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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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Say it ain't so. Just went I go over my code red addiction and turn to diet pepsi here comes this blog. But I have upped my water intake so hopefully I'm not doing to much damage. Report
Just like everything else in life, MODERATION is key! Diet soda, regular soda, fatty foods... If you drink ONE diet soda once in a while, the effects will be minimal, but if that is all the liquid you consume, you will probably run into some problems. Its important to stay hydrated, and soda does the opposite, but if you want one, have one... not five. Report
I've been drinking diet soda all my life. Same with my parents. I actually find the opposite of what this article is trying to say - I drink soda at night when I know I should stop snacking on food, because it keeps me from eating more. I've switched to caffeine-free and I only drink about a can a day (if that), but since it doesn't interfere with my eating habits, I'll never give it up completely. Report
What I found for me is that eating low fat items (processed) I want more they do not satisfy my craving. So I choose to eat regular food but less of it. Report
I can take or leave sodas. I drink a lot of coffee and water. When I drink soda, if possible I mix 1/2 and 1/2 reg and diet. Dont use a lot of artifical sweetners (mostly light yougart). My choice of sweetner is honey. I don't know whats ok, good, or the best choice. Report
Almost everything I buy is fat free or sugar free and because of this sugar substitutes are in everything I eat...even the yogurt I'm eating right now.
I wouldn't say it makes me want to eat more; though I buy these lower calorie options so I can eat more while still staying in my calorie ranges (because I know I'm going to want to eat a lot whether or not it's sugar free).

I drink lots of water everyday, but I love Diet Coke. It is a weakness. Some times, if I feel like overeating a lot or feel a binge coming on, I will run out and drink a ton of Diet Coke, because the carbonation really makes me feel full.

I can't tell if diet soft drinks are bad or not. If it has anything to do with artificial sweeteners, what about the risks associated with all the low-cal, sugar free food out there? Report
It drives me crazy when I hear people talk about "not enough scientific evidence" when it comes to proving whether we should be eating a particular food (or non food). There are some people who will never be satisfied with ANY study regarding something they like to eat or drink (or smoke or whatever....!) Look how long it took for studies to finally PROVE how bad smoking is for everyone, that it will DEFINITELY kill you. Over 50 years? Long long before that there were studies that "hinted" at the fact, people dying all over the place, but the almightly tobacco companies fought and fought to keep the public addicted and unaware so that they could help us with their wonderful product? NO WAY! If we stopped smoking they wouldn't make any $$$$. What is the difference between diet coke manufacturers and tobacco companies? Does Pepsi Co. want us to have more friends and a better life? No. Does Pepsi Co. know there are studies out there showing a problem with too much sugar intake, and a "potential" problem with artificial sweeteners and other ingredients? Yes. Are they doing anything about it? No. Bottom line: if your body doesn't recognize what you put in it then there are potential problems....your body wasn't meant to ingest chemicals not just every day but EVER. Don't sit back and wait for some huge company that doesn't have your interests at heart to dictate what you should be eating and drinking. Give them the middle finger and take care of yourself!!!! We all know deep down how bad this junk is for us, and it's hard to reverse the brainwashing we've all been through over the years, but it can be done and BY GOD IT FEELS SO GOOD!!!!!! Report
I drink water about 75% of the time. I may have a DC two or three times a week. Instead of DC, I'll drink tea to change things up a bit. Overall I do pretty good in this area but have work to do in other areas. Ugh - always something! Report
I have been a Diet Coke drinker all my life. However, now that I am eating healthier, I am trying to drink more water. So...I let myself have as much DC as I want, but ONLY after drinking all my water for the day. That way, I really taste it and enjoy it as a treat. Besides, after 8 glasses of water, I usually don't want any coke! Report
Have really cut back to 1 or 2 per day .... drink water most all day ... used to drink 4 or 5 a day .... water is definitely healthier above and beyond other drinks. Report
I quit drinking soda (here in Minnesota we call it pop) over 6 years ago. I was having a lot of trouble with tooth sensitivity and that's when I learned how bad soda is for your teeth. Then I read something about how diet soda can change it's chemical composition when it gets too warm, such as leaving it in the trunk of your car when it's hot out. Some ingredient in the diet soda actually can cause poisoning when it gets over-heated. Quitting wasn't easy, the headaches and cravings, but I'm so glad I did it! I don't miss it at all. Report
I rarely drink soda. I don't feel that sugar subsitutes are healthy. I also feel that soda of any kind is hard on my teeth and bones. Water, herb tea are my standby. I will have a couple of cups of coffee in the morning. Report
I was addicted to diet coke and am now down to about one a week, and sometimes not that. An occassional glass of diet coke won't hurt much in my opinion, but I do believe that the artificial sweeteners in it will and so many other "diet" foods does. I try to keep it to stevia for my tea and coffee and that's about it. Report
I am working on drinking fewer Diet Cokes and more water. I just don't like the taste of plain water, and most of the flavored waters that I've found also have aspartame in them. I do make iced tea with a little bit of real sugar (about 3 tbsp in 3 quarts of water) and a healthy bit of Splenda (I'm from the south, we like our tea sweet!). On the days that I drink a lot of Diet Coke, the scale doesn't budge even if everything else is the same (calories, exercise, etc.). The days that I drink mostly water, I'll lose weight if everything else is the same. So I'm trying to limit myself to only one 12 oz can per day.

