There are many ways to reduce calories when starting on a personal weight loss journey. Reducing portion sizes is common, as well as making better decisions regarding food selection. One of the most common methods of reducing calories is to switch from regular colas to diet sodas.
It is standard protocol among personal trainers to ask every new client, "How many Cokes and sodas do you drink every day?"? "After all, the high fructose corn syrup found in the vast majority of soft drinks in this country is proven to be loaded with calories that send insulin levels (with a subsequent fat-storing physiological response) into the stratosphere.
Pretty simple, right? Make the switch, and you're off to the fat loss races. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case.
In 2005, Texas researchers declared that the risk of obesity increases by 41% for each can of diet soft drink that you consume. An increase of 41% for EACH can is definitely not a good scenario.
Logically, we agree that it simply doesn't make sense. Diet colas contain no calories, so how can fewer calories (compared to regular colas) lead to weight gain?
The answer to that question turns out to be fairly complex. Everyone has heard the joke, "Yes, I'd like to order a large pepperoni and sausage pizza with extra cheese, bacon, and a side of buffalo wings, please … and a diet coke. I'm on a diet! " It turns out that, intentional or not, the joke is reality for most.
There are actually two major reasons that diet sodas may actually lead to fat gain.
The first is psychological and behavioral. When people switch to diet cokes, they often start to cheat a little (or a lot) on their food intake. Someone that switches to diet colas from 4-6 regular sodas each day may logically think that they are now entitled to cheat a few times. After all … they are now doing "better". However, it's easy to rack up a few hundred extra calories having "just one more".
Next, our bodies are more adaptable and smarter than we ever give them credit for. When we ingest diet drinks, all those chemical ingredients have been shown by researchers to create an insulin response that potentially leads to fat storage, and our brain responds by stimulating our appetite. Suddenly, we are now more hungry, and it becomes more difficult to watch our portion sizes.
Overall, it's a pretty bad situation. The combination of a stimulated appetite, larger number of psychological and behavioral "cheats", and an insulin response will have you sectioning off yet another area of your closet for clothing that no longer fits.
Finally, all research aside, the real world experience of many personal trainers and fitness professionals show that the majority of their clients lose fat faster when the diet sodas are kept at bay.
The solution is clear (pun intended): many successful dieters have experienced substantial weight loss after making the switch from diet colas to plain water. Without the chemically-induced insulin response, water will help to satiate our appetite, especially when dieting. In addition, repeated research has shown that an increase in water intake correlates very well with a subsequent decrease in fat deposits.
And isn't a reduction in body fat and inches our desired outcome, anyway?
Make your fat loss journey simpler. Kick the soda habit and grab water for quicker weight loss.