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It seems self-evident that diet soda would help you lose weight.  If you eat fewer calories you lose weight, right?  There’s much more to the story.  Our bodies are marvelously complicated biological organisms which function optimally only when provided with quite specific nutrients.  Let’s take a look at how diet soda affects your body.


How diet soda makes you fat
When you eat or drink your body reacts with what is called a “cephalic phase response”.  This is simply a mechanism to prepare your digestive system to optimally process the food it is receiving based on the sensory signals the food elicits.  Sweet foods and drinks require a very specific response because your body must very carefully regulate its sugar balance.  “When a sweet taste stimulates the tongue, the brain programs the liver to prepare for acceptance of new energy, sugar, from outside.  The liver, in turn, stops manufacturing sugar from the protein and starch reserves of the body and instead begins to store the metabolic fuels that are circulating in the blood.”1
So, we drink something sweet and our body reacts by shutting down sugar production.  This effectively lowers are blood sugar by putting circulating glucose into fat storage instead of making it available for immediate use.  When no sugar is forthcoming, as in a diet soda, the body will respond to the decreased sugar levels in the blood by sending hunger signals.  Studies have shown these hunger signals can last for as much as 90 minutes, even after blood sugar levels have normalized!
Most diet sodas are high in caffeine.  Caffeine is a diuretic which will deplete your body of water.  This is why people often have many diet sodas per day but still feel thirsty.  Studies have shown that signals for thirst can be mistaken as hunger because thirst signals are typically much weaker than hunger signals.
If you’re on a steady diet of diet soda you’re going to be hungry all the time.  You’re going to be eating when your body does not need the calories, which means your body is going to store those calories as fat.  Consider the implications of this for the other zero-calorie products you may use.
How diet soda makes you sick
Aspartame is one of the more popular non-caloric sweeteners used in diet soda and is also found in brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It was developed in the 80’s and is 180 times sweeter than sugar, but has zero calories.
Aspartame contains aspartic acid and glutamic acid which act as neurotransmitters in the brain.  Neurotransmitters are chemicals which cause specific physiological responses in the body.  Aspartic acid and glutamic acid are referred to as “excitotoxins” because excessive quantities can “excite” or stimulate the neural cells to death.  This can result in neurological disorders and a host of unpleasant symptoms.
Aspartame is made of 50% phenylalanine, an amino acid normally found in the brain.  Consumption of aspartame can cause excessive levels of phenylalanine which has been shown to lower serotonin levels and can lead to emotion disorders such as depression.
You can read additional health concerns about aspartame at
This post is part of Real Food WednesdayFight Back Friday and Monday Mania .
1 Batmanghelidj, F. M.D., Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, Global Health Solutions, Inc., 2008.
Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

I’m on a mission to help you prevent and reverse chronic illness by utilizing nutrition to restore your body’s natural balance.

Contact me directly for a free 30 minute consultation.
Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

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