When I was a teenager, I remember my weight-conscious aunt ordering a burger and fries with a diet soda to drink. She winked at me and said, “Every little bit helps.” Makes sense. A can of regular Coke has 138 calories. Why not save those 138 calories by drinking a calorie-free beverage choice?
In fact, as much as the opposite seems true, when you’re trying to lose weight, diet soda is an excellent habit to break. Why? Here are three main reasons:
1) To your body’s chemistry, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose might as well be sugar. They trigger your body into producing insulin just like sugar does. Too much insulin leads to insulin resistance which is arguably the number one hormonal problem that keeps people from losing weight.
2) Like my aunt, you may reason that you skipped 138 calories because you had a diet soda, so you can eat more. Logically, you know that a diet soda is not the way to make up for a second helping of dinner or dessert. But the mind plays tricks on each of us.
3) The sweeteners in diet soda can cause headaches, often of the intense migraine variety. This is especially true of the artificial sweetener known as aspartame, sold in the US under the brand name NutraSweet.
There are studies in the scientific literature linking soda drinking to dental problems, heart problems, depression, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and more. Not all of the research is totally conclusive, but there is enough scientific evidence to suspect that diet soda is not the best, most obvious beverage choice that many dieters assume it is.
If you’re looking for a non-calorie beverage that has none of the side effects of diet soda, water is definitely the way to go. Instead of compromising your health and weight loss efforts, every bit of water you drink will help them along. And if it’s the bubbles you miss, try replacing your diet soda habit with sparkling water.
Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon. You can find her on Google+ or at email@example.com.