Put The Diet Coke Down

September 30, 2014   50 Comments

I know what you are thinking, “No, Snack Girl, you put it down.”

Do Artificial Sweeteners Lead to Diabetes?

All right, I will. In truth, I stopped drinking Diet Coke when I became pregnant with my daughter, Ruby, about 10 years ago.

I didn’t pick it back up again because I got hooked on coffee.

Why should YOU put it down? It doesn’t have any calories so it isn’t adding to the size of your hips.

Saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame has been linked to a marked intolerance to glucose. Type 2 Diabetes is caused by glucose intolerance, which means the body is less able to cope with large amounts of sugar.

You don’t want to be glucose intolerant if you can help it.

Many people substitute artificial sweetener for sugar because they want something sweet and they want to lose weight. The problem is that artificial sweeteners may not help in weight loss – some studies even show weight gain when participants use them.

My conclusion is that Diet Coke may not help you lose weight and could hurt your health if you drink many Diet Cokes over a long period of time.

I can hear some of you saying, “But I gave up Oreos, Doritos, and bacon and cheese on my hamburgers! I am not giving up my Diet Coke! Hey, the FDA approved these sweeteners so they must be safe.”

It is very difficult to prove that artificial sweeteners increase glucose intolerance in humans (the study was done in mice) and so it might be a bit preliminary to toss them out, BUT why not make a healthier choice anyway?

Could this new information push you over the edge and away from your habit? You don't want to get diabetes from the artificial sweeteners you are using to avoid getting diabetes!

A few suggestions:

  • Give up Diet Coke for a day. The next day – take a sip. How does it taste? Is it really that good?
  • Put all the money you spend at the vending machine in a jar and at the end of the week – spend it on some new fancy underwear (who doesn’t love new underwear?).
  • Try sparkling water with a twist of lime or lemon. You will be the envy of the work lunchroom.

Do you have a diet soda habit? Have you thought about giving it up?

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What about Stevia? Would that also be considered a counterproductive sugar substitute?

Diet coke is truly addictive. I'm trying to quit and have only had one in the last three months, but I find that I crave it. I hope the cravings go away over time.

STOP DRINKING DIET COKE YESTERDAY....TODAY MAY BE TOO LATE. Do you want a TWO INCH (yes! two inches)? You can have mine, which had to be surgically removed in two separate operations because it was so big. Can't prove it was from Diet Coke, but I was addicted to it and it is the only excess that I engaged in for fifty years (I drank other diet drinks, also).

I feel so much better, lost weight, and look younger since I stopped drinking that 'legal liquid poison." I should have listened to my kids who blamed my Diet Coke addiction every time I complained of s physical ailment. They claimed that cigarettes were harmless when I was a kid. Read the ingredients for Diet Coke and tell me it's a healthy drink. STOP DRINKING DIRT COKE YESTERDAY! Today may be too late.

Is it just Diet Coke? Seems like Coke is getting the bad rap, isn't it "ALL" diet drinks? I do not drink diet drinks because I don't like the taste but it seems like all diet drinks would be bad for you...

I would also like to hear your opinion of Stevia, although it is a sugar substