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Are Diet Soft Drinks Really A Better Alternative?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When you decide it's time to make a change to your diet, one of the first things a lot of people do is switch out the regular soda for diet. It saves on calories and sugar, and can still give you the caffeine boost and beverage variety you're looking for. But some recent studies say that diet drinks might not be much better for your health.

A 2007 study from Boston University found that both sugar sodas and diet drinks boost the risk of metabolic syndrome- a collection of risk factors that increase your risk of health problems like heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Another study, published in the journal Circulation, found the risk of developing metabolic syndrome was 34 percent higher among those who drank one can of diet soda a day compared with those who drank none. Keep in mind that these studies show an association between diet soda and metabolic syndrome. They don't necessarily say that drinking diet soda will lead you to develop the condition.

One theory suggests that artificial sweeteners may lead to increased food intake because they alter our sense of taste and interfere with the body's ability to properly assess how many calories are in foods. Therefore, you end up eating more- and we know that overweight and obesity are risk factors for developing metabolic syndrome.

I think switching from regular soda to diet is a good way to slowly wean yourself off of these kinds of drinks. But ideally, I think it's a good idea to ditch the soda completely. (Sorry, all of you Diet Coke lovers!) If the idea of drinking water bores you, try adding a slice of fruit or sample some of the sparkling, mineral or fruit-flavored varieties on the market today.

What do you think? Are you a diet soda drinker? Have you noticed whether or not it affects your hunger level and how much you're eating? Have you considered giving it up, or are you happy as you are?

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KHALIA2 12/28/2018
I don't drink diet drinks. Report
KHALIA2 10/7/2018
I don't drink diet drinks. But I love my water! Report
NELLJONES 6/14/2018
I drink diet drinks, it has helped me lose and keep the weight off for 47 years. Why argue with what works? Report
KHALIA2 5/26/2018
So glad that I don't like diet drinks. Report
Thanks, I had to learn the hard way! Report
"One theory suggests that artificial sweeteners may lead to increased food intake because they alter our sense of taste and interfere with the body's ability to properly assess how many calories are in foods."

One INCORRECT, fallacious, totally unsubstantiated, debunked "theory".
Never was allowed to have soda growing up - when I tried it in my late teens it was too sweet. And along came Fresca and Tab - saccharine and all. I've never indulged much but I like it cold and fizzy at times and nothing else will do - moderation in this as in everything makes all the difference. Now, coffee - I am addicted to that and I drink it fresh, hot and black. Trust me, you want me to caffeinate before leaving the house. Otherwise the word ugly is not strong enough. Report
I've been drinking lots of diet soda for years. Just lost over 37 kgs while drinking it on a regular basis, so blaming diet drinks for weight gain or failed loss doesn't cut it with me. A very thorough exam post weight loss proves that I'm probably healthier than 95% of people out there so I'm not really worried and I won't be until there is actual evidence that it is bad for you. So far they have found no reason to even limit your intake of most sweeteners. Do I listen to a bunch of scientists or the Internet. Hmmm, I'll take the scientists every time. Report
i used to drink a lot of diet coke, but have substituted sparkling water for my drink (used to like beer, but have given this up, too). I still get the carbonation without the negative consequences of the other ingredients in soda. Report
The acidity of all carbonated drinks can lead to bone deterioration. Both sugar and artificial sweeteners are bad for the body as well. Therefore, there's not really a winning option as there aren't any healthy benefits to either option. In the end, if you want to keep soda in your diet, moderation is key. Report
I think for those who need that carbonation that they like so much, diet is better than full sugar. Obviously, it's toxic to the body but I personally would rather not drink my calories. But if I REALLY want a Dr. Pepper, diet Dr. P does the trick! Report
By the way- diet soda is a moot point for me personally because I don't like the taste of the artificial sweeteners (or corn syrup or stevia....). But I used to keep real coca cola on hand for medicinal purposes. Just 6 ounces of the real thing (made with real sugar, sucrose or corn syrup) would cut the awful nausea from bad sinus headaches that otherwise would go on for at least six hours (the headaches lasted one or two days, but the six hours of nausea was of the "kill me now" variety). My aunt (a registered nurse) told me about this trick- like me, she wasn't a cola fan, but after surgery she had chronic nausea so bad that she couldn't even look at pictures of food. Someone suggested coca cola and it worked right away. I think the combination of phosphoric acid and real sugar plus real cola extract is key, since I saw the same ingredients in some old-timey cola syrup remedy. If headache is involved, the caffeine can help with that also. I've heard that caffeine can be useful in heading off asthma attacks also for some people (coffee will work).

