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Don't Worry, It's Diet

For years, there has been debate on whether or not diet sodas are good for you, or worth drinking on a diet, or beneficial to your weight loss, or even, well, cancerous (yup!).

Different individuals may sprout different theories on what they believe, depending on what school of thought they were coming from; i.e. a caloric deficit will result in a weight loss outcome, or, if it isn’t quote on quote organic, it has no business being put into your body.

Below is some insight into a new study done by researchers at Harvard on this topic.

To Begin:

Diet sodas are consistently marketed as a weight loss tool due to their little, to no, caloric output. Growing evidence, however, supports just the opposite. Research suggests that diet soda actually promotes weight gain according to a Harvard study published in PLOS.

After tracking low-calorie sweetener consumers for 10 years, Vasanti Malik, a researcher at Harvard, discovered that low-calorie sweetener users were significantly heavier, had larger waist sizes, and had tracked more obesity than non low-calorie sweetener users.

Additionally, a previous study also found that drinking diet soda was associated with an almost doubled risk of becoming overweight or obese, though another study showed that after only 6 months of consumption, people who replaced sugary soft drinks with diet beverages lost weight after six months.

What it means:

There are still going to be conflicting ideas over this argument, and all in all, people will probably continue to do what they want to do concerning this issue. Without a clear cut answer, scientists will question both sides of this phenomenon, though consumers seem to have begun to listen to these “less promising” reports.

On the whole, the country has begun more of a health kick, cutting diet soda consumption by more than 27% in the last decade alone. The product went from making up nearly 30% of all of the carbonated beverages sold, to about 25% relatively quickly.

Which is a good thing, because of some of the research Brooke Alpert had done for her book, The Sugar Detox, insists that diet sodas have more intense flavor than real sugar, so over time products like diet soda dull our senses to naturally sweet foods like fruit. Even more troubling, she wrote, these sugar stand-ins have been shown to have the same effect on your body as sugar—they trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain.

Following these trends, companies like PepsiCo announced that it was cutting all of the aspartame from its Diet products due to consumer demands, and instead replacing it with sucralose, which is also known by the name of Splenda.

Some newer products, such as Zevia, have taken this a step further and began to experiment with stevia – an herbal extract that some claim is safer, and provides better taste than its counterparts.

How it ends:

There is really no telling for sure what to make of Harvard’s study, though the trends are beginning to shift in support. Healthier crazes are hitting the nation on what seems like a weekly basis, promoting more fruitful options for consumers, which are now becoming more readily and more easily available.

The cold hard facts presenting that artificially sweetened drinks and their impact on your health is less clear, but it does point to potential trouble. So, basically, if you’re weaning yourself off of regular soda, drinking a bit of diet soda for a short period might be better overall for your health and weight, as it may allow you to keep your sanity while losing some excess sugar, but if you aren’t hooked on sugary drinks, it may be best to just stick with water, as replacing sugar with fake stuff may not be doing your body any favors, and could actually be harmful. Why take the chance?

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