The Great Diet Soda Debate


Diet Soda and Obesity?

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?
  • 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.

There’s a different approach for women looking for lasting weight loss success through lifestyle change.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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