Anyway, diet cola doesn't seem to have the same nausea-killing effect as far as I know. Report
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you wonder if the diet soda is causing problems, just quit for a while and see if you feel better. If you feel the same, no problem. But do be careful about carbonated beverages- even if calorie-free, they are very acidic and that makes a friendly environment for cavity-producing bacteria even if it doesn't feed them. The acid softens your teeth and so you should wait at least 30 minutes for them to harden up again before brushing. Not a bad idea to drink water afterward and avoid slow sipping since that increases contact time between teeth and acid. (Same cautions about non-carbonated acidic drinks.) A little xylitol (birch sugar) after the drink (or after any food also) will help bring your mouth back to neutrality but won't feed the bacteria. Just 1/4 tsp granulated xylitol or a little xylitol-only mint or gum will do it. Google "Dr. Ellie" plus xylitol for more info. The therapeutic dose of xylitol for oral health is just 6-10 grams spread out over the day (total 1.5 tsp or a few mints or pieces of gum). Xylitol is much better tolerated than other sugar alcohols so few people are likely to have problems with it at that dose (keep away from dogs and cats, though). Report
"Consuming any artificial sweeteners actually does lead to overeating. Open your eyes...most people you see drinking diet sodas are overweight."

Yup, saw it the last time at McDonalds, an over-weight person ordered a double 1/4 pound, a super-sized fry and a diet coke. ROFL!!! It must be that diet coke!!! LOL!! Report
I loved diet coke but for me drinking it made me crave something sweet to go with it. When I stopped buying it at the grocery store, I'd still end up stopping at a convenience store every day to buy a bottle, and since I knew I'd want something sweet with it, I'd also buy a candy bar. For me, giving up the diet coke also meant no more candy, so that was the answer for me. Report
I love my diet coke and will not give it up. I have added sparkling mineral water to my diet. Diet sodas are not high sodium anymore, this isn't the 70's. The brussel sprouts I ate last night had about the same amount of sodium as a diet soda. Report
I love my Diet Coke and have it 4-5 every week. I love my water too! I am working on some far more important healthy changes (like eating more veggies and moving more) in my life and giving up diet coke is just not a priority. I am a firm believer that moderation is the key to success. Report
I don't drink soda, period. People use cola to remove rust from metal. It does a pretty good job of it. Just imagine what it does to your insides. Water is nature's hydrator, fills you up without making you sick. Folks who say they 'hate water' are not giving it a chance and/or are addicted to soda. Report
I don't drink Diet Soda for several reasons:
- I find that drinking them makes me crave sweets.
- I don't like their taste/aftertaste
- I avoid Aspartame because it is a potential trigger for migraines
Mostly, I drink water or tea, but every now and then I treat myself to a regular soda. Report
In response to the correlation between diet soda and strokes, diet drinks have more sodium than regular soda (you're just switching one bad thing for another unfortunately), so they can contribute to high blood pressure if you drink too much of them. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is the number one cause of a stroke. If you love your diet soda, make sure you keep an eye on your blood pressure and drink plenty of other fluids like water. Report
I don't drink, I don't smoke, been with the same man for 24 years, count my calories, limit sweets and exercise nearly every day. Diet Coke is my only vice, and you'll get that can of icy goodness away from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hand. Report
I have lost 115 pounds so far drinking diet coke most days. I find just the opposite. It helps me not to be as hungry. Report
Consuming any artificial sweeteners actually does lead to overeating. Open your eyes...most people you see drinking diet sodas are overweight. Take a look at what fit people drink most of the time. Water, water, water.

Furthermore, did you know that not drinking enough water, which leads to dehydration, can cause a number of other issues in a day? Headaches, for one. Most daily fatigue is caused by dehydration as well. Fatigue leads to impaired decision making, including overeating.

Avoid flavored waters, Crystal Light (unless it's Natural), and diet sodas. If you absolutely must have a soda, drink a regular and only have one rarely...very rarely. Juice is also one to watch as many juices have as much or more sugar in than soda.

