Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

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Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Enigma » 2016-01-03 08:35pm

I'm trying to lose weight but I'm going for more of a lifestyle change than doing diets. A few years ago in my previous job, I made the mistake of a habit of drinking a gallon of sweet tea or Kool Aid. I worked with plastic injection machines and they generate tremendous amounts of heat. Add to that the shifts lasted longer and glug glug glug went the sweet tea (I really can't say that without saying "Sweetie". lol). Needless to say, I gained weight. Fortunately I lost a bit of it when I switched to assembly and went from one gallon a day to one gallon a week, but I wasn't losing enough.

I didn't think much of it when I switched to a better paying job. Unfortunately, getting paid more ended with me eating more and lo and behold, weight gain. It didn't help that I was drinking two to three cans of Pepsi at night working third shift and then another one or two at home.

It came as a shock last April when I was being evaluated for eligibility for a cochlear implant that my weight went up to 320lbs. I immediately cut down on my soft drink intake to about one can a day and by the beginning of June when I had my surgery, I lost almost 20lbs. But somehow, between then and my last visit with my surgeon at the end of October I went stupid and weighed 330lbs.

Since then I've been trying to watch what I eat and drink. I've all but completely cut off drinking caffeinated beverages, looked for better low calorie snacks (still looking), and decent filling lunch that isn't heavy on salt and isn't high on calories.

But the sticking point is what I drink during my shift. I've tried just water but it doesn't help me curb my appetite. My body always has the urge to eat and I'm trying to avoid snacking outside of my break and lunch. Just drinking water does squat. Drinking soft drinks helped but since I stopped taking in caffeine I needed something else. So now I've been drinking Diet Sprite or Diet 7up. Both contain no sugar and is caffeine and calorie free. Plus it has helped me remove the need to snack.

Now I'm seeing that diet soft drinks may be worse on your health than regular soft drinks. I cannot find any conclusive evidence whether or not they are harmful. So I have come here to ask, are they harmful? Is it a good idea to drink diet soft drinks? Any conclusive whether or not they are bad for you? Thank you.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Jaepheth » 2016-01-03 09:25pm

Ask your doctor.

My understanding is that they're safe to drink, but don't count on losing much weight with them.

I believe the mechanism works something like: the sweet sensation gets the insulin pumping, but since there's no actual sugar there for it to absorb you either get hungrier or absorb more of the last sugars/carbs/whatever you ate last.


Seriously though, ask your doctor.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Enigma » 2016-01-03 09:29pm

Jaepheth wrote:Ask your doctor.

My understanding is that they're safe to drink, but don't count on losing much weight with them.

I believe the mechanism works something like: the sweet sensation gets the insulin pumping, but since there's no actual sugar there for it to absorb you either get hungrier or absorb more of the last sugars/carbs/whatever you ate last.


Seriously though, ask your doctor.


Not much help there. One doctor suggests drinking diet over regular and another says not to drink it at all.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Jub » 2016-01-03 09:33pm

I can't speak about diet soft drinks, but would you consider drinking black/herbal tea with honey? It could give that feeling of fullness, without being as bad for you.

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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Soontir C'boath » 2016-01-03 09:39pm

Or perhaps Gato/Powerade? If you are dehydrating, it may well be what you need given the circumstances.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby biostem » 2016-01-03 09:49pm

There are a few other factors as well:

1. Which artificial sweetner said softdrink uses matters a lot. Some, like aspartamine are certainly not good for you, while others, like stevia, are pretty much neutral.

2. The carbonation and resulting acidity from the carbonic acid may have other effects on you - such as feeling bloated, causing an upset stomach, etc.

3. Whether the drink contains caffeine may help by keeping your metabolism up, but there's also the side effects of "crashing" when it wears off, or other such results.


In short, water is always the best choice, but barring that, I'd look for something with setvia or maybe sucralose instead of the older artificial sweetners, and always try not to overdo it.

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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Jub » 2016-01-03 09:53pm

Soontir C'boath wrote:Or perhaps Gato/Powerade? If you are dehydrating, it may well be what you need given the circumstances.


That stuff has as many or more calories than full sugar soft drinks, and the low-calorie ones have the same issues as diet.

-----

biostem wrote:There are a few other factors as well:

1. Which artificial sweetner said softdrink uses matters a lot. Some, like aspartamine are certainly not good for you, while others, like stevia, are pretty much neutral.


