Do Diet Sodas Really Cause Weight Gain?

Do Diet Sodas Really Cause Weight Gain

Although there is a lack of evidence to establish whether or not diet sodas cause weight gain, it is not a good idea to drink diet soda in your weight loss journey

Although there is a lack of evidence to establish whether or not diet sodas cause weight gain, it is not a good idea to drink artificially sweetened beverages in your weight loss journey.

Despite containing zero calories, some studies have shown that diet soda can increase your cravings for sugar and high-calorie foods. So even though you may have given up high-sugar sodas, you may end up consuming more calories through other foods.

How can diet soda cause weight gain?

Animal studies have found that at least one artificial sweetener (aspartame) may affect a part of the brain that signals the animal to stop eating. 

A 2017 study published in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that rats who drank a carbonated beverage (regular or diet) ate more food and gained weight more than rats who drank water or flat soda. The study found that ghrelin levels in the stomach were higher after the rats consumed carbonated beverages compared to noncarbonated drinks. Ghrelin, also called hunger hormone, increases appetite by signaling hunger to the brain.

In addition, human studies have found that people who drink artificially sweetened drinks tend to gain more weight. The same 2017 study experimented with the effect of carbonated drinks on humans (20 students). The study found that the students who drank any kind of soda, diet soda or regular soda, had increased levels of ghrelin hormone compared to students who drank only water or flat soda.

Both animal and human studies suggest that due to the increased ghrelin release, consumption of carbonated drinks is linked to increased food cravings and weight gain.

Should you drink diet soda?

While drinking diet soda once in a while may not necessarily cause weight gain, you should not rely on it to lose weight. Monitor your calorie intake throughout the day and observe how it impacts your weight.

Ideally, it is best to limit the intake of all kinds of carbonated drinks. Better options include plain water, unsweetened tea, or fruit-infused water.

Is diet soda bad for you?

Another reason why people may quit drinking diet soda is the concern regarding the link between artificially sweetened beverages and serious diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, and certain cancers.

However, there is no strong evidence to support the claim that drinking diet soda is associated with an increased risk of these diseases.


Which is one of the few drinks to be considered a superfood?
See Answer

Medically Reviewed on 4/28/2022


Image Source: iStock Image

Park CH, Choi SH, Piao Y, et al. Glutamate and aspartate impair memory retention and damage hypothalamic neurons in adult mice. Toxicol Lett. 2000 May 19;115(2):117-25.

Eweis DS, Abed F, Stiban J. Carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages induces ghrelin release and increased food consumption in male rats: Implications on the onset of obesity. Obes Res Clin Pract. 2017 Sep-Oct;11(5):534-543.

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