I know what you're thinking.
"Even diet soda is bad for me? How is that even possible!"
And I totally understand your disbelief. After all, a can of Diet Coke contains 0 calories, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fat and a mere 40mg of sodium.
How can a beverage with nutrition facts akin to water be bad for you?
"Diet soda can have no calories, carbs or sugar because it replaces sugar with artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar. So it's possible to use a very small amount for the sweet taste and have a very low level of calories," says Ryan Andrews, nutrition coach at Precision Nutrition.
Indeed, some artificial sweeteners are actually 600 times as sweet as sugar.
When your body thinks it's getting sugar, it expects to receive calories. When it doesn't actually get those calories, your body gets confused.
Over time, this behavior could wreak havoc on how your body releases insulin, the hormone that helps turn sugar into energy. If your body has adapted to artificial sweetener consumption, it might not release the proper levels of insulin when you consume actual sugar. This can lead to sugar remaining in the blood stream, which can cause things like diabetes and hyperglycemia.
Furthermore, by tricking your body into thinking it's going to get calories, artificial sweeteners leave you susceptible to subsequent overeating. "Since the body and brain aren't actually getting calories or carbs, we might get signals for strong rebound cravings after consuming artificial sweeteners," Andrews says.
A recent study found diet soda drinkers consume a comparable amount of total calories per day as regular soda drinkers. That means they're eating more calories from solid food than regular soda drinkers, filling in any caloric deficit they might be creating from their zero-calorie soda consumption.
So while diet soda might look like a sterling option when you glance at the nutrition facts, its real effect on your body is much more complex.
Click here for more info on how zero calorie diet sodas can still be bad for you.
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