A Dietitian's Take on Diet Soda

By now we know that diet soda is not the healthy solution to sugary beverages like we once hoped. But just how bad is diet soda for you? Here’s my hot take on diet soda and whether you should cut out the cans completely.

Why You Should Avoid Artificial Sweeteners 

The promise of diet sodas being a healthier option falls flat when you look at the science. Here’s the rundown on diet soda and its artificial sweeteners.

Diet Soda Can Crank Up Calorie Consumption

Some research shows that diet soda makes you crave more sugar and makes you more hungry. In fact, the additives and artificial ingredients in diet soda are full of unnatural chemicals that can cause your body to crave more high-calorie and sugar-laden foods. 

One study claims that drinking diet soda won’t help you cut back on calories. Instead, diet soda drinkers compensate for the lower-calorie cola by choosing more unhealthy food, and ultimately eating more calories than they think.

Diet Soda May Mess With Your Metabolism

Artificial sweeteners can boost hunger. Because of this, some studies suggest that regular consumption of diet soda is associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a mix of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and weight gain. 

These health issues can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. However, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between diet soda and these health issues.

Diet Soda Might Hinder Gut Health

Artificial sweeteners can impact your gut health for the worse—specifically, they can disrupt your gut microbiome, which is the community of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract. 

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in maintaining your overall health. It’s critical for healthy digestion, nutrient absorption, heart health, immunity, and mental health. 

Some small studies show that artificial sweeteners can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, leading to a reduction in beneficial bacteria and an increase in harmful bacteria. Others have linked artificial sweeteners to an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). But more research is needed to fully understand diet soda’s effect on our guts.

Diet Soda Can Make You Feel Crappy

After a few servings of diet soda, you probably won’t feel your best. Certain artificial sweeteners found in diet soda, like aspartame, can leave you with physical and mental side effects. Some people may experience headaches, migraines, and irritability.

The Dose Makes the Poison

When it comes to diet sodas or anything with artificial sweeteners, I believe the dose makes the poison. If you’re drinking three or four diet sodas a day, that’s not ideal. Water should be your main source of hydration, and there are plenty of healthy beverages to choose from that aren’t packed with additives and artificial ingredients. 

Anything in moderation is ok in my book. Understanding the effects of artificial sweeteners on your health can help you make an informed decision about drinking diet soda regularly, or at all.

Swap Your Soda for Something Better 

Consider switching out what you sip on. These beverages are far better for you than diet soda.

  • Water: Of course, most of what you drink should be water. Drinking enough water increases your metabolism, delays muscle fatigue during a workout, boosts energy levels, aids in digestion, improves mental health, hydrates your skin, and flushes out your liver and kidneys. It’s the super beverage we all need every day. 

  • Electrolyte Water: We need to consume electrolytes daily to function. If your body doesn’t have enough electrolytes, your nerves won’t work properly, which can lead to problems with your heart, blood pressure, and breathing. Blood clotting, muscle contractions, balance, and fluid regulation can all be impaired if your body lacks the electrolytes it needs. Adding an electrolyte powder to your water will crank up the flavor. It’ll also give you that nutrient boost to make you feel your best, especially if you’re an intermittent faster, like me. 

  • Coconut Water: Try out this tropical drink, which has nearly five times the electrolytes as Gatorade. Coconut water is 94% water, so it’s nearly as hydrating as plain water. It’s full of antioxidants, can improve blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, and even help prevent kidney stones. This beverage is incredibly rejuvenating, especially if you’ve had one too many alcoholic drinks. Just make sure to look at the ingredients and pick a brand that’s made without added sugar, sweeteners, or flavors. 

  • Sparkling Water: If you can’t break the habit of drinking something bubbly, you’ve got so many sudsy options. Perrier, Pellegrino, LaCroix, Polar—the brands and flavors are plentiful. Check for added sugar on the ingredient list. Add a splash of 100% fruit juice if you need to increase the sweetness. 

  • Kombucha: This flavorful fermented beverage is naturally packed with probiotics. It’ll help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in your gut, improve your gut health, and aid in better digestion. Look for brands that use phrases like “naturally fermented” to make sure you’re getting kombucha that’s minimally processed. 

  • Green Tea: This ancient drink has a host of health benefits, including reducing the risk of several types of cancer. It can protect your body from free radicals and play a role in slowing down the aging process. Plus, it has lower caffeine than coffee, so you can get a pick-me-up without the jitters and headaches of java. Try it hot or iced. Add honey or mint. Or try matcha for more potent flavor and health benefits.

  • Naturally Sweetened Diet Soda: Stevia and monk fruit are two natural calorie-free sweeteners that are far healthier than aspartame. If you can’t do without your diet soda, try switching to a beverage like Zevia!

So, Do I Drink Diet Soda?

Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Mine is Sunkist. But there’s something deeply empowering about knowing all the health facts and still enjoying everything in moderation. 

Taking care of my body makes me feel amazing, so it’s not a punishment to swap out soda for something healthier. When I decide to indulge in a diet soda, I can do it guilt-free. 

Want to feel empowered, educated, and guilt-free around food, and lose weight too? You’ll love LEAN! I’ll personally teach you, over seven weeks, exactly how to lose weight, keep it off, and enjoy your entire health journey. Sign up for LEAN today to guarantee a healthy future.

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