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Why I Hate Diet Coke

A while back I did a video on my YouTube channel on diet sodas. In this video I made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that I was not a fan of drinking diet sodas as a way to cut calories when trying to lose weight. This video became the most popular video on my channel with hundreds of thousands of views. It also seemed to divide the audience with some people agreeing with my views and some adamantly disagreeing. In this blog post I want to double down on my distain for diet sodas during a weight loss program and clarify exactly why I have such a strong opinion.

In our Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky weight loss offices we try to allow as much freedom as possible with our clients using various products when trying to lose weight. We do this because the easier we can make a program the more likely a client is to stick with it. We do, however, draw a hard line when it comes to diet sodas (Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi, etc.). The reason for this is simple yet complex. Let me explain…

As with any decision we make about what is best for our weight loss clients, we need to first look at the science. It is pretty clear from everything that I have read that there is a strong correlation between drinking diet sodas and weight gain. There have been a number of studies done on this subject and it is pretty clear that people who drink diet sodas have a harder time losing weight. There have even been studies done that show that people who drink diet soda gain weight at a faster rate that those who drink regular soda. The reason for this seems to be the artificial sweeteners used. In this case we are referring to aspartame and sucralose. These sweeteners have the potential to artificially raise insulin levels and disrupt gut health which may lead to difficulty with weight loss.

The argument against my view that I hear most often is that these products are 0 calories and that they cannot make you gain weight because of “calories in vs. calories out”. Sometime in the future I may write or do another video on the problem with the “calories in vs. calories out” argument. For now I am going to play devil’s advocate. Correlation, after all, does not necessarily equal causation. Just because people who drink diet soda gain weight does not necessarily mean that the diet soda caused the weight gain. What people seem to universally agree on, however, is that drinking diet sodas stimulates cravings for sweets. This is due to the fact that your brain is receiving messages that you are ingesting refined sugar but the reward of an increase energy source is never met. This causes the person drinking the artificial sweetener to crave additional sweets to satisfy this energy deficit.

When I hear this argument (which I most certainly agree with as being part of the problem) it is almost always followed with something along the lines of “If you just have strong will power and resist these cravings you will be fine”. I use to be shocked by the shortsightedness of these types of statements (sadly I have gotten use to them). If everyone had impeccable will power towards food there would be no obesity epidemic. Weight loss is extremely difficulty, not to mention unnatural. My counter argument would be “why make a difficult process even more difficult”. If the ONLY reason that Diet Coke causes weight gain is because it intensifies cravings for sweets (which again I believe is only part of the issue) that would certainly be reason enough to abstain. This is especially true because there are so many zero calorie sodas with natural sweeteners that can be used alternatively.

Certainty diet sodas can be used by most people in moderation without any negative effects. When trying to lose weight, however, I remain strongly against them.

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