Since I've eliminated artificial sweeteners from my life, I've lost 24 pounds and I naturally eat less. No, I don't starve myself or deprive myself of a specific food group. I just eat less. Report
Seems every week they are coming up with more things that are "good" or "bad" for you. Bottom line? I seriously doubt that drinking 1 can of Diet Coke a day is going to lead to overeating. Report
I was a Diet Pepsi/Diet Coke NUT. When we went out to eat, I'd go through at least three or four refills. I'm four days "clean", though, and feel so much better. I've been drinking a lot of ice cold water and a little bit of a local company's Diet Iced Tea (though I know I should dump that, too -- baby steps?) Report
My mother drank diet coke like crazy once she gave up alcohol. She was thin and practiced yoga and ate well, but drank diet coke non stop. There may be other things at play, but she ended up having multiple strokes. She is now addicted to crystal light lemonade which too has artificial sweeteners. I wish she would just drink water! I ingest very few artificial sweeteners as a result. Report
I know I'm late but I just happened to stumble across this article and well this was the first time I heard mention increase chance of stroke in regards to drinking diet coke and it's kind of ironic that back in 2009 my aunt passed away due to a stroke! She was always a tiny thing but always had a diet coke in her hand - I think she went through about 4 or 5 12 pk cans per week, seriously .... never crossed my mind until I just read this article ... very interesting! Report
I used to drink 2 or 3 cans of diet pepsi a day but when I started to eat clean 2 months ago , I quit drinking soda . instead of soda I drink fresh orange juice or water.My son always reminding me when we dining out to not order pepsi. Report
At the start of my weight loss in 2010, I quit Diet Coke at doctors suggestion.
Hardest thing I did. I was very addicted. Stayed off for 8 months. gradually started a sip from one small bottle a week. Then a whole bottle, two, before long I was buying my favorite cans in the case and up to 3, 4 cans a day. I am trying to limit my use to one a day. But it's hard. I love Diet Coke. It's my only vice. Report
I quit diet soda a month ago due to a health scare. I'm trying to avoid artificial sweetners, and artificial anything that I can. My lymph nodes on one side of my neck were removed due to inflammation that the Dr was quite sure was cancer but thankfully was not. I only drank 1 or 2 diet sodas a day. I'm struggling to replace that bubbly sweet flavor. I drink my water but I miss my soda so much. Sometimes I just need the flavor and have drank juice or an occassional regular soda. That's too many calories but I'm trying to change this craving. Flavored waters get you back to the artificial thing. The best substitutes I have found is lemon juice in water or to drink hot or cold tea. Natural tea in a can get's you back into the too many calories again as most are sweetend. The hard truth is that neither type of soda is any good for a person. "Occasional" unhealthy choices for me is a very slippery slope. I realize I need to accept that I need to give up unhealthy foods, forget about it, and move on to healthier choices. I'm just trying to eat cleaner. The choices you make do effect your health. You can try to fool yourself but your body will know the truth. Report
After constantly hearing about how Diet Coke was killing me in 300 different ways, I gave it up for almost 2 months. The result: mega increase in number and intensity of migraines, zero weight loss, no "feeling better." I drink 1 Diet Coke most days, sometimes 2. I'm sure that if you drink a 12 pack per day, it's going to affect you negatively, but a moderate amount per week isn't going to do a thing. Report
I try not to overdo it, but I drink Diet Coke because it tastes good. Would I restrict myself if I thought that Coke was tastier? Probably, because those calories could be going to steak, or lasagna, or any number of wonderful things. I have "quit" diet coke a couple of times, but it comes back into my life because it just tastes better than most. I know it's an unhealthy habit, but I'm fit, healthy, I don't drink or smoke... so -- as my doctor said -- one measly-little aspartame-filled vice is probably not the end of the world. Report
I am off diet coke for over two weeks now...I love soda and switched to diet a few years ago to save the calories. Then I just had an aquaintance who got VERY ill---mysterious back pain, fever, recurring bladder infections, they just diagnosed here with aspertame poisoning---she was drinking any where from 2-5 cans of diet soda a day along with any other diet foods she may have been having---she had successfully lost over 60 pounds and used diet soda and sugar substitutes as an aide in doing so. I want to lose weight, but the reason I do is to be as healthy as I can be...I don't want to get sick on the way there!!! Report
