Diet Soda: Is It Really Better?

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Key points

  • Despite the claim that diet soda is healthier than regular pop, research shows that people who drink diet soda are also predisposed to certain health risks. Regular consumption of diet beverages can cause a variety of illnesses, including obesity and diabetes. 
  • Diet soda has no nutritional value and thus doesn’t offer any health benefits.
  • Diet soda doesn’t help with weight loss. On the contrary - it triggers food cravings, increases appetite, and interferes with dopamine responses in the brain.
  • You can substitute diet soda with healthy carbonated drinks such as seltzer, coffee, or sparkling spirulina drinks by FUL®. These drinks will not harm your health, and sparkling spirulina drinks can even boost your diet with essential nutrients.


Diet soda is a popular drink that tastes like regular soda but contains little to no sugar. At the same time, regular soda contains a lot of sugar and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, cyclamates, acesulfame-k, or sucralose. On the other hand, Diet soda has artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin or aspartame, that give the drink the same sweet taste. Even though many brands claim that diet soda is more healthy and is the perfect choice for people who want to lose weight, the health effects of this drink are controversial.


While originally introduced in the 1950s as an alternative sweet beverage for people with diabetes, nowadays, this beverage is a top choice for people who want to consume less sugar and fewer calories while still being able to enjoy the taste of their favourite fizzy drink. But is diet soda really better? Let’s have a closer look. 



Does Diet Soda Help With Weight Loss? 

Since diet soda is low in calories and sugar, people often associate it with being effective at helping to lose weight. But does it really work? 

Dietitians and doctors say that switching from regular to diet soda may offer a short term cut in calories, but the body won’t be fooled for long. This is because our bodies have the ability to react to non-nutritious compounds such as artificial sweeteners in diet soda, and in the end, it could turn out to be harmful. 


Scientists have also found evidence that suggests that diet soda may increase food cravings by triggering hunger hormones. It also may alter the way receptors in our mouths sense sweetness and trigger dopamine responses in the brain. Even though most diet soda is calorie-free, it can boost the appetite, therefore provoking a higher calorie intake, ultimately resulting in weight gain.



Diet Soda: Pros and Cons

Diet soda is carbonated water that contains added artificial or natural sweeteners, flavours, colours, and other ingredients such as caffeine or vitamins. Diet soda generally has no or few calories and no nutritional value. 


Since diet soda is rather a controversial product, many studies have been conducted to prove whether it’s healthy or not. Here are some of the key findings scientists discovered with regard to diet soda:

Obesity and Diabetes

It’s unlikely for diet soda to cause cancer or contribute to heartburn, and the consumption of diet soda may alleviate steatosis (fatty liver). However, some studies have concluded that diet soda consumption may cause different diseases such as obesity and high blood pressure. But more research is needed to prove these claims since, in addition to drinking diet soda, preexisting risk factors may also cause these issues. 

Scientists have also found evidence that diet soda can increase your risk of getting diabetes because the artificial sweeteners contained in it may change the gut flora. As a result, this counters blood sugar control and raises the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

There’s evidence that diet soda may contribute to preterm delivery in pregnant women. These studies also show that infants birthed by mothers who consumed diet soda during pregnancy are more prone to obesity.

Heart and Kidney Disease

A large number of studies have found a link between the consumption of diet coke and the high risk of heart problems such as congestive heart disease, heart failure, and heart attacks. Sweeteners such as aspartame are believed to be the primary cause of this risk. 

In addition, some observational studies have found a link between the consumption of diet soda and increased risk of kidney disease. This may be due to soda’s high phosphorus content, which increases the acid load on the kidneys. 

Increased Risk of Stroke

A guide released in 2011 by the American Heart Association has concluded that diet soda consumption can increase a person’s risk of a stroke by almost 50%. The primary cause of this increased risk is the significant consumption of sodium, which elevates the heart rate and blood pressure. This can result in the formation of blood clots in the brain. The amount of sodium one soda can or bottle contains isn’t harmful, but those who drink more than one can of diet soda per day can easily exceed the normal sodium consumption levels, which can have a significant negative impact on their overall health.

Other research studies have found that there’s a link between diet soda consumption and elevated risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

Diet soda may weaken blood sugar control in the body and even make the consumer more vulnerable to depression, osteoporosis, and tooth decay. However, more research is needed to conclusively prove this. 

The reason why all these results are controversial is that most of the research is observational, and thus, scientists can’t conclusively say whether the consumption of diet soda is the cause of these conditions or it is just associated with the true cause. Nevertheless, one thing experts know for sure is that diet soda has no nutritional value and thus no health benefits. So why not find a healthy substitute for it? 


Healthy Alternatives To Diet Soda

Drinking diet soda as a substitute for regular soda isn’t the best choice. There are plenty of other healthy drinks that will not only satisfy your cravings but also provide you with nutrients and will be beneficial to your health.

If you drink diet soda to satisfy your caffeine cravings, try to substitute it with plain tea or coffee. You can also add natural sweeteners like honey.

If you want your beverages to have a bit more flavour, try other fizzy drinks such as sparkling spirulina drinks by FUL®. These are not only tasty and feature a variety of different flavours but also have a rich nutrient profile due to the natural spirulina extract contained in them. You can also try drinking flavoured carbonated water or seltzer. 

Try Sparkling Spirulina Drink

If it’s hard for you to give up the sugary drinks, try adding more sweet fruits such as mangoes, peaches, bananas, and berries to your diet. These contain natural sugars and will be a great sweet substitute for diet coke.

Quitting a habit isn’t easy, but you’ll only benefit from substituting diet soda for a healthy drink. Regardless of the controversy around diet soda, why take the chances of endangering your health?


Is diet soda healthier than regular soda?

No, even though diet soda has few or no calories, it’s not much better than regular soda. Diet soda consumption increases the risk of many diseases, including diabetes and obesity. Diet soda doesn’t benefit your health and may even harm it.

Is diet soda worse than regular soda?

Diet soda isn’t worse than regular pop, but it’s not healthier either because of all the artificial sweeteners it contains.

Do diet drinks make you gain weight?

Yes, diet soda increases food cravings, which can lead to a higher calorie intake, and this can result in obesity. However, scientific research has found that consuming artificially sweetened diet sodas boosts appetite and promotes weight gain.

Do diet sodas cause belly fat?

Yes, diet soda and other drinks with artificial sweeteners can contribute to gaining belly fat, and a recent study found that high consumption of diet soda can increase the amount of belly fat in older adults.

What can I drink to replace diet soda?

It’s a good idea to substitute diet soda with plain tea or coffee, seltzer, carbonated or flavoured waters, or sparkling spirulina drinks by FUL®.

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