However, while I realize that aspartame is clearly affecting my body somehow, I think we need to be very careful to realize that correlation is not causation. There might be a link between Diet Coke and metabolic syndrome, but there is no solid evidence to date that drinking soda causes these problems. Anecdotes are fine but they do not constitute scientific evidence. For example, I always seem to get stuck at traffic lights when I'm running late. In reality, I'm probably not stopped at lights any more when I'm late than when I'm on time, but because I'm frantically watching the little clock in my car while stuck at the light, I notice it far more than when I'm just rocking out to 80's music at a light.

Everyone's body chemistry is different. Eating seafood is encouraged for most people since it's so healthy, but it makes me terribly ill since I'm allergic to it. That doesn't make seafood bad for everyone, just those with an allergy. I'm sure there are people with an allergy to aspartame who shouldn't drink it (and those with PKU should definitely not drink it!) but that's not to say that it can't be a part of a balanced diet for those whom is doesn't adversely affect.

Okay, I'll turn off the professor and research in me now. :-) Report
I drink one glass a day it could be worse Report
I thought I was addicted to caffeine because I was drinking a 24 pack of diet coke a day. I decided to switch to coffee and get off the diet coke. I noticed that I started buying sugar free popsicles and wasn't drinking the coffee. I was sucking on a box a day. What do sugar free popsicles and diet coke have in common? Aspertame. So I took Aspertame out of my diet completely. The first month was rough but once that cleared up, I did so much better. I didn't crave the diet coke or popsicles. When I do crave diet coke, I look at the products I ate that day. Aspertame hides in strange places and I sometimes find it in foods I wouldn't expect to find it. I think it is the Aspertame that is addictive. Report

