How do zero calories soft drinks work in relation to weight gain/loss?

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Is it safe to drink non-sugary drinks (like coke zero) while on a diet? Or do the artificial sweeteners just make you fat in some sneaky way?

In: Chemistry

Hotly debated. Get ready for a firestorm.

What is known is that people who drink diet or sugar free sodas do not on average show any demonstrable health benefits compared to drinking sugared drinks. The artificial sugars still give you an insulin spike, which is the thing that is “bad” for dieting. It makes you feel hungry.

However, there are fewer calories in a sugar-free beverage. In terms of pure calories in calories out, and excluding all other factors, changing from a sugared drink to a sugar-free drink and changing nothing else at all can have a large impact on your weight.

Welcome to the wonderfulworld of nutrition, where we can’t test people in labs, so we don’t know very much for sure.

Some people think that drinking a zero-calorie drinks makes you feel like you did something “good”, so you let your guard down and end up eating more food later as a reward. Some people also think that too much artificial sweetener makes the good germs in our tummies sick, which isn’t good for us.

Also, diet sodas have aspartame as an artificial sweetener. Aspartame has been linked to migraines, and might make them worse for migraine sufferers.

While limiting your sugar and caloric intake is good for you, diet sodas are by no means a proven method for weight loss.

Zero calarie sodas have zero calories in the., meaning they won’t “make you fat” however some people believe that the sweetness of diet sodas causes you to crave other sweet things. But strictly speaking if you were on a deserted island and there was no food and you found a shipping crate of diet 7-up washed up on shore, you would still starve to death no matter how much of it you drank

They are considered pretty safe but you are right in your suspicions, lately there’s been increasing evidence that they can adversely effect metabolism and trigger issues that plain sugar can too.
So moderation as ever, is best.

From https://www.forksoverknives.com/wellness/artificial-sweeteners-can-make-you-gain-weight/
“Do we have direct evidence that diet beverages can adversely impact body weight? Yes. If you swap out diet beverages for water, there theoretically should be no difference in weight control since they both provide zero calories, right? Well, when researchers put it to the test, overweight and obese individuals on a diet randomized to replace diet beverages with water lost significantly more weight, about 15 percent more over six months.”

Here is an older study just on the nature of most sweeteners, but it is not a critique as such https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198517/

Ok so what makes you fat is energy. Energy can be stored in many forms but that doesn’t have to concern you since the total energy is on the product. Usually energy/100g or ml. Coke Zero contains about 1-2 kcal/100ml. So not 0 but not much.

Energy is given usually in two units kJ and kcal (kcal is 1000×cal = 1 Cal so Cal and kcal are the same. Idiotic system dont get confused by it.) To put things in comparison a usual adult needs 2000 kcal per day. So a glass of Coke Zero with its 3-4 kcal is not much.

How much you should eat when dieting depends on how much you move, whether you wanna build muscles or get thinner. If you move as much as a soldier or some pro athlete you can easily take 6000 kcal per day.

The reason why you should avoid even zero drinks is because they contains many other substances that aren’t healthy like phosphoric acid and caffeine. But without doubt the biggest issue with drinks is their sugar content so if you like zero drinks they wont make you fat.

The only way they are beneficial for weight loss is due to the fact that they have less calories. Which means, all other factors unchanged, you just pour less fuel into your body.
It won’t make you lose weight if you replace those calories by eating cake. It’s passive and a diet soda won’t cancel out a Twinkie as some people assume.

That being said there are pills you can take that prevent fats from being digested.

They have less calories, which is good, but they still trigger the same digestive processes as actually consuming sugar.

There is evidence to suggest that artificially sweetened sodas contribute towards diabetes in the same way that sugary sodas do.

Just my personal experience. When I was losing weight I found Coke Zero to be a life saver. I was able to satisfy my craving for sweetness and not ingest any sugar. It work very well for me. I drink it any time I want Coke now. There’s probably some other awful side effect of aspartame, who knows, but my concern at the moment is weight loss and for that, it is effective (for me).

