I want to lose weight.
I have signed up to DailyBurn to keep track of my weight with weekly weigh ins.

I was confused over the different diets available (Atkins and Paleo were top runners up), so have decided to start off with just trying to adopt a low-carb diet and see how it impacts my weight.

I see friends 2-3 times a week, and we commonly end up hitting some bars.
(This is fun and I would like to continue this)
I am not a fan of beer, but do like a whiskey and coke.
At the weekend, I switched to using Diet Coke/Coke Zero as it has significantly lower carbs/sugars than regular cola.

However - im sure there must be negative consequences from drinking these diet drinks?
What impact do diet drinks have on a low carb diet?

  • 3
    Drink straight whiskey.
    – VPeric
    Mar 25 '13 at 19:15

As the link you provided mentioned, diet drinks are able to remain sweet due to the artificial sweeteners. Those same artificial sweeteners are used in many diet oriented food products as well (check out Walden Farms products). That said, there are differences in how bad the different sweeteners are, or how much we know about their long term effects.

As the answer from Yahoo alluded to, aspartame is one of products we know has bad properties. The more "en vogue" sweeteners like splenda (sucralose) and stevia are "less bad" than aspartame. That doesn't mean they are great either. I recommend looking at the Mayo Clinic article on artificial sweeteners for an overview.

That said:

My weight loss center was entirely against diet sodas because they made your body more acidic, and as a result more susceptible to getting sick. I'm not sure if that claim was pseudo science or not, but the Self Nutrition Data site has an inflammatory index which is measuring the same concept. According to the data there, diet coke and diet Pepsi have no impact on the inflammatory index.

Diet drinks, and most sodas, coffee, and tea contain caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic if consumed in large enough quantities. Combined with the sodium content (see next paragraph) you can be thirstier after you drink the soda than before. Many people drink diet sodas in sufficient quantity for it to become a diuretic.

The last potentially bad thing from excess diet sodas is Sodium content. Coke zero seems to have fairly low sodium (30mg / 8oz of product) versus diet coke which has (40mg / 8oz of product). That said. most people drink large amounts of this, with serving sizes ranging between 16-48oz of soda. The sodium content at that point becomes a significant amount to worry about. High sodium levels are linked to hypertension (high blood pressure) as well as water retention.

At the end of the day, Water is still the ultimate diet drink. It helps you process protein better, it won't leave you dehydrated.

So, someone brought to my attention a study that suggests that artificial sweeteners raise blood sugar more than regular sugar (ref). The proposed mechanism has to do with the artificial sweeteners affecting the microbial gut bacteria. The article was an interesting read, but we can't exclude the last page which talks about the criticisms of the study. The bottom line is summed up nicely in the article:

“By no means do we believe that, based on the results of this study, we are prepared to make recommendations on the use and dosage of artificial sweeteners,” Segal said.

Elinav did say, though, that their findings have spurred him to stop using artificial sweeteners in his coffee.

He doesn’t use sugar, either. “I think we must stress that by no means are we saying sugary drinks are healthy,” Elinav said. (quoted from article)

  • 2
    +1 Water is not as fun as whiskey though. Was hoping to hear some hidden secret about getting drunk and still not affecting your diet.
    – jakc
    Jul 25 '11 at 14:02
  • Berin - PURELY as an interesting anecdote, not a scientific data point, I have been able to lose a bit of weight (one KG a week, or even more) even though I consume quite a lot (3-4 liters a week) (!) of quality wine. (I do exercise hard 400+ mins a week, and I eat only pure food, almost no sugars, almost no carbohydrates.) (Very fortunately, I do not have a sweet tooth or a "carbo tooth.") @Simon I might hesitantly suggest that the only "Secret" is, if you otherwise have a FLAWLESS diet and you are ecstatic about exercise, you can probably get drunk relatively often. Utterly forget sodas!
    – Fattie
    Jul 25 '11 at 21:15
  • @Joe, it's good that worked for you. For most people however, if the diet isn't working and you are drinking, try cutting back or cutting it out until you reach your goal. Also, there is a big difference between 3-4 liters of wine and 3-4 liters of whiskey. Whiskey has much more alcohol per volume than wine, and none of the antioxidants that wine has either. Adjust accordingly. Jul 26 '11 at 14:03
  • What bad properties does aspartame have (preferably with references to journals)?
    – pbond
    Oct 8 '13 at 23:20
  • It is misleading to say diet soda will make you thirstier, which suggests it causes dehydration, while it does not likely. Caffeine can increase diuresis but you consume much more water with soda than you lose it with increased diuresis. Many regular caffeine consumers develop resistance to most caffeine effects. Also, amounts of sodium in diet soda do not likely lead to hypertension.
    – Jan
    Oct 29 '14 at 11:36

