Back in the early 1950’s, the first diet soda was put into place called No-Cal. With sodas such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola saturating the market, some people were looking for an alternative that didn’t have all of the sugar, but still the same sweet taste. At first, diet soda wasn’t really marketed as a weight loss tool, but instead something that diabetics could enjoy if they weren’t able to have sugar. Then, the market started to explode as Diet Rite, Diet Dr. Pepper and others came along.
Over the past few decades, Coca-Cola and Pepsi have made diet sodas a mainstream phenomenon among the best selling brands in the world. While things seemed fine and dandy for a while, there ended up being a backlash against diet soda because of its contents. Studies showed that some of the alternatives to sugar weren’t actually all that healthy, and could even cause cancer. In recent years, things have changed, though, and diet sodas are back to being popular again. Are they right for you, though? Let’s take a closer look at diet sodas to see if they’re as bad (or good) as some professionals say.
What’s In Diet Soda?
When looking at the contents of diet soda, we’ll point out the most popular one, which is Diet Coke, produced by Coca-Cola. There have been quite a few flavors of Diet Coke over the years, but the ingredients tend to remain the same with the most popular standard brand. About 99 percent of each Diet Coke is purely water, compared to about 90 percent for the non-diet version. The other one percent is a mix of caffeine, sodium and aspartame.
Aspartame had been deemed by the FDA to be safe, but there were some that requested it be removed from drinks for health reasons, but it didn’t appear that aspartame had any side effects. However, Pepsi responded by removing aspartame from their drinks in favor of sucralose, another artificial sweetener. The taste was noticeable as people said it was more “flat,” and Pepsi rejoined Coca-Cola in the aspartame department.
Effective Weight Loss Tool?
When you’re trying to lose weight, the only surefire way to drop extra pounds is by burning off more calories than you take in. With that said, diet sodas definitely help in that department as they can satisfy your cravings, making you less hungry while bringing in no calories and satisfying your caffeine cravings, as well. However, there have been people that claim that drinking diet soda actually makes you gain weight.
While professional researchers definitely agree that standard sodas make you gain weight, there’s no direct link between diet sodas and weight gain. Over the past decade, a lot of research has tried to find this link, but have concluded that at the end of the day, drinking diet soda compared to regular soda will bring in fewer calories, and as a result, fewer pounds. In fact, if you drink just one 12 ounce soda per day and replace it with a diet soda, you’re saving more than 50,000 calories over the course of a year. Without making any other changes to your diet, you can lose nearly 15 pounds in that timeframe.
The reason that people started to drift more toward diet sodas in the first place was because they had no sugar, not because they were trying to lose weight. This has been a blessing for diabetics, who aren’t able to have sugary drinks, but still might get the craving for something carbonated and a bit sweet. A regular soda has the same effect as eating 10 teaspoons of pure sugar for diabetics, making diet soda a great alternative.
There aren’t any carbohydrates in diet sodas, which means there’s no effect on glucose levels. While it’s suggested that you drink diet sodas in moderation no matter your health, diabetics have found life a lot easier if they’re able to drink just one per day. Some will debate that there’s an increased risk of diabetes for those that don’t have it already because of diet sodas, but no scientific link has been found.
Many people will tell you that if you’re dehydrated that you should avoid soda like the plague. Regular sodas do contain mostly water, but haven’t been found to be hydrating. Obviously, water is the first thing you want to grab if you’re feeling a bit dehydrated, but will diet sodas work since they’re 99 percent water? It turns out that because of the high water amount, you’re able to count diet sodas toward your daily recommended water intake.
Of course, that comes with some of the other things that you don’t get from regular water, such as sodium. There’s about two percent of your maximum daily allowance of sodium in each 12 ounce can of diet soda, so it doesn’t make a huge dent. Some research has even found that diet sodas are as effective as sports drinks in terms of rehydration, and don’t have a lot of the sugar or calories, with much less sodium.
No Cancer Link
One of the reasons that aspartame was temporarily removed from Diet Pepsi was because some people believed that it could end up causing cancer to those that drank it. There have been studies regarding aspartame for more than two decades now, though, and nothing has suggested that diet sodas have a direct link to an increase in cancer risk. The only side effect that was found was the occasional headache from drinking too much aspartame.
The study that caused people to be up in arms about aspartame came back in 2005 when lab rats increased their risk of cancer because of aspartame. What many people don’t realize, though, is that the rats were given an amount of aspartame that would be equivalent to drinking more than 200 cans of diet soda on a daily basis. With that said, aspartame could increase your risk of cancer, but only in massive amounts that you won’t come across.
One of the main reasons that a lot of us drink soda in the first place is because of the amounts of caffeine. While some prefer their coffee or tea, there are plenty that would rather have the taste of cola to help them get energized. There are even some diet sodas that actually contain more caffeine than regular sodas. Of course, you’ll want to watch your caffeine intake, but if you need that daily boost to help get you by, it’s much better to grab a diet soda than a regular one packed with sugar.
Summing it Up
So is diet soda really the devil that many have been making it out to be over the past 10 years or so? While obviously diet soda isn’t as healthy of an option as water, there are certain days where you just feel the need to drink soda. When you’re trying to lose weight, fighting off certain cravings can be a huge hassle and you wish there were a calorie free alternative to all of your favorite foods and drinks. With that said, the occasional diet soda won’t hurt you, or your diet.
With no serious side effects found so far in diet sodas over many years of studies, don’t feel bad about drinking a diet soda every now and then. If it helps you avoid something unhealthy in terms of eating, then diet soda will help tremendously. Just don’t drink a 12 pack each day and you won’t see any harm done to your body, but make sure to brush your teeth after drinking.