Diet Soda: Good or Bad?

Diet soda pop doesn’t add nutritional value to your diet, and not all alternatives are low-calorie or sugar-free. It can also contribute to certain health conditions.

Diet tonics are popular drinks around the world, especially among people who want to reduce their sugar or calorie intake.

Instead of sugar, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame-K or sucralose are used.

Almost every popular sugary libation on request has a “light” or “diet” interpretation — Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi Max, Sprite Zero, etc.

Diet tonics for people with diabetes were first introduced in the 1950s, although they were later marketed to people trying to control their weight or reduce their sugar intake.

Despite being free of sugar and calories, the health benefits of diet drinks and artificial sweeteners are controversial.

Diet soda pop is not nutritious
Diet soda pop is basically a mixture of carbonated water, artificial or natural sweeteners, colors, flavors and other food additives.

It usually has many to no calories and no significant nutrients. For example, a 12-ounce (354-mL) can of Diet Coke has no calories, sugar, fat, or protein and 40 mg of sodium (1).

However, not all tonics that use artificial sweeteners are low-calorie or sugar-free. Some use sugar and sweetener together. For example, a can of Coca-Cola Life, which contains the natural sweetener stevia, contains 90 calories and 24 grams of sugar (2).

Although styles differ from brand to brand, diet soda pop includes some common ingredients

Carbonated water. Although sparkling water can do in nature, most tonics are made by dissolving carbon dioxide in water under pressure (4).
Sweeteners. These include common artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, or herbal sweeteners like stevia, which are 200 – 13,000 times sweeter than regular sugar (4, 5Trusted Source).
acid Certain acids such as citric, malic and phosphoric acids are used to add tartness to soda pop drinks. They are also associated with tooth enamel erosion (4).
Colors. The most commonly used pigments are carotenoids, anthocyanins, and caramel (4).
the taste A variety of natural flavors or artificial flavors are used in diet soda pop, including fruit, berries, sauces, and cola(4).
Preservatives. These help diet tonics last longer on supermarket shelves. A commonly used preservative is potassium benzoate (4).
Vitamins and minerals. Some diet soft drink manufacturers add vitamins and minerals to claim their products as healthy no-calorie drinks.
Caffeine. Like regular soda pop, many diet tonics contain caffeine. A can of Diet Coke contains 46 mg of caffeine, while Diet Pepsi contains 35 mg (1, 6).
Diet soda pop is a mixture of carbonated water, artificial or natural sweeteners, colors, flavors, and unnecessary ingredients such as vitamins or caffeine. Most types contain zero or very few calories and no significant nutrients.

Weight loss products clash
Since diet soda pop is generally calorie-free, it’s natural to assume it can help with weight loss. Still, research suggests the association may not be so straightforward.

Several experimental studies have shown that using artificial sweeteners and drinking high amounts of diet soda pop are associated with increased threats to circulation and metabolic patterns ( 7Trusted Source , 8Trusted Source , 9Trusted Source , 10Trusted Source ).

Scientists suggest that diet soda pop can increase appetite by stimulating hunger hormones, altering sweet taste receptors and driving dopamine responses in the brain (11Trusted Source, 12, 13Trusted Source, 14).

Given that diet soft drinks contain no calories, these reactions can lead to an increased intake of sweet or calorie-dense foods, leading to weight gain. However, the evidence for this is not consistent in mortal research (5 trusted sources, 11 trusted sources, 15 trusted sources).

Another proposal states that diet soda pop’s association with weight gain may be explained by people with poorer drinking habits. The weight gain they witness may be due to their indulgent habits — not diet soda pop ( 16Trusted Source , 17Trusted Source ).

Experimental research does not support the claim that diet soda pop causes weight gain. In fact, these studies have established that replacing sugary drinks with diet soda pop can affect weight loss ( 18Trusted Source , 19Trusted Source ).

In one study fat actors drank 24 ounces (710 ml) of diet soda pop or water for 1 serving per day. At the end of the study, the diet soda pop group lost an average of 13.7 pounds (6.21 kg), compared to 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) in the water group ( 20Trusted Source ).

Still, to add to the confusion, there is evidence of bias

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