Busting 4 Myths About Low- or No-Calorie Beverages

By: , SparkPeople Health & Fitness Writer

With so much health information swirling around, both online and off, you're bound to come across your fair share of myths on the path to wellness. In addition to food and fitness, there are plenty of misconceptions about beverages as well. One day you might hear that your favorite low- or no-calorie drink is good for you, and the next day an article claims that it could jeopardize your health or send your weight soaring. How do you know what to believe and what to ignore?

To help you make smart hydration choices, let's look at some of the most common beverage myths.

MYTH: Low- or no-calorie beverages cause sweet cravings.

FACT: According to the Calorie Control Council, multiple peer-reviewed studies have disproved this myth. To the contrary, those who drink low- or no-calorie beverages have been shown to be more likely to eat a balanced diet. And, in one study, those who drank low- or no-calorie beverages ate fewer sweets than a group that drank water alone.

SparkPeople member EGGBASKET1 says she drinks diet drinks and eats fruit when a craving for sweets hits, at least once per day. "[Low- or no-calorie beverages have] no calories and [they] satisfy my wants for a flavored, carbonated drink," she says.

MYTH: Drinking diet beverages leads to weight gain.

FACT: The American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics confirm that drinking diet beverages can help reduce overall caloric intake, aiding in maintaining a healthy weight.

"Half of the water I drink daily is flavored water which is sweetened with sucralose," member PAMBROWN62 says. "It helps me get in my water intake on a daily basis."

MYTH: Low- or no-calorie sweeteners can cause cancer and other diseases.

FACT: There is no scientific evidence that low- or no-calorie sweeteners cause cancer or other health problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have both thoroughly examined and approved these ingredients as safe for general consumption—so go ahead and indulge your sweet cravings without sending your calorie count through the roof.

"I don't have to worry about [gaining weight] with diet soda—I've never gained weight from diet soda," member STARSLOBBER says.

MYTH: The sugar substitute aspartame contained in some diet beverages triggers an insulin response, which causes the body to store more fat.

FACT: Scientific studies have found that people (some obese, some lean) who drank beverages sweetened with aspartame with each meal experienced no change in insulin levels. Research also shows low- or no-calorie beverages donít raise blood sugar levels. Thatís why the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association have all deemed FDA-approved low- or no-calorie sweeteners as an acceptable sweetener alternative for people with diabetes.

So don't fall for scare tactics or unfounded claims. Research has shown that low- or no-calorie beverages can help to reduce overall calorie intake and aid in weight management. Whether your low- or no-calorie beverage of choice is a carbonated soft drink, iced tea or sports drink, you can stay refreshed and hydrated without worrying about health risks or weight gain.

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