There is a lot of misinformation and fear being spread about sodas of all kinds.

Really, drinking diet soda should not have any effect on a low carb diet for most people.

  • There are 0 calories diet soda.
  • Diet soda is 99.8% water (Can't link to USDA reference site due to government shutdown)

The main risks from diet soda are

  • Tooth enamel decay
  • Bone loss

Both of these are due to the phosphoric acid. Not drinking an excessive amount, practicing good dental hygiene and getting sufficient amounts of calcium can alleviate these risks.

There was a study done in Texas, observing people over a period of time that showed that the people who drank soda were more likely to gain weight than the people who did not. These studies were observational only, so they were unable to show cause.
WebMD has more information: Diet Sodas Cause Weight Gain? Not so Fast

Probably the thing you will hear most is health risks associated with aspartame. What essentially happened was that a study done on rats was picked up by the media and reported as aspartame causing cancer in people.

That study was later debunked, and there are no studies linking aspartame as the cause of any harmful health condition, in the amounts served with diet soda. Wikipedia has a good summary on the aspartame controversy.

In short, it's fine to drink, especially if you live a healthy lifestyle.

  • Examine.com also has lots of meta analysis and reviews that back your answer up
    – John
    Aug 16 '16 at 9:14

Get keto sticks at any pharmacy/grocery store. Vodka and your favorite diet drink will not take you out of ketosis. Wine will take you out of ketosis. So if you want to continue to process your stored carbs( fat) Stay away from wine. Once again, get some ketosis sticks and test yourself throughout the day,perhaps your matabolism is different ( I doubt it) but you will see what effects the process, and what does not. I know I lost 70lbs on a low carb diet. Google "Carbs in wine" and google "carbs in vodka" .

  • You should explain why and how you think ketostix would help.
    – rrirower
    Oct 29 '14 at 17:49
  • A low carb diet is pretty easy. You need carbs, protein, and fat to survive. When you deprive your body of carbs your body has the ability to substitute stored fat for missing carbs. When your body is converting your stored fat into carbs it is known as being into ketosis. When you want to know if you are burning your fat in place of the carbs that you are not ingesting you buy ketosis sticks.
    – Max
    Oct 30 '14 at 22:16
  • When you get keto sticks, cut them in half lengthwise and then you`ll have twice as many. You pee on them and depending on the color you will know if you are in ketosis, or you are getting too many carbs in your diet.
    – Max
    Oct 31 '14 at 3:04
  • "You need carbs, protein, and fat to survive" In fact, if you eat a diet with zero fat, you will die. If you eat a diet with zero protein, you will die. If you eat a diet with zero carbohydrates, nothing whatsoever negative will happen to you. As Max explains you must slash carbs to actually eliminate body fat. Keto sticks will let you know if you are or not.
    – Fattie
    Oct 31 '14 at 7:16

I cannot agree with any of the above. If you want to drink and lose weight, drink wine as this has the lowest carb content of any spirit with diet soda. It is the carbs and sugar that add weight. All have low or no carbs. It is better to eat and drink full fat products than carbs.

  • 2
    It is calories not carbs that add weight. Alcohol has plenty of calories.
    – Baarn
    Oct 6 '13 at 13:56
  • The one and only thing that causes glycerides to be converted to triglycerides in your body, is caused by carbohydrate intake affecting your pancreas. There is absolutely no other mechanism, for fat cells increasing fat storage, in your body. It seems to be true that to radically lose body fat, you must also moderate calorie count.
    – Fattie
    Oct 31 '14 at 7:14

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