A nice, cold can of your favorite diet soda may not seem as innocuous as you think. In fact, diet sodas may not be great for your diet after all. Research results point to widening waistlines instead.
It isn’t a surprise to know that people who drink sugar-laden soft drinks and beverages gain weight over the long-term. Although temporarily refreshing, sodas add a lot of empty calories to your diet. What is surprising is that, contrary to its cognomen, diet sodas can make you gain weight.
A study spanning eight years conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center showed startling results. Lead researcher, Sharon P. Fowler, has this to say: “There was a 41% increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day.”
Fowler’s study covered 1,550 Mexican-American and white Americans with ages ranging from 25 to 64 years. Of the total group, 622 of these people were normal in weight at the beginning of the study. At the close, however, one-third of the 622 people with normal weights grew to be overweight and even obese. Although Fowler and her colleagues are not quick to chalk up diet soda intake to rising obesity rates, they know that diet sodas figure in many weight gain cases.
Diet sodas have no calories. They are sweetened by artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. In a study in which artificial sugar was fed to rats, the aspartame-fed rats showed higher cravings for more calories than those fed with real sugar. Fowler says our bodies may work on the same principle. “If you offer your body something that tastes like a lot of calories, but it isn’t there, your body is alerted to the possibility that there is something there and it will search for the calories promised but not delivered.” The result …you crave high calorie foods and eat more than you should. This simply confirms other studies which suggest diet drinks stimulate appetite.
Another small study involving 474 elderly volunteers from the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging charted those who drank two or more diet sodas. The results were also eye-opening. Those who drank diet soft drinks increased their waistlines five times more than non-drinkers. This corroborates the fact that no-calorie sodas do have an impact on weight and eating behavior. People may choose to eat more calories since they are banking on the fact that they are getting none from their beverage.
At this stage, it may be premature to say that diet sodas are one of the biggest culprits of weight gain. It will do you well, however, to err on the side of caution and simply cut out diet sodas or any soft drinks from your diet. A nice, tall glass of water is still the best and healthiest choice for a beverage.