In theory it should be fine drinking diet soda because it does not contain much calories. However artificial sweeteners do trigger a neurological response which may include things such as insulin production, digestion and your hunger. Everyone experiences different responses and they might even change over time. But we do often see people on a diet craving sweets and ending up with diet soda only to crave even more sweets and literally getting adicted to diet soda. When this still does not satisfy them they tend to crack and break their diet not only eating up to their previous food intake but even putting on weight. So the best recomendation is to avoid soda if you can and if you can not, for example in social settings, drink diet soda.

Sugar substitutes work on the premise that they’re SO MUCH sweeter than sugar that an incredibly small amount is needed to make the drink as sweet. Because of this the calories of the sweetener are essentially immeasurable for the purpose of our nutrition standards. The artificial sweetners themselves literally do not have the amount calories to make you fat.

To add, any food that is 5 calories or less is legally allowed to be labeled “zero calorie”, all the way down to the nutrition label. Tic-Tacs are “zero calorie” even though they’re just compressed sugar tablets. Even their shell is made of sugar. So zero calorie typically never is.

If you want some low calorie alternatives, consider water, tea, and coffee.

No one drinks water anymore. When did that get boring? When did that no longer quench thirst? Why does everything have to be exciting? It gets to the point where you don’t even taste that flavorful beverage anymore – it has replaced water, and thus become water.

Black coffee is 2 calories per serving. DON’T drink that shit they sell at the grocery store, and the stuff you can grind yourself there is EVEN WORSE. I won’t get into it, but what I do recommend is mail order coffee services. Typically you can buy a standard 12oz bag, at a competitive price – even if they charge you shipping, and have it arrive on a schedule. What’s most important is the roasting date, which you never see in the store. Coffee is only fresh for about a week before it’s dead and flavorless brown bean water. Getting your coffee fresh is going to change your life. Coffees from dry climates are more acidic, so perhaps you’ll want to steer away from Ethiopia. Aim for more tropical climates. You’ll taste cherries, dates, stone fruits, citrus, caramel, and cocoa (think dark chocolate that’s slightly bitter, but in a good way). If you’ve been drinking Denny’s your whole life, if you’ve never had coffee without cream or sugar (salt is better), there is a whole world out there for you. Buy whole bean, and grind it yourself.

Tea is also 2 calories per serving. Again, skip the Colonel Lipton – A) That guy spent too much time in the Sri Lanken heat, and B) grocery store tea is some of the lowest quality on the market. Go to a specialty dealer or shop online. Earl Grey or English Breakfast are both fine, just buy whole leaf, skip the tea basket, and pour through a strainer. My favorite is Lapsang Souchong, a smoked tea leaf that otherwise tastes like scotch whiskey. The Chinese are big on green teas and they steep their leaves for seconds rather than minutes – that’s how they get multiple cups out of a single serving of leaves. It also makes the tea far more subtle, because an American style steep of 2-4 minutes lands you with grass-tasting water.

Of course, you can add whole milk, a tablespoon is 15 calories. Whole milk is only 3.75% fat. The fat content, though, isn’t the big deal, it’s the sugar content. Reduced fat milks reduce the water content of the milk as a consequence, and concentrate the sugars. So skim milk is basically sugar water. Heavy cream is 36% fat, by comparison.

Whatever you drink will be filtered by your liver and kidneys.

The only neutral drink is water.

So if you need zero calories, to drink water is the better option. Also, what happens if you end your diet? You are used to heavily flavored drinks… so You may get back drinking 2 liters of Pepsi per day and you regain weight. Add in that you also become caffeine/taurine/sugar addicted.

Assuming you don’t slyly adjust your consumption (“I had a Coke Zero, I deserve a donut!”) they do not contain any calories your body can use. Without that, they do not contribute to weight gain.

They may have some minimal effect on your blood glucose, but I haven’t found that to be the case. I’ve done a 1 week and a 2 week fast, both with zero food. Water + electrolytes only. I measured my weight, blood glucose, and ketone levels 2-3 times per day. I drink Coke Zero during fasts sometimes just cause I like it, and it has no appreciable effect on my blood glucose or weight. When I’m not fasting I never drink soda.

So the simple answer is no, not directly. Indirectly? Time will tell. But they will be minor effects. Things like variations in metabolic rates and making your body “hold on to fat” and the like tend to be VASTLY overblown in the diet/fitness world. A diet coke won’t make you put on 2 donuts worth of weight when you only ate one. Your body is already very efficient at getting nutrients out of food. If it wasn’t you’d know because you’d either be sick and malnourished, or having diarrhea 24/7.