Would you like to post the studies to back this up? As I understand it the aspartame thing is something of a myth brought about by poor study methodology and a misunderstanding of what it breaks down into.

2. The carbonation and resulting acidity from the carbonic acid may have other effects on you - such as feeling bloated, causing an upset stomach, etc.


Where did Enigma bring this up as an issue?

3. Whether the drink contains caffeine may help by keeping your metabolism up, but there's also the side effects of "crashing" when it wears off, or other such results.


He specifically said he wanted to avoid caffeine... Did you even read the OP?

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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby TheFeniX » 2016-01-03 11:25pm

A. Not a doctor
B. My diet is shit.
C. Only offering my personal experience.

I drink a metric shitton of soda. Back when I was younger, around 18-20, I did the math and I was taking in upwards of 3000 calories a day in pure sugar. I drank like 2 12-packs a day. I ballooned up to 250 lbs once I moved out on "my own" and my mom was no longer around to monitor the garbage I was eating/drinking. This was when the soda pounding began. My roommates cooking didn't help. I swapped to Diet Coke and dropped about 25 lbs without changing my diet in any other way. This was over the course of a few months. The rest came off when we did an Atkins diet binge and didn't fuck it up by gorging after the diet was over. Got me down to around 205lbs. (I'm about 6'3", so I was "slim" for the first time since high school).

I cannot stand water. It gives me heartburn when I drink it like I do soda and it makes me hungry as Hell. When my doctors have done blood-work and take my diet into consideration, they check their charts a dozen times when all my tests come back normal. It's been about 15 years now: diet Coke with Tea thrown in about 25% of the time. My weight gain comes from when the wife and I get busy at work and we have to order out more for dinner.

Only in the past 2 years has my blood pressure become, as the doctor said, "elevated." But he attributes that to food intake, not the soda. We get stupid busy at work, and I eat more burgers from hole-in-the-walls, but I keep the Diet Cokes coming. As said, you have to be careful, you can get hungry when drinking Diet Soda. I do not, for reasons I don't know. But pound for pound: X calories > 0 calories.

The bad side of this, if it can be called that: I cannot deal with sugar that well anymore. Drinking a regular Coke literally gives me a buzz. Not joking in the slightest. A Gatorade can give me the shakes, even when working in the heat. So I stick with artificially sweetened teas.

TL;DR: Drink Tea and water.

If you're like me and you can't give up soda: Diet Soda is probably the way to go. The shit isn't going to give you cancer. From what I know, the doctor who "proved that" was injecting aspartine directly into rats blood streams and it gave them massive tumors. So, yea: don't inject shit into your vein. If the shit actually does give you cancer: I guess it's a trade off since regular coke isn't exactly that healthy either.

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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Broomstick » 2016-01-04 03:51am

Enigma wrote:Now I'm seeing that diet soft drinks may be worse on your health than regular soft drinks. I cannot find any conclusive evidence whether or not they are harmful.

Your last statement is important here – there is no evidence that diet soft drinks are worse than regular ones. Part of the problem is the correlation between diet soft drinks and crappy diet and lifestyle. While it does not hold true in all cases, all too many people with lousy diets and lifestyles think switching to diet soda will somehow magically make things better, the classic case being the person who double-orders shitty fast-food grease-and-salt burgers and fries then orders a diet drink as a “healthy” choice. The problem there is not the beverage.

The question for you is as much “would switching to diet drinks improve my diet and make me healthier than what I've been doing?” as it is “are diet drinks healthy?”.

The ideal beverage, from a dietitian's standpoint, is plain water. However, like many people, you have issues with drinking just water. The problem is that most readily available substitutes that come already prepared are heavy on the sugar. Except for the diet drinks. People will say “drink tea” or “drink juice” but that doesn't help your weight issues if those drinks have just as many calories as sodas, and they generally do. Ditto for Gatorade.

The potential issues with diet sodas are 1) problems with your body sensing the intake of something sweet and throwing off your insulin, which can be minimized or eliminated by only drinking these beverages at meals where your body has real calories to work with, 2) some people have issues with carbonation, 3) some people have issues with dyes (which, if you're drinking the clear sodas isn't usually a problem), and 4) sodas are acidic which can screw up your teeth, but you can avoid that by, again, only ingesting them at mealtimes rather than continuously sipping them throughout the day and, if you can't brush your teeth after meals, at least rinsing your mouth with water after you're done with everything. If you get thirsty between meals that's when you drink water.