I am cutting diet soda down but i still drink at least one or two cans a day. But i don't feel like i need to eat more because of it but i do think that everything needs to be in moderation. Report
I'm really not a diet soda drinker. I have been drinking tea and water. I'm trying to lover my sugar intake. I will share this article with a few friends. Report
I think this is where hte "all things in moderation" comes into play. I think anybody who tells you to completely cut anything out of your diet is living in a fantasy world that people with only a mild-moderate amount of discipline cannot adhere to. I never got into Diet Sodas. Only time i drink Diet Coke is with my Captain. And at that point, there is a pretty sure bet my "diet" is going to go out the window for the night anyway. But I still allow myself 7-10 oz of regular coke everyday. That way I'm still getting my "fix" but i'm not going haynuts on calories or sugar. Report
I have decided to pass on diet drinks for my health, and to get through the trigger time of 4pm I mix seltzer water with MIO and that has helped me soo much! I get the fuul feeling of the carbonated water and am happy. Give it a try! Report
I love my diet Pepsi or diet coke and I'm one who is NOT giving it up! I eat fairly healthy, exercise daily and am at a healthy weight. I'm 44 and it's my one vice I'm not willing to give up. I have 3 young kids and I personally think life is stressful....but enjoyable too! So it's like my "treat"! It has 0 calories so it's not hurting my calorie intake and it doesn't make me eat more. If anything, I think I eat less. If I get a large pop at McD's in the afternoon, it seems to fill me up when otherwise I might be looking around for an unhealthy snack (that has calories of course)! So this is one treat I am not stopping and I don't feel guilty about either. I do try and get my water intake in throughout the day as well though. Report
I still drink an occasional diet soda, but I usually drink iced herb tea, unsweetened. It actually tastes much better than soda. Report
For many years I drank 3-4 Diet Cokes a day. But as I am making changes in my life I'm limiting myself to one Diet Coke a week. We eat out for breakfast on Sunday and I enjoy my DC treat. I did notice that my craving for sugary items is much lower since giving up DC. I drink water and unsweet tea now. I'm sure that drive-thru by my house is wondering why they have so much DC in stock! Report
I generally choose not to drink soda every day. I will avoid any soft drink with aspertame ( Pepsi, Coke, Dr Pepper/7UP brands) or sacharin (Tab soda). These brands seems to leave an aftertaste after drink them. RC/ Dite Rite offers a diet soda line with sucrolose which is tolerable to me. I will choose a small regular soft drink, juice, or water as preferable to any diet Pepsi, diet Coke, or diet Dr Pepper. Report
I really enjoy diet Coke or Pepsi; however, because of I don't tolerate caffeine easily, I only drink them with lunch or dinner. If I drink w/o food, I get headaches so I don't. I do not feel I eat more when I drink DC or DP. Sparkling drinks are a great alternative. Lipton makes an excellent Sparkling Diet Tea Strawberry & Kiwi. Gives me the bubbly w/o the caffeine & I can drink whenever w/o a headache...& I don't overeat because of it. It's all a matter of will power. Report
I don't understand the difference in drinking diet soda or the flavored waters or Crystal Light that are suggested in previous comments. They all contain artificial sweeteners, and is that not the problem? It seems that they would cause the same cravings as diet soda. I gave up caffeine back in the summer, and drank an occasional Sprite Zero, 2-3 per week. I really couldn't tell a difference. I am now drinking DC again but am ready to get back on my healthy eating plan and exercise, and I guess I will just drink water and unsweet tea. I have also seen conflicting views about caffeine. I'm confused. Report
I dont like diet drinks as there is something in them that gives me a headache and coke pepsi etc give me the runs Report
I just heard a recent study that says diet sodas can cause a stroke risk increase of thanks. Report
I never have any artificial sweeteners, they are so bad for you. I have raw sugar or raw honey if I need it. Report
I have definitely noticed that when I drink soda, it causes me to crave...I drink DIET only! I know that when I don't want to crave, as much as I love soda, if I lay off, it will help me reduce cravings.
I do not find that diet soft drinks make me crave sweets. I use it to stop eating food. I do think it may affect fluid retention and perhaps your body's availability to absorb nutrients. I am trying to cut back, Report
I keep reading how bad diet soda is (anything with artificial sweeteners for that matter), and wish I didn't drink it but I figure slow changes are better than nothing. I try to cut back, and eventually, I hope to kick the soda addiction entirely. Report
I drink a few diet soft drinks per week. Report