Does Diet Soda Make You Fat? The Science May Surprise You

February 21, 2022

"Does diet soda make you fat?"

This is a question I received lately, and it's a very valid one. Here's why ....

There are so many food and beverage products marketed as "diet" products, meaning we think they'll either aid weight loss or prevent weight gain

But there's a problem with them: Many of them actually cause weight gain! And that's not all—thanks to the chemicals they contain, they also tend to be addicting, meaning you'll consume more and more ... resulting in even more weight gain!

One of the worst offenders? Diet soda!

Want to know more, along with some amazing alternatives to soda that taste incredible? Keep reading to discover all you need to know about that diet soda habit and what you can drink instead.


Does diet soda make you fat - Dr. Pingel


Does Diet Soda Make You Fat? The Truth About Diet Soda and Weight Gain

If you’re a diet soda drinker because you’ve been led to believe it’s a healthier alternative to regular soda, this may come as a bit of a shock.

So, what’s the answer to the question, “Does diet soda make you fat?” Simply put, yes, it can.

As reported in a 2015 study, researchers followed 749 adults aged 65 and older for almost a decade. They measured the participants’ diet soda intake, waist circumference, height, and weight at the outset and conclusion of the study.

Their findings revealed something rather explosive: The researchers found that those who drank diet soda daily had three times the waist circumference of those who never drank it. [1]

Moreover, the more diet soda the participants drank, the greater their waist circumference. As a result, the researchers surmised that the greater the diet soda consumption, the greater the odds of someone experiencing abdominal obesity.


Does diet soda make you fat - Dr. Pingel


Diet Soda and Other Health Impacts

So, now we’ve asked and answered the question: “Does diet soda make you fat?” But, given the answer, there’s more to discuss here.

After all, we know that abdominal obesity is linked to inflammation and a myriad of other health concerns, which leads us to the following question: Does diet soda make you fat and cause other health concerns?

Let’s take a look at what the research says about diet soda consumption and three important areas of your health.

1. Gut health

According to an animal study published in 2018, consuming artificial sweeteners like those found in diet soda can damage your gut and even lead to both obesity and cancer. [2]

How? These artificial sweeteners made the mice’s guts toxic and impacted their gut microbial activity.

2. Diabetes

Now that you know how the artificial sweeteners in diet soda can impact your gut health, it’s worth asking yourself this question: “Does diet soda make you fat and alter gut health and cause diabetes?”

According to a 2013 study on more than 66,000 women, those who drink both sugar-sweetened beverages as well as beverages sweetened with artificial sugars are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. But there’s more ….

Shockingly, the researchers found that in comparison to women who never drank these beverages, women who drank the most sugar sweetened beverages were 1.34 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Meanwhile, those who drank beverages sweetened with artificial sweeteners were an astonishing 2.21 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes! [3]

3. Mental health

By now, it likely feels like we’ve covered a lot of the health detriments of drinking diet soda, right?

But let’s edit our question one more time to pose the following: ““Does diet soda make you fat and alter gut health and cause diabetes and impact your mental health?”

Here’s what the research has to say: According to a 2014 study on 263,923 participants, drinking at least four diet beverages was linked to a 1.31 great risk of depression than drinking none. [4]

Interestingly, the researchers found that drinking coffee or tea without any sweetener was associated with a lower risk for depression. But when participants added in artificial sweeteners, their risk for depression increased again.


Better Alternatives to Diet Soda

If you’re a diet soda drinker, the answer to “Does diet soda make you fat?” likely left you wondering how you can kick your soda habit.

Fortunately, there are many alternatives that make for healthy swaps for diet soda.

First, if you enjoy the carbonation of diet soda, try mixing sparkling water with naturally sweet fruit juices. You can also make some fun mocktails as well!

But if you enjoy the specific flavors of soda, check out naturally sweetened soda alternatives, such as Zevia and Olipop and enjoy in moderation. Both are better than regular diet soda and Olipop even contains fiber and prebiotics to support gut health!

And while you’re making healthy changes, consider other areas of your lifestyle that could benefit from simple swaps and changes.

For example, swap out prepackaged foods that contain harmful additives and preservatives with whole foods and consider replacing that unused gym membership with a fun and effective workout tailored to your individual situation that you can do anywhere!

Remember to set yourself up for success by making small changes over time. Tackling health goals in bite-sized pieces may very well be the key to your success!

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