They do indeed make you fat in a sneaky way! You know how you cease to be thirsty the moment you drink something, even though it takes a while for the water to actually get around and hydrate your body? Sugar works in a similar way. The body knows you ate something sweet, so it starts to process the sugar that is currently in your bloodstream, expecting it to be replaced soon (which doesn’t happen, because you fooled your body with fake sugar, but the “damage” is done)

See, this is what is actually happening here:

The soda makers took a lot of flack from bad parents in the 1980s and 1990s who apparently can’t stop buying sodas and then getting pissed when their kids got fat.

So, to avoid Congress coming in and regulating with some sort of sugar crackdown, they all redid their recipes and also introduced low calorie drinks to trick people into thinking they’d actually changed.

Soda Zero or Diet or whatever they call it is not going to help you lose weight.

See, the soda companies did this because they were already aware that most people will never actually exercise and rather than have an argument with a bunch of idiots, they just invented a new product and got a new revenue stream all while patting you in the head and never claiming it’s a weight loss product. You believe it is because the marketing is clever.

They say “zero calories” and your brain fills in the rest.

See, to actually lose weight you have to burn calories and the only way to actually do that in a meaningful way is to exercise. It’s the same stupid mindset from health gurus who claim eating celery is negative calories. And that is true; however, you’ll lose about 1/10 of an ounce of weight for every stick of celery.

Generally, if you take in more energy in the form of food than you use by living and moving, you will gain weight. If you use more energy than you eat and drink, you will lose weight. If a drink doesn’t have something in it that the body can break down for fuel (basically carbs, proteins, fats and alcohols), then it won’t contribute to your energy intake.

How you store excess energy (fat, muscle, etc.) and whether or not you consciously or subconsciously *want* to consume excess energy is incredibly complicated and individual, based on your genes, exercise levels, what types of food you eat, what kinds of bacteria live in your gut, and probably a million other things what we know anywhere from a lot to a tiny amount about.

My understanding is that some of no calorie sweeteners, like aspartame, convert to alcohol while digesting

One effect of any alcohol is the liver is busy detoxifying and fat gets stored for later instead of processed

A lot of these comments are wrong and based on theories people have, examples:

>*”Best thing to do is to not drink it, so your body isn’t expecting sugar/cals and won’t produce the chems to store and process it”*
>
>*”You would still starve to death no matter how much of it you drank”*

Both are very wrong. In terms of weight loss, zero calorie beverages can help remove sugary cravings you might have, feel like a 150cal bar of chocolate?, have a zero calorie drink instead. They fill the stomach also adding to a feeling of fullness. In terms of gut microbiology it might not be the best thing in the world but using them in moderation is an ideal way to supplement for weight loss (ask anyone that’s actually lost weight or dieted extremely hard for a bodybuilding show for example… [Reference of this](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNIK975W3SI)). I’m not sure what “chems” your body will produce (someone wrote that not knowing what they were talking about) but more work for the body means a raised metabolism, means more weight loss. You’ll know when you’ve had enough when you get indigestion, stomach pain, diarrhea. **Use in moderation**.

You could also hypothetically survive drinking solely zero calorie beverages as most do have some small amount of calories. They do however round down on the label per serving size. So you’d need a lot, but you could still survive.

They won’t make you fat in some sneaky way as long as you stay loyal to your diet and don’t go looking for foods to blame when you know you ate 500cals over maintenance. The important thing is to use them in moderation in conjunction with a consistent diet. The answer you’re looking for can be found in the video linked that was uploaded just a week ago.

Artificial sweeteners are definitely less fattening than sugar, at least in the short run.

Some people are worried that over the long run they’ll teach your body not to associate sweetness with food value, so you’ll start eating more because your sweet thing doesn’t feel like food. Some other people are worried that some artificial sweeteners might be chronic cumulative poisons, so people will eventually start getting sick from them in a few decades and by then it’ll be too late to do anything about it. But if you want to lose weight right now and aren’t worried about those uncertain long-term effects, there’s no doubt that artificial sweeteners work better than an equivalent amount of sugar.