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The Diet Soda Dilemma: Do Diet Sodas Aid in Weight Loss More Than Water?

Updated: Jan 14

Anchor to Life blog post:  Do diet sodas aid in weight loss more than water?

I subscribe to a monthly research review newsletter called "Body by Science" by an exercise science professor named Bill Campbell, PhD. In November's newsletter, he reviewed 2 articles on whether drinking diet soda (or artificially sweetened beverages) are better for weight loss than water. Since I wrote in my newsletter last week about the importance of water in the diet, I thought this blog post is a good follow up to that idea.

Picture of soda
Diet Soda vs Water in Weight Loss

So here's the scoop: Bill Campbell compared 2 studies on weight loss and the effects of diet soda vs water. The first study by Peters, et al., 2014 entitled The Effects of Water and Non-Nutritive Sweetened Beverages on Weight Loss During a 12 week weight loss Treatment Program found that there was a statistically greater weight loss from drinking diet drinks as opposed to drinking water.

Graphic of soda better than water
Diet soda is better for weight loss than water

The next study by Madjd, et al., 2015 entitled Effects on Weight Loss in Adults of Replacing Diet Beverages with Water During a Hypoenrgetic Diet: A Randomized, 24 -Wk Clinical Trial came up with the opposite conclusion - that water is more effective than diet drinks in weight loss.

graphic of water better than diet soda
Water is better than diet soda for weight loss

Without getting into the nitty gritty of the research (which Bill Campbell most definitely does, and if you want the articles shoot me a message and I'll send then your way!), it's a draw. There are many factors that go into weight loss. The number one factor is that you need to be in a caloric deficit, meaning you need to eat less than you burn.

Here's my opinion on the matter: I used to be a hard core Diet Coke drinker. I used to get the 32 oz Quik Trip full of Diet Coke EVERY DAY! I loved the snap of the bubbles in my mouth and I leaned in on that drink when I was hungry and I didn't want to eat food (keep in mind there was also caffeine in that drink that also curbs hunger). I have switched from my Diet Coke days to decaffeinated tea and I'm a hard core coffee drinker (I drink it black). And while I don't sweeten my coffee, I do use Stevia (a non-nutritive sweetener) to satisfy my sweet tooth.

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Alternative to water for weight loss

If you're trying to lose weight, drinking water IS important. You should drink half your weight in ounces of water. If you weight 200 pounds, you should be drinking 100 ounces of water or 12.5 cups of water (8oz size). Some people just plain don't like water, and I get it. While all of your fluid intake shouldn't be from non-nutritive sweetener sources (diet drinks, no calorie sports drinks, etc), some is OK. Especially if you're replacing a caloric dense drink (i.e. - Starbucks mocha or a regular Mountain Dew) with a diet drink, you're reducing calorie counts right off the bat.

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Conclusion to drinking diet soda vs water

Final thoughts? Go grab your reusable water bottle and see how many ounces of water it holds. Figure out how many bottles you need to drink to achieve your water goal. Here's a link to my favorite stainless steel water bottle, it comes in a variety of sizes, but I like the 24 oz as it fits in my cupholder! If you want a diet drink or a non-calorie water enhancer, for weight loss, go for it!


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