If you tolerate the beverages and switching them has resulted in a weight loss then it's a net benefit. If you're overweight, lowering that number is usually a good thing.

Jub wrote:I can't speak about diet soft drinks, but would you consider drinking black/herbal tea with honey? It could give that feeling of fullness, without being as bad for you.

Honey is sugar. Beverages sweetened with honey can contain just as many or more calories as beverages sweetened with sugar or HFCS or whatever else you care to name.

Now, if you do what I do – brew your own tea at home take it with you, so you have absolute control over what's in it – that might be a lower calorie choice but most people these days have had taste buds trained to a LOT of sweetness. I've had people taste my tea and complain it isn't sweet at all.

For a quick comparison, with all values adjusted for an 8 oz serving:

Broomstick's tea: 30 calories/serving

Lipton honey ice tea: 48 calories/serving

Lipton sweet tea: 80 calories/serving

Arizona lemon ice tea: 90 calories/serving

Snapple Lemon ice tea: 100 calories/serving

Pepsi: 100 calories/serving (the can says higher because they're more than 8 ounces)

Of course, brewing your own and taking it with you can be a pain – I brew my lunch tea simultaneously with my breakfast tea, so that's not the problem, it's having to bottle it every morning, save the container, wash the container, etc. but I don't mind it, I like the taste better, and that's my healthy alternative.

If you don't want to do all that and you need to lose weight then switching to diet soda is a perfectly valid option. Even more so if it actually works. Is it the absolutely ideal and perfect option? No, but don't discard the good in search of the perfect.

biostem wrote:There are a few other factors as well:

Which artificial sweetener said softdrink uses matters a lot. Some, like aspartamine are certainly not good for you, while others, like stevia, are pretty much neutral.

This is questionable at best, possibly bullshit.

The only proven bad effect of aspartamine is on people with phenylketonuria or PKU. If you had that condition you'd know about it. It can also worsen the tardive dyskinesia effects of some psychiatric medications, but if you had schizophrenia you'd know about that, too. The rest of the reliably reported effects can be attributed to individual sensitivities, which can be an issue for anything ingested, and correlation rather than causation. Yes, there is a recommended daily intake you shouldn't exceed, but unless you're drinking around 18 cans of soda a day you aren't hitting it.

Stevia is not entirely innocuous. Again, people too readily assume that because it's “natural” it's automatically OK or better for you. Stevia can trigger allergic reactions in people allergic to chrysanthemums, marigolds, ragweed or daisies due to being a related plant. In some people it causes an upset stomach or nausea. It has been known to induce dizziness, numbness, and body aches in some people. Finally, it lowers blood pressure. While this can often be a good thing, if you're already on the low end of normal blood pressure (which I am) or taking blood pressure medication this can be a bad thing.

So, really, both aspartamine and stevia are fine for most people, but not all, and are potentially very bad for some.

The carbonation and resulting acidity from the carbonic acid may have other effects on you - such as feeling bloated, causing an upset stomach, etc.

True – although stevia can have the same effect in some people.

Whether the drink contains caffeine may help by keeping your metabolism up, but there's also the side effects of "crashing" when it wears off, or other such results.

This is true – caffeine does increase your calorie burn a bit. It's a drug. The same people who want you to drink water and only water and nothing but water will also want you to give up caffeine as well. I should point out that many beverages labeled “de-caffeinated” still contain some caffeine, as does chocolate.

In short, water is always the best choice, but barring that, I'd look for something with setvia or maybe sucralose instead of the older artificial sweetners, and always try not to overdo it.

Sucralose works as a non-calorie sweetener by not being absorbed by the body. That means if you consume excessive amount you can wind up with bloating, gas/farts, and diarrhea. “Excessive” will vary from person to person because everyone's system is different.

Shorter version: consuming too much of anything is a bad thing. Diet drinks/artificial sweeteners in moderation are OK for most people. If it's not water try to stick to only drinking it during mealtimes.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Edi » 2016-01-04 06:41am

In people who are prone to suffering from migraine, the artificial sweeteners like aspartame and acesulfame can trigger a migraine attack. A friend of mine suffers from this, he doesn't need to drink more than a glass of any diet soda to get a migraine with aural effects that will lay him low for several hours. He's not the only one, several of my coworkers also know one or more people with similar problems.

