The Diet Soda Delusion



Diet drinks contain very few calories and no sugar. Therefore, replacing a regular soft drink with a diet soda alternative, sounds like a good idea to reduce your sugar consumption and shift those extra kilos...


Unfortunately, the very opposite is true. The artificial sweeteners that are used in these drinks, instead fuelling our obesity epidemic rather than aiding it. Studies also show that consuming artificial sweeteners put you at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (heart attack and stroke), diabetes and metabolic syndrome.


But why??


The important question to ask, is "do artificial sweeteners increase our insulin levels?"

Insulin, the "fat storing hormone" is one of the biggest causes of weight gain. See my post here on insulin and weight gain for more understanding on this.The crucial point to understand, is not how insulin causes obesity, but that insulin causes obesity.


So do artificial sweeteners increase insulin? The answer is a definite yes. Sucralose (artificial sweetener) raises insulin by 20%, despite the fact it contains no calories or sugar. This insulin raising response has also been shown for other types of sweeteners, such as asparatame and even the 'natural' sweetener stevia. Despite having a minimal effect on 'blood sugar' levels, stevia and asparatame raise insulin higher than table sugar.


With the next biggest thing on the market being stevia we should look at whether it is really that 'natural'. Stevia is extracted from the leaves of stevia rebaudiana. It has 300 times the sweetness of regular sugar and is highly processed. In that regard, it is no more beneficial than sugar itself - a natural compound derived from sugar beets.


Artificial sweeteners may also cause harm by increasing cravings. The brain may perceive an incomplete sense of reward by sensing sweetness without calories, which may then cause overconsumption and increased appetite and cravings.


The bottom line is that these chemicals will not help you lose weight and may actually cause you to gain it. This you may of known already. Do you know anybody at all who said that drinking diet soda made him or her lose weight?


Anybody at all?


If you feel you need something fizzy, try carbonated water with a slice of citrus, cucumber or with some herbs such as mint.


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Nutritionist Cambridge