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Health Team

Will diet soda help you drop the pounds?

Posted February 22, 2010 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2010 7:49 p.m. EST

— When people want to lose weight, they often start cutting calories in what they drink. It's what makes diet sodas so popular, but even at zero calories those diet drinks might not help people lose the extra pounds.

“I buy into the ads that (diet sodas have) less calories,” said Charmaine Barker.

WakeMed Registered Dietician Stacey Moretz says it's the sweet taste from aspartame and Splenda that fools the body.

“They use a sweetener that's 200 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar,” Moretz said. “Our brain and body connection with what we're tasting expects calories.”

Some studies suggest that the body fools you back and makes you crave the calories it expected with that sweet taste, so it may make you hungrier and make you eat more than you would have without the soda.

Even flavored powder packets people add to water have artificial sweeteners, but Moretz suggests that it may still be a good way to wean people off drinking so many diet sodas each day and bring them back to nature's drink.

“The best option is water, absolutely, and that's another concern with these beverages, “ Moretz said. “Are they being used in place of more nutritious beverages?”

Better options are water, low-fat milk and 100 percent fruit juice, in moderation. If it's the fizz you like, try sparkling water.

Moretz says diet sodas are OK in moderation. They are still a better option than sugared soft drinks, especially for people with diabetes.