So, depending on a lot of things, they can be bad for you, but there are no hard and fast rules. Personally, I've cut my soda intake by about 90% since last summer and I drink tea almost exclusively. Brew it myself, no added sugar, so it is really low calorie stuff.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby General Zod » 2016-01-04 09:12am

I think it's just a matter of picking your poison if you don't want to give them up altogether. I've made the switch from regular coke to diet coke, and now whenever I try drinking regular coke it tastes funny and even unpleasant to me, I don't think you can necessarily make the argument that one is significantly healthier than the other. Then again I have a rather bad Red Bull addiction so I'm probably not the most helpful person to be commenting on this sort of thing.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Lord Revan » 2016-01-04 11:16am

Edi wrote:In people who are prone to suffering from migraine, the artificial sweeteners like aspartame and acesulfame can trigger a migraine attack. A friend of mine suffers from this, he doesn't need to drink more than a glass of any diet soda to get a migraine with aural effects that will lay him low for several hours. He's not the only one, several of my coworkers also know one or more people with similar problems.

also this isn't a universal thing either as I'm prone to migrenes but artificial sweeteners don't trigger it for me. Basically as Edi stated there's no hard and fast rule here.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Thanas » 2016-01-04 11:55am

I've been going without any sugary drinks for over a month now. What I did instead is try to have some fresh lemons around and squeeze their juice into the water. Improved the taste immensely.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Elheru Aran » 2016-01-04 12:07pm

Some people don't like the flavor of citrus in their water without any sweetening though. Not everybody likes tart. Personally I have never been a fan of flavoured waters-- while I appreciate the notion of trying to make it taste like not water... that seems to be rather missing the point. If you want water, drink water. If the local water doesn't taste good, get bottled water or filter it yourself.

In general beverages that you make yourself will be better than beverages you purchase though, as long as you don't go overboard with whatever sweetener you're using. My mother makes her sweet tea with half and half sugar and artificial sweetener, for example. I prefer to just use sugar, but less than most people do-- only about three-quarters cup of sugar to a gallon of tea, and I could go less without changing the taste much if I'm not going to drink the tea the same day as it seems to concentrate when kept in the fridge.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Edi » 2016-01-04 03:00pm

For me, lemon or lime in the water makes it better, but cold clear water by itself is good. When I drink soda, I want it to have real sugar. The artificial sweeteners taste like shit and I can unerringly pick the difference between diet and regular soda (not everyone can). High fructose corn syrup also tastes like crap, as I've found out when I've tasted some American imports, IIRC some ice tea sweetened with that. But by and large, I do without because of the tea.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Broomstick » 2016-01-04 06:03pm

I prefer real sugar, too, although if I'm thirsty I can tolerate artificial stuff if that's the only thing available.

A lot of US stores are starting to offer Coca-Cola bottled in Mexico, where they use real sugar instead of HFCS, even though there's a definite mark-up for it.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Elheru Aran » 2016-01-04 06:25pm

Broomstick wrote:A lot of US stores are starting to offer Coca-Cola bottled in Mexico, where they use real sugar instead of HFCS, even though there's a definite mark-up for it.


Case in point: my work (Home Depot) offers both Mexican and regular Cokes (presumably as we have a lot of Hispanics passing through given the number of them working in the trades). Mexican Coke, 12oz for 1.39. Regular Coke, plastic bottle, 16oz for 99c.

There have been a few sodas which advertise the whole made with real sugar thing-- the usual hipster beverages that cost three bucks a bottle, 'throwback' original recipes of current beverages using retro packaging, and so forth-- but soda with real sugar is definitely a major rarity, I suspect because HFCS is simply the industry standard.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Napoleon the Clown » 2016-01-04 11:28pm

HFCS is the industrial standard because corn subsidies make the stuff damn cheap, and cane sugar lost a ton of popularity because of tariffs on it.

