effects they have on your body. I’m with Troy: you can’t go wrong with water!

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    Test - July 6, 2011

    Definitely a great point, Darrin. I can only imagine the metabolic and hormonal effects diet sodas have on our bodies. Hmmm

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Greg - Kinobody Fitness Systems - July 6, 2011

Hey Man!

Great article. I am totally with you man. It amazes me the kind of crap that people put into their body without hesitation. Aspartame, sucralose, BHT, BHA, trans fat………….. Many people understand the negative health effects these chemicals have on their health. However they continue to ingest them daily without thought. They are more concerned with how they look in the mirror than how healthy their bodies are.

Well your article suggests that these chemicals can have a strong impact on how you look in the mirror. Thanks – now I have some ‘asthetic related evidence’ to suggest to my diet pop drinking friends.

Greg O’G

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    Test - July 7, 2011

    Hey Greg, thanks for the comment man. I’ll be honest that’s the one thing I really don’t understand – people KNOW there are negative health effects but they STILL continue to consume it on a regular basis. Something isn’t right there.

    I’m happy to provide that ‘aesthetic related evidence’ you were looking for 🙂

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Alykhan - Fitness Breakout - July 6, 2011

Srdjan,

I’ll admit I have diet soda about once per week during cheat days. I don’t think this is as bad as having it everyday or having multiple per day, just like with any other processed food. I stick with water for the most part.

I wonder if they came out with a diet soda made with a natural zero calorie sweetener like Stevia if people would experience the same harmful effects.

Alykhan

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    Test - July 7, 2011

    Alykhan, having one per week shouldn’t be a problem. However, I think a lot of people aren’t disciplined enough to stick to ONLY one per week – it often progresses to 2,4,5/week until you’re suddenly consuming one every day.

    That’s a good question – I’ll have to do some more research to see if there are any Stevia based ones.

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      Brenda - September 21, 2011

      If someone really misses their soda…. I tricked my kids for years with low sugar juice and bubbly water. 😉 You will still have some sodium with the carbonated water though.. Nothing is ever as perfect as just water.

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        Test - September 22, 2011

        You’re right, nothing is as perfect as water. But kids don’t see it that way unfortunately so some trickery must be in the works to keep them from developing poor habits. You are quite the ninja 😉

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Tatianna - July 7, 2011

Yep, most people are thinking if it’s diet soda, or sugar free soda it’s better. I’ve always known it’s toxic. Thank God, I’ve never had soda. I tried it once and I thought it tasted like poison. This is a very detailed post and I hope more people would start opening their eyes to artificial sweeteners.

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    Test - July 7, 2011

    Hey Tatianna, it seems that a lot of people consider diet sodas as healthier alternatives, but that’s just not the case. I remember trying one a long time ago and absolutely hating it so we’re kind of on the same boat here.

    Thanks for the comment 🙂

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Michael - The Underwear Body - July 8, 2011

……and on top of that they don’t even taste nice! Bad news all round in my book. Wouldn’t touch one with a bargepole, though I used to be addicted to cola as a kid. Thank god my mom was “mean” enough to limit me.

Michael

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    Test - July 11, 2011

    Michael, I think my parents had something to do with it too. Coke was rarely bought so I could never drink it. I think we could all use this technique for things we shouldn’t be consuming.

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Raymond-ZenMyFitness - July 8, 2011

yeah I do drink diet soda usually at time during the week and have done for awhile. I’m no where near overweight so I think the studies have a flaw if I use myself as a example ( albeit sample of 1).
But I do agree in principal they are probably not the best, my only defines is I only drink water and black coffee and that gets boring after a while.
I think when they say people who order diet soda still get fat its not from the soda but everything else they are consuming
Raymond

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    Test - July 11, 2011

    I’m guessing from your comment that you drink one soda per week. Am I right? This study talks about people who consume one or more per DAY.

    Regardless of the fact, I think it’s simply important to be aware of the effects drinking (diet) soda can have on our bodies. If you enjoy having one every now and then I’d say go for it. Just don’t make it a habit 😉

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Sam- Look Like An Athlete - July 10, 2011

Sodas in general are bad. I firmly believe that if more people eliminated ALL sodas we would see more people with a shrinking waistline.

