First thing most people do when they go on a diet is to change from regular soda to diet soda. Does diet soda helps with weight loss or it leads to even more weight gain? The scientific research is not conclusive yet.
But let’s first try to understand what position science and medicine takes on diet soda. Diet soda is sweetened by artificial sweeteners which are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar but with negligible calories.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe?
Initial medical studies have linked use of artificial sweeteners with all kinds of issues like diabetes, blood pressure, kidney disease, preterm delivery, childhood obesity and even cancer.
A 2017 survey of different studies on effects of artificial sweeteners linked these with obesity and heart disease. Another study published in The British Medical Journal has indicated that there is a 13 percent increased risk of diabetes by drinking one artificially sweetened drink per day.
A study published in 2016 in Archives of Cardiovascular Diseases has linked one serving per day of artificially sweetened drinks with 8 percent increase in risk of hypertension.
A research study published in 2017 in the Clinical Journal of American Society of Nephrology has concluded that the risk of kidney disease doubles with 7 glasses per week of diet soda consumption.
Different research studies have linked artificial sweeteners with preterm delivery and also with childhood obesity.
But American Heart Association has advised that artificial sweeteners can be included in a healthy diet because these reduce calories. Cleveland Clinic also considers the artificial sweeteners safe for diabetics. According to National Cancer Institute of US, there is no established link between artificial sweeteners and cancer.
Does Diet Soda Cause Weight Loss?
But what does the research say on diet soda and weight loss link. Here again the science is divided. A review of dozens of studies published in Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2015 linked use of artificial sweeteners with increased weight, belly fat and BMI.
On the contrary, there are studies which have found that use of diet sodas leads to considerable weight loss. One study found that artificial sweeteners can induce decrease in weight of about 6 kg over a one year period.
So how do we conclude this discussion of science. If we go by the parciscing medicine advice (i.e doctors), artificial sweeteners are safe if you remain moderate in their use. There are currently no experimental studies which have successfully concluded links between side effects and diet soda. On the other hand, diet soda and weight loss studies funded by cola companies have tried to present a rosier picture and delink diet soda from weight gain.
But at the same time, we need to be aware of a few things about diet soda. First, we should be aware that it contains caffeine which is still there. So overconsumption of caffeine may not be suitable for many people. You can not make it as your regular drink as replacement for water.
But if you make it part of a balanced diet and as part of cutting back on calories, then it can be an effective tool in your weight loss efforts. It will essentially cut calories from your diet and unless you replace these calories by overindulging in other treats, this calorie deficit will go towards decreasing your waistline.