From what I've seen, diet soda is less bad than the extremely sugary crap most people drink. That doesn't mean it's good for you, but if you absolutely must have something with a bit of flavor to trick your brain into thinking you're getting something in you, it's a better choice than sugar soda. To my knowledge, there aren't any good studies indicating aspartame is a meaningful risk to your health when consumed in sane quantities.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-01-04 11:44pm

Another option is to use the usual horrible sodas, but dilute them at home by mixing them with large amounts of water. Say, one part soda or juice to three parts water.

That way, you intake less calories (not NO calories, but likely to become a much smaller share of your diet). But it still tastes like (watered-down) something, assuming drinking actual water is a problem. You're more hydrated, less negatively affected by whatever bad stuff is in the beverage, and you get a minimal sugar and caffeine rush that may help your body not shut down if it's accustomed/addicted to that.

It's also cheap because you can turn two liters of soda/juice/tea/whatever into six or eight liters of beverage for free, whereas diet soda costs as much as regular per unit volume.

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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Ralin » 2016-01-05 08:23am

Simon_Jester wrote:Another option is to use the usual horrible sodas, but dilute them at home by mixing them with large amounts of water. Say, one part soda or juice to three parts water.

That way, you intake less calories (not NO calories, but likely to become a much smaller share of your diet). But it still tastes like (watered-down) something, assuming drinking actual water is a problem. You're more hydrated, less negatively affected by whatever bad stuff is in the beverage, and you get a minimal sugar and caffeine rush that may help your body not shut down if it's accustomed/addicted to that.

It's also cheap because you can turn two liters of soda/juice/tea/whatever into six or eight liters of beverage for free, whereas diet soda costs as much as regular per unit volume.


That sounds absolutely disgusting.

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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Ralin » 2016-01-05 08:23am

Simon_Jester wrote:Another option is to use the usual horrible sodas, but dilute them at home by mixing them with large amounts of water. Say, one part soda or juice to three parts water.

That way, you intake less calories (not NO calories, but likely to become a much smaller share of your diet). But it still tastes like (watered-down) something, assuming drinking actual water is a problem. You're more hydrated, less negatively affected by whatever bad stuff is in the beverage, and you get a minimal sugar and caffeine rush that may help your body not shut down if it's accustomed/addicted to that.

It's also cheap because you can turn two liters of soda/juice/tea/whatever into six or eight liters of beverage for free, whereas diet soda costs as much as regular per unit volume.


That sounds absolutely disgusting.

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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby General Zod » 2016-01-05 09:23am

Ralin wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:Another option is to use the usual horrible sodas, but dilute them at home by mixing them with large amounts of water. Say, one part soda or juice to three parts water.

That way, you intake less calories (not NO calories, but likely to become a much smaller share of your diet). But it still tastes like (watered-down) something, assuming drinking actual water is a problem. You're more hydrated, less negatively affected by whatever bad stuff is in the beverage, and you get a minimal sugar and caffeine rush that may help your body not shut down if it's accustomed/addicted to that.

It's also cheap because you can turn two liters of soda/juice/tea/whatever into six or eight liters of beverage for free, whereas diet soda costs as much as regular per unit volume.


That sounds absolutely disgusting.


I can't stand soda that's been diluted. Defeats the whole point as far as I see it.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Broomstick » 2016-01-05 09:29am

On the other hand, I have developed a taste for diluted fruit juice... which is also the basis of those liquid "water enhancers" you see for sale these days. Some of which are full of crap and some of which are OK.

Basically, although there are even better alternatives diet soft drinks aren't poison.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby SCRawl » 2016-01-05 10:00am

What I've been doing for the past year or so is diluting my soft drinks -- not with water, but with diet soft drinks. At roughly five parts Coke Zero to one part Coke (non-Zero), this takes away the worst of the "empty" taste of the diet drink, while keeping the added empty calories at a fairly low level.

On sale I can get the 6x710mL packs for about $2, which is a reasonable price.
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Re: Are Diet Soft Drinks Bad for You?

Postby Raw Shark » 2016-01-05 10:04am

As much to blend meta-topics for its own sake as to be informative, I find the sugar content and mouthfeel of juices with healthy vitamins much more tolerable when combined with diet soda, especially Canada Dry Diet Ginger Ale, in a roughly 50/50 proportion. It goes especially well with orange juice.

Generally-speaking, diet sodas tend to have a lot of sodium, but are relatively harmless compared to regular sodas if you're not sensitive to that, and regular soda isn't exactly low-sodium, either, usually.

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