Column: The lack of ‘diet’ in diet soda

Commentary by Cory Black



Could a diet soda actually be hurting your diet? All things being equal, substituting diet soda for regular soda when it comes to your waistline might not be any better overall than a regular soda.

A regular 12-ounce soda has 35 or more grams of sugar that can be harmful to our health with regular consumption. And as a result of supersizing it has led to expanded waistlines and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Substituting sugar-laden drinks with a sugar-free, low- or zero-calorie drink should be a step in the right direction.

But why do some statistics show that people that drink only diet soda are more often overweight than those that drink only regular soda? There are a couple main theories:

  • One possibility is those that are overweight and trying to lose weight are more often consuming diet sodas. Drinking diet sodas may feel like a shortcut and we feel like we can just calorie-splurge elsewhere.
  • The other thought is that over-indulgence in what we think is a free-of-nutrition drink may actually affect the metabolism of our body and even our response to real sugar from real food.

Studies do show that artificial sweeteners may still trigger a response in our body similar to sugar, possibly confusing it, as the sweetness does not come with the normal calories. Some even suggest that all of the consumption of diet soda may even blunt our normal response to sugar, upsetting our normal metabolism and making us feel hungrier in the process.

It really does seem that calorie-free doesn’t really mean it’s free and the best approach in any healthy diet is moderation. Plain water is still the healthiest option for quenching our thirst.