THis is puzzling. I understand the difference between causality and correlation, and you agree with the person extracting the study here that this was correlation only. However, I'm not seeing any explanation for the correlation. Apparently, the relationship is not mediated by calories, etc. , but without the source (something which should be posted with this information, esp. since the writers here sometimes appear to misrepresent the study), we can't tell what the investigations suggest as a potential mechanism. Just because it's not calories doesn't mean it's not through something else. Once again, readers leave either without enough facts (as I was) or reach conclusions based on their experience. Report
I tried switching from regular to diet soda but I totally hate the taste, so it was really easy for me to give up. I drink at least my 64oz of water everyday and then sometimes I might have a tea w/ splenda. Report
There is no evidence that drinking diet soda increases the desire for sweets or the intake of calories. A recent study in Diabetes Care that linked diet soda to metabolic syndrome - linked, not caused - stated "participants randomly assigned to dietary regimens that include artificially sweetened foods and beverages do not gain more weight or consume more energy compared with those randomly assigned to sugar-sweetened food/beverage regimens . (Diabetes Care 32:688694, 2009). Other studies show that diet soda drinkers overall have a better diet, buy better groceries. While water may be the ultimate neutral beverage, diet sodas are not evil. It may be easier to consume more of them because of the taste, but there is no harm related to the sweeteners or their use. Even the highest consumer is unlikely to reach the Acceptable Daily Intake which for most artificial sweeteners is roughly 20 12 oz cans or 97 packets. Even if you do, that figure has a 10x safety factor added in. The caffeine is another subject and in very large amounts can cause problems. But some caffeine consumption has been linked to reduced development of Type 2 diabetes. So even caffeine is not the always evil substance it was once thought to be. Moderation is good in all things - but for those of you who enjoy diet soda, I don't think you need to worry. Report
I'm weening myself off of diet pepsi now but some of the flavored waters that they suggest switching to also have artifical sweeteners. Best bet is water! Report
I used to drink a half gallon to gallon of Diet Pepsi a day! Sometimes a gallon and a half!!! I used to make the excuse "I work two jobs, I need the caffiene." I had a friend who was convinced that diet soda caused tumors in her breasts and she convinced me to give it up. I was on the water bandwagon for about 2 or 3 years. Then I let Diet Dr. Pepper slip back into my life, but recently have decided to break the habit again. Here's to drinking water! Report
I used to drink a half gallon to gallon of Diet Pepsi a day! Sometimes a gallon and a half!!! I used to make the excuse "I work two jobs, I need the caffiene." I had a friend who was convinced that diet soda caused tumors in her breasts and she convinced me to give it up. I was on the water bandwagon for about 2 or 3 years. Then I let Diet Dr. Pepper slip back into my life, but recently have decided to break the habit again. Here's to drinking water! Report
I have been drinking water now for almost a year, and the last time I had a diet Pepsi/Coke it did not taste right and ended up pouring it out. I will drink tea, but like it plain no sweet tea, and have become very aware of the dangers of artificial sweetener, which is another reason to not drink diet sodas or diet drinks of any kind. Report
One of the things that I did when I lost weight a few years ago was switched from regular soda to diet, and I strongly believe that was one of the biggest contributing factors to the weight coming off...I've never experienced the cravings for sweets that this article mentions, and never noticed any changes in my appetite. But, I also drink lots of water, and try to limit my diet coke to 2 or 3 a day.

Having said that, I have been reading a lot of things lately about aspartame that make me want to eliminate it from my diet. My grocery store brand diet cola has splenda instead of aspartame, so I've been drinking that instead! Report
My mom put Diet Coke in our sippy cups at McDonalds, lol! We never had the real stuff in our house. When I got to be a teenager, a whole new world of DP opened up. In college I went about 2 years without having any soda at all, but now I'm back to it. :( I won't have one everyday, but I'm a social drinker, for sure! Report
I love my diet coke. I looked at a lot of things (and have changed a lot of things) on my journey, but I don't plan on giving up my beloved diet coke. It has not affected my weight loss at all. I am at risk for metabolic syndrome due to my PCOS, but losing 81 lbs reduced my blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol to perfect levels and I need no medication at all. My fat, which has changed, is what caused those things to rise, not my diet coke consumption, which has not changed. I think many of these studies "suggest" things while not controlling for other variables. What type of person drinks diet soda - what is the average weight of drinkers/non-drinkers. There are so many variables. I am making my way to a healthy weight, I eat an extremely healthy diet, I exercise everyday and I will continue to enjoy my diet coke. Report
I love carbonation and yummy, sugary sodas. Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, Red Bull, you name it. I can't help it. I switched to diet when I learned how many empty calories I was consuming from pop. I learned to really enjoy diet soda.

Then, I found that I was getting very ill every morning. I'd be late to class because I'd spend so much time in the bathroom. I couldn't figure out what it was. At first I thought it was caffeine, so I stopped drinking sugar free Red Bulls. I was still drinking a bottle or two of diet pop each day, and I didn't really see any difference.

Then I read that diet pop can cause irritable bowel syndrome and also cause your body to stop absorbing nutrients from food. This made complete sense, and I stopped drinking diet pop. The bowel movements I had every morning which made me painfully sick to my stomach stopped almost immediately.

