What’s the best food for weight loss? Is it diet soda?
Artificially sweetened beverages are marketed as weight loss tools. The claim is that they allow us to enjoy the sweetness of regular soda, but without the dreaded weight gain.
It seems logical that switching from a regular coke to a diet coke would be a good weight loss strategy. After all, you’d save about 140 calories per soda. While this makes sense in terms of math, recent research shows that diet soda may not be the best weight loss food after all.
Scientists Question Whether a Diet Soda is the Best Food for Weight Loss
Despite the math, some scientists are highly skeptical that drinking a diet soft drink with artificial sweeteners is the best food for weight loss. In fact, evidence seems is mounting that diet sodas may actually promote weight gain.
Professor Christopher Millett, senior investigator from Imperial’s School of Public Health, is skeptical. He says “A common perception, which may be influenced by industry marketing, is that because ‘diet’ drinks have no sugar, they must be healthier and aid weight loss when used as a substitute for full sugar versions. However we found no solid evidence to support this.”
Research Questioning Whether a Diet Soda is the Best Food for Weight Loss
Here’s a summary of the recent research on diet sodas.
• A new study, published last week in PLOS, tracked users of low-calorie sweeteners in soda for 10 years. It compared them with people who don’t use artificial sugar. It found that the low-calorie sweetener users were heavier, and had larger waist circumferences and more abdominal obesity than the non-users.
• Another study from 2008 looked at the relationship between consumption of artificially sweetened beverages and long-term weight gain in 3,682 people. Drinking diet soda was associated with an almost doubled risk of overweight and obesity.
• A 2015 study in the British Medical Journal analyzed the best available research on the association between sugar-sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened drinks, juices, and Type 2 diabetes. The findings were quite surprising: Regular consumption of sugary drinks, as well as diet drinks, was associated with diabetes.
Why Diet Soda May Not Be the Best Food for Weight Loss
Scientists have some theories about why diet soda may not be the best food for weight loss.
• Maybe after we drink a diet soda we reward ourselves with a high calorie treat, since we were “good.”
• Perhaps there is something about the artificial sweeteners that affects our gut flora. That’s the friendly bacteria in our digestive tracts that helps with metabolism.
• Maybe diet drinks affect sugar cravings. Perhaps the sweet taste, whether real or artificial, boosts appetite and causes us to eat more.
There is also some evidence the diet soda may help with weight loss. So, at this point, the evidence is in conflict.
As a certified nutritionist, my opinion is that diet soda is not the best food for weight loss. Stick to drinking water.
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