Koslo's Nutrition Solutions

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Diet Soda's Fall From Grace

Diet sodas’ days of deceiving are in swift decline as health-conscious consumers are buying less of it in an effort to cut back on artificial sweeteners. Over the last year, sales of diet soda dropped almost 7 percent while sales of regular soda dropped by 2.2 percent. This trend is driven primarily by concern over the processing that goes into making a diet soda and reports that drinking it could lead to weight gain.

Artificial sweeteners have been used since the late 1800’s for “people who desire to limit their sugar intake.” Today, a number of chemical sweeteners are deemed safe for use in foods by the Food and Drug Administration: Aspartame, acesulfame K, saccharin, neotame (NutraSweet®) and sucralose (Splenda®.) Despite the fact artificial sweeteners are promoted as a safe weight loss tool, people who drink diet soda have an increased risk for being overweight.

Diet Soda and Your Waistline

Diet soda is definitely not a “health food” and the reason drinking diet soda doesn’t help with weight loss may actually be all in your head. When you drink a diet soda, your body and brain are primed and waiting for something sweet. The diet soda provides the sweetness but not the calories, leading you to search for something to satisfy this newly created unfulfilled craving. Or in other words, you end up eating more food. Not only that, but because these artificial sweeteners are hundreds and thousands of times sweeter than real sugar, they may blunt our body’s ability to become satisfied from the natural sugars found in unprocessed foods like fruit. So again, we feel like we need to add more sugar (calories) to our foods to become satisfied.

Studies conducted in 2005 and 2011 found that on average, for each diet drink a person had per day, they were 65 percent more likely to be overweight in the next seven years. Diet soft drink users as a group also had a higher waist circumstance and more abdominal fat (the type of fat that increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.)

Artificial Versus Natural: Which is Best?

A good way to avoid all of the health risks associated with artificial sweeteners is to go natural with some caveats. Sugar cane, raw sugar, honey, and regular ole’ sugar are all natural and minimally processed, but they each have from 50 to 60 calories per tablespoon.

Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener made from the Stevia rebaudiana plant and has a long history of use in South America. Pure stevia has a bitter, licorice-like aftertaste that many people don’t like and it can be hard to bake with. However, there are a number of great products on the market that have taken care of the bitter after taste like Truvia and others. See what your grocer carries and do some experimenting.

Of course you can always stick with plain water….

I Don’t Like the Taste of Water

What if you really don’t like drinking water, and you don’t want to use any type of sweetener natural or not?

Try a few of these suggestions for low-calorie, nutrient rich beverages:
·      Drink fizzy water, (seltzer club soda) flavored with a dash of unsweetened pomegranate or cranberry juice or a squeeze of lemon or lime.
·      Experiment with using slices of cucumber in your water or pop a fresh strawberry into your glass.
·      Brewed teas are loaded with antioxidants. Try black, green, white, herbal, or rooibos; hot or iced, with or without lemon.

Swapping out your diet soda for a natural alternative is something you can do that doesn’t require a lot of effort yet can dramatically transform your weight and your health. Cheers!


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