The Great Diet Soda Debate

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Okay, this is one I have to weigh in on.

Diet Soda And Weight Loss Study Conflicts With Previous Studies

diet-soda-weight-loss-debateIf you haven’t seen the headlines, they’re spouting the recent study that showed diet soda drinkers lost 44% more weight on a 12-week weight loss program than those who didn’t drink diet soda (they drank water instead). To be clear, while 44% sounds like a lot, we’re only talking about four pounds. Statistics can paint a different picture so it’s always important to look at the details.

More importantly, the study is being used as evidence against previous studies that showed people who drank diet soda actually consume more calories, and had higher waist circumferences.

Missing The Point

The debate, however, is missing some key considerations.

  • A 12-week weight loss program really doesn’t tell us anything because the vast majority of people gain back weight lost through dieting. So if you lose four more pounds by one diet method than you do another, are you really ahead of the game?
  • [div class=”callout-right”]Read This Related Article
    Warning: Dieting Increases Your Risk of Gaining MORE Weight[end-div]The studies that associate greater calorie intake and higher waist circumference with diet sodas show correlation, not causation.  In my experience, the association suggests that people who struggle with eating and weight use diet sodas as a tool but it’s not one that really helps. My opinion is because they’re dieting. For most people, dieting just leads to eating more, not less.

So Should You Drink Diet Sodas Or Not To Lose Weight?

As with any food or beverage (or anything else that doesn’t harm anyone else), I say it’s your choice. We know that freedom of choice helps people make choices in their own best interest. So we wouldn’t “forbid” anything.

But We Do Have A Few Thoughts About Diet Sodas:

  • They’re really not contributing anything nutritionally.
    And many people report it doesn’t make them feel well when they drink them. So we’d encourage thinking about what you really want.
  • Do they keep a sweet tooth alive?
    Many of the women who come to Green Mountain are working to reduce their desire for sweets. We help them do that very effectively by starting to eat regular, well-balanced meals of primarily whole foods, and learning to give themselves permission to eat what they want. The question is whether they can continue to move away from a desire for sweet foods if they drink diet sodas regularly. We wouldn’t think a diet soda here or there would make a difference but most people we know who drink them do so on a daily basis. And often drink more than one a day.

Whatever you decide about what you choose to eat, tune in to discover how it makes you feel. That’s the best route to making choices that truly help you achieve and maintain your healthy weight.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

Marsha has been a guiding force at Green Mountain at Fox Run since 1986. In addition to overseeing a professional program that helps women establish sustainable approaches to healthy living, she is a respected thought leader when it comes to managing eating, emotions and weight. She has been a voice of reason for the last three decades in helping people move away from diets, an area in which she is personally as well as professionally versed. An accomplished writer and speaker, Marsha is the author of six books, including the online course Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals (co-authored by Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, Human Kinetics), What You Need to Know about Carbohydrates (Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics [The Academy]), What You Need to Know about Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (The Academy), and The Pregnancy Cookbook (co-authored by Donna Shields, RD, Berkeley Publishing). She has worked extensively on a national basis to educate the public about nutrition and the impact of dieting on eating behaviors, including binge eating and emotional eating. Active in many organizations helping to further the cause of health and wellness, Marsha currently serves as vice chair of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and vice president of The Center for Mindful Eating and has been active in the Association for Size Diversity and Health in support of Health at Every Size(R) principles.

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