Diet Coke. Diet Pepsi. Diet Dr. Pepper. Diet Sprite. Whatever your flavor, is it ruining your health?!
Before I give you all the info you’re here for, go on a little analogy journey with me:
Imagine your health is a bucket. Some behaviors poke massive holes in your bucket (like really poor sleep, binge drinking, only eating processed foods, etc.), some behaviors poke small holes in your bucket (a glass of wine, being a little stressed, etc.), some behaviors add sand to your bucket (eating a sweet potato, doing a workout, etc.) and some behaviors add big rocks to your bucket (having a great sleep quality and quantity, eating lots of veggies, managing stress, regularly being active).
Current research shows that diet soda is likely a small hole in your bucket, has no effect on your bucket or for some people could be sand in your bucket (if it’s replacing a less healthy beverage).
So while I will give the info on why diet soda is likely TOTALLY FINE for you in moderation remember that it’s still not a “health food”, but also is likely only a small hole in your health bucket or as no impact on it.
One reason people once thought that diet soda might be “bad” is if it would spike insulin (affecting blood sugar levels, promoting fat storage, etc.). However, diet sodas with no carbs in them will not spike insulin.
It was also once thought that maybe diet soda worked against fat loss. However, research has shown that diet soda itself does not cause weight gain or impair fat loss.
The confusion with this topic mostly comes due to the fact that soda and diet soda consumption is most common in those with worse diets and health behaviors in general. If you eat healthy, get good sleep, have low stress and move regularly diet soda in moderation will not harm your health.
This one is a bad news, good news situation. Bad news is that diet soda (aka the artificial sweeteners in them) might make you want other sugary/energy dense foods. Good news is that if you know this you can identify, “Hey, I’m having a diet soda. If I want a cookie after I should evaluate whether I’m actually hungry for the cookie or if it’s the artificial sweeteners talking.” Since there’s nothing wrong with having a cookie this is not the end of the world. However, if you’re someone working on weight loss goals and drinking diet soda, you might want to be aware of this and have a mental strategy to combat it.
The biggest potential health issue with diet soda does seems to be this one. The acidic nature of diet soda when consumed quite regularly could be bad for your tooth enamel. So if you are prone to tooth issues or you drink a LOT of diet soda, you may want to scale it back and talk to your dentist.
So why did this question of diet soda and it’s impact on health arise?
Epidemiological studies. These are studies that find correlations (aka patterns). And like we learned about breakfast, it’s not that breakfast makes you healthier — but in epidemiological studies it seems people with healthy behaviors tend to also eat breakfast.
So in this case, people who drink diet soda also tend to not eat very healthy and be sedentary.
For most people a diet soda even a few times a week is totally fine. A naturally flavored carbonation drink would likely be even better, but no harm in having the soda as long as you take care of your teeth and watch out for potential cravings later 🙂