It's hard for me to stop drinking diet soda alltogether, but I try to only have it once in a while. I allow a little extra room in my calorie intake to have one or two cans of pop a week just because I really do enjoy it. Also, I drink Canfield's sparkling Seltzer water on a regular basis to satisfy my carbonation addiction :P. I feel so much healthier and happier now. Report
I don't like drinking plain's too boring. But, I do put a ton of ice in my diet cokes, and I have switched to Sobe lifewater after gym workouts with ice in it. I noticed that when I drink the lifewater, I tend to skip the diet coke. I don't think the soda has done anything to influence my weight, but I don't want to put myself at risk for other maladies. I'll have to make it a goal to only have an occasional diet coke. Report
Diet Pepsi is my drink of choice and all day. I make iced tea on occasion with an artificial sweetener. I keep water refrigerated but it makes it to the back of the fridge.
Don't want to give up DP so quickly as my coffee in the morning. The caffeine gets me going somewhat at least. I have enough depression problems so I don't feel guilty over my soda.
The chemicals in soda don't help with health conditions--like mine!! It will take some time to wean off I think but it will be ok. H2O with a twist sounds good. Crystal light is a bit strange these days, unlike what it was, since it don't mix as well. Probably doing it wrong. But I will save money by not buying the sleeves of DP anymore. Hmmmm I used to say that about smoking--and I was right!! A pack is over $7 now!! Ouch Report
Well after reading all of this I guess my next goal should be to give up my Diet Dr. Peppers! I seriously drink about 3.5 tp 4 liters EVERY DAY!!!! Report
I'm addicted to diet soda, so I need to eliminate it from my diet. Thanks for this wonderful blog entry! Report
I have never been a soda drinker diet or not have always been a water drinker people used to make fun of me because of all the water I drank, I always had water with before it was the thing to do, when we went camping and everyone was drinking soda or beer I had my water and I always felt better the next day than the other people I was with. Report
I still drink Diet Pepsi or Diet Dr. Pepper on occasion, but since I started my lifestyle change in January and began focusing on getting all of my water in each day, I consume them less and less. I have found that if I am drinking 8 glasses of water or more a day, I just don't have the desire for them.

I started drinking diet soda when I was a teenager working in a fast food restaurant. Before that, my parents never really had that in our home ( we had Kool Aid- soda was too expensive). At some point I developed a skin condition on my legs that had me trying just about anything to stop it - the constant itch drove me crazy! I read at some point that the artificial sweetners could contribute to this so I switched to regular soda. After a time, the itching went away and I was convinced that was the cause.

Years later, I was slowly increasing the amount of regular soda I was drinking and after a check up at the doctor's was diagnosed as type 2 diabetic. I immediately stopped drinking soda of any kind, until my dr said I could drink diet if I had too. So slowly but surely I started drinking diet soda again and the itching came back.