-Sam

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Ahmed-LivingNotSurviving - July 13, 2011

Nice article Srdjan. To me, based off the studies I’ve read, they can indirectly lead to weight gain. That said, if you’ve got enough will power, I don’t believe there is a direct link. Many figure athletes/bodybuilders utilize diet soda as a tool when dieting down to competition BF levels (not that I recommend this).

That said, it is my personal opinion that they are bad for your health, yet I still enjoy them once in a while.

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    Test - July 13, 2011

    You’re right Ahmed, it’s definitely an indirect link. Having a diet soda every now and then won’t do you much harm, but it indirectly leads to binging on unhealthy garbage. If you have the will power to avoid this craving, then go for it; otherwise, it’s better to stay away.

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Ollie - July 14, 2011

Yeah right..even if a zero calorie…it’s still can be true…Anyway thanks for this wonderful post..Such a nice content..:)

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    Test - July 15, 2011

    If it’s too good to be true, it probably is ;). Thanks for the comment Ollie!

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Jeff - July 18, 2011

It’s a very interesting article and I’m very interested in your opinion about stevia sweetened sodas. I use to drink sparkling lemon water. What do you think about it?
In my opinion is a smart way to drink, but I’ve read some articles against these flavoured waters

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    Test - July 19, 2011

    Hey Jeff, very cool question! I’ve heard about Stevia sweetened sodas – I think they’re called Zevia. I’ve never personally tried one but I think that if you can’t get off the diet soda train, then Zevia is your best option. Stevia is a natural herb that has no effect on your blood sugar levels and it’s also a great source of antioxidants. So there are definitely some benefits there.

    I’ve never been a fan of flavored water. I haven’t done enough research on them to know the science behind it, but I’ve always preferred just flavoring my own water. One big glass of water with a quarter of a lemon squeezed in and you got one refreshing drink!

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Ollie - July 18, 2011

Hi there..Thanks for the reply,i really appreciate it….I really wonder, if it’s zero calorie,then why my employer is still big,i mean fat….he can drink 3 or more, 1.5 liter of coke zero….Anyway he said it’s better than with the calorie….Such a very interesting content..Thanks again..^__^

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    Test - July 19, 2011

    Ollie, your employer is not getting fat directly from the zero calorie sodas. Diet and zero-calorie sodas contain artificial sweeteners that distort your appetite and indirectly cause you to binge on unhealthy foods. THIS is what leads to the fat gain.

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Kelly-Fitness Overhaul - July 24, 2011

I never feel good after drinking diet soda. I do drink it sometimes, but I usually feel like I shouldn’t be and then don’t even enjoy it. I am trying to drink more water and have been doing better recently. I struggled with drinking just water my whole life. I drank soda (we call it pop in Pittsburgh) all the time when I was young and it’s a hard habit to break! After being used to all of that sugar, water just seems bland. It’s a struggle, but I know that I need to do it. Thanks for reminding me how bad it is.
-Kelly

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    Test - July 26, 2011

    Kelly it definitely is a hard habit to break but I’m glad to hear you’re on the right track. If there’s a time you really feel like having one, don’t kill yourself for it. Have it, enjoy it and move on. Just remember that it’s the habit you’re trying to avoid.

    Like I mentioned above, adding a bit of lime or lemon to your water really spices it up.

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Ken - April 16, 2012

From what you said above, it is the artificial sweeteners in the diet soda that cause problems. Doesn’t that mean that using artificial sweeteners in other foods and beverages is going to have the same effect? Does adding Splenda to your coffee, tea or your blended smoothies result in the same problem? What about the fact that many protien powders use sucralose to add some sweetness and avoid having them taste like sawdust?

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    Test - April 17, 2012

    Hey Ken. You bring up a very good point. First, it’s important to understand that this is just a study and all we can go by is the numbers (very convincing ones in this case). To answer your question, I would say most definitely. I can’t speak for Splenda specifically (I haven’t done my research on it enough to know), but consuming any artificial sweeteners does appear to have an impact on your appetite, rendering your ability to feel full rather useless. With that being said, I stay away from as many sources of artificial sweeteners as I can. That doesn’t mean it’s completely eliminated (as in the case of protein you brought up). The idea is to eliminate as many sources as possible (at least those that have no nutritional value – like diet sodas).

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JimD - January 17, 2013

I’d like to read the research paper to check how well it controlled for other variables. I drink diet root beer, diluted about 2 to 1, or unsweetened soda water.

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