Ah, diet soda—the “miracle drink” for those trying to lose weight! Your favorite sodas are still available, in a low- or no-calorie form, taking the guilt out and leaving only the sweet, fizzy taste to enjoy.
But recently, questions have been raised about whether no calories really means no weight gain—and evidence may be leaning toward proving this assumption incorrect. Could diet soda actually be making you fat?
How Diet Soda makes you Fat
The artificial sweeteners in diet soda, most commonly aspartame, are intended as a replacement for all the sugar that would otherwise be sweetening your drink. They do avoid the calories of sugar, but that doesn’t mean it’s a healthy drink. Artificial sweeteners are just that—artificial—and the body isn’t designed to process fake ingredients. We don’t yet understand all the ways in which lab-made substances impact our bodies, but some troubling connections are coming to light.
One of aspartame’s hidden problems is its impact on satiety. It muddles the signals in the brain that let you know when you’re full; without those triggers, you’re more likely to overeat. Some scientists believe that aspartame actually stimulates the appetite causing food cravings, especially for carbohydrates, making it difficult to stick to a healthy eating plan.
Unlike sugar, aspartame is processed in the liver, where it is separated into its different, and potentially toxic, components. This means the liver is too busy for the fat burning it should be doing. With the liver occupied, fat begins to hang out elsewhere in the body, accumulating in all the areas you don’t want it.
Another concern with aspartame-laden diet soda is the habits it can form. It doesn’t have calories, people think, so they can consume as much as they want. But as we’ve just seen, there are other health negatives that can be just as bad (or worse) than the calories from sugar. Other than water, no drink should be consumed in large quantities. Diet soda may not be the sole cause of fat formation, but it frequently signifies an unhealthy lifestyle or misguided diet notions that do generate additional weight.
For some, the lack of calories actually makes people think they are doing good for their body. Instead of an acceptable, occasional treat, diet soda becomes their cure-all, enabling them to eat even more. Since they had the diet soda instead of the regular, they can go ahead and have that piece of cake. Diet soda functions as a gateway for them to add more fat, rather than subtract it.
Zero Calories, but Zero Benefits
Water is the healthiest beverage for your body. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a soda every now and then—just not every day. Whether you drink diet or regular, be aware of the negative impacts on your body. With regular soda, you have the calories from sugar to contend with; diet soda gives you aspartame and other artificial ingredients, potentially leading to weight gain. Make an informed choice, and be aware of what you’re ingesting. Just because it says zero calories doesn’t mean it’s worry-free.