Then I started taking fish oil capsules for my heart and low and behold, my legs cleared up again. So I continue to take them and limit my consumption of diet soda. I don't drink more than 2 or 3 a week. Report
If you are tired of just pain water you can try some crystal light. it is only 5 calories and gives some taste while drinking water Report
Diet coke addict. Can go several hours without, then it calls me. Have quit for day or 2 at most then when restarted noticed increase in hypogylcemic symptoms (not diabetic) Reading this article & others I know I need to really stop drinking it, or at least limit self to one a day. Report
I justify my Diet Coke addiction by saying that I never drink coffee and always drink a lot of water so it's just a small vice. Ultimately, however, I know that I need to start limiting how much of it I drink. If I can't get through one day without it, it's time to start evaluating the hold it has over me! Report
I used to be a serious diet coke drinker. Went cold turkey the beginning of the year, and I have never felt better. I've probably had a total of 1 since. I purchased a bottle of Diet Dr Pepper thinking I was giving myself a treat, and it took me 3 days to drink it. Found it wasn't as satisfying as I would have liked, and just didn't taste the same. Now I've focused my attention on drinking water, and when I'm out I may drink a glass of tea. Report
i will eat three times as much if i drink diet soda, it increases my appetite beyond belief, i would rather have the extra calories of regular soda or just drink water Report
Diet coke gives me headaches and regular pepsi disgusts me so diet pepsi is out of the question. But... I LOVE regular Coca Cola! I have cut back from 3 cans a day to one (and I usually don't finish the whole can). I love Coke so much, it will be harder for me to quit drinking that than to to quit smoking! Report
Although I'm not a diet soda drinker this helped a lot. Now I don't have to even think twice about drinking a diet soda. I'm not dependent on regular soda. If it's there fine..if not fine. Nevertheless, I'm trying to quit cold turkey! Report
I gave up pop 3 years ago. Once in awhile I have one here or there but not regularly any more. Regular soda has too many calories and diet has too many ingredients that I can't even pronounce much less know what those things do to my body and long term health. Report
I always drank Fresca, thinking that the grapefruit and peach flavors made the soda more healthy than Diet Coke. Now that I drink water with lemon, I don't miss the Fresca. Report
I do not drink coffee, so my morning caffeine come from my Diet Dr. Pepper. I am not sure if I could ever completely give it up. Report
I never really developed a taste for diet soft drinks. I would rather drink a real soda than a diet one. Yet I have pretty much stopped drinking soda all together, except for a ginger ale when I have an upset stomach or a Coke when I'm on an airplane. Report
What about KOOL-AID? Report
I am defnitely having a hard time, even reducing, he amount of Diet coke I drink... But at least.. I am drinking one third of what I usually drink.=) Report
I did a weird thing a few years ago: I gave up diet Pepsi (which I'd loved for years, but I found the aspartame seriously aggravated my migraines) and switched to regular Pepsi! Obviously weight loss wasn't my biggest concern at the time. After just a few weeks, I couldn't drink the diet stuff- it tasted like I was drinking cleaning chemicals or something! I knew the regular kind wasn't good for me, but I had it once in a while.

Lucky thing for me was that, for some reason, the regular stuff started tasting pretty gross to me, too, especially when it came out of a can- it tasted like chemical fertilizer smells. I switched to just having it if we went out to eat... but even that's not so tempting anymore. I'm not known for my will power, so I'm thankful for whatever caused the change for me!

I drink tea, so I didn't get withdrawal symptoms from the caffeine. These days I drink water, sometimes a little iced tea for a treat, and lots of green tea with just a drop of honey Report
I can't have anything with aspartame in it because it makes me ill & gives me headaches. I can taste the stuff in the aftertaste as well, & I'll stop having something if the telltale signs of aspartame make themselves known to me. I don't chew gum as a rule, & this is one of the reasons - the other being that I have TMJ & grind my teeth, something that's exacerbated by gum chewing. Anyway! I dropped pop completely out of my diet just before Christmas & was great with not having any at all for quite a while & felt all that much better for it, but now I'm back to it. I thought I'd be able to handle it in moderation, but I know better. So, in my efforts to be healthier & fit, & whilst doing research on eating clean, I've decided to cut it out of my diet completely again. Of course this includes diet pop, which I never drink anyway because of the aspartame. Because of this, I also can't have Crystal Light. I like Nestea powders & any of those kind of things without aspartame.

I really & truly do like water & juice, & so I'll stick with those. I'll have the occasional hot chocolate or chai latte - I don't like tea or coffee, unless they're iced - but mostly water. I'm here on SP to improved my health & physical fitness, & I'm willing to give up certain "luxuries" to do this, &, in the end, they're not really luxuries if they only cause harm in the long run, at least with the amounts I have of them. I'm willing to make certain changes & "sacrifices" for my health & well being. Really, in the long run, they'll prove to not be sacrifices after all, I believe, as my health & fitness improve & I have energy to spare! :D Report
I regularly drank diet pepsi - every day and when I started my journey on Spark to get healthier - I have stopped. Maybe one a month now and I feel so much better! I will never go back go diet pop. Water is my drink of choice now. Report
I enjoy my Diet Pepsi and used to drink one a day. Don't know why and when I changed that but now, may do four a week. I drink them with a lot of ice and it actually settles my cravings for sweets as I use it as my snack between lunch and dinner. My sister now drink Diet Pepsi after drinking regular Pepsi and she enjoys it as well. I drink water with my meals and enjoy the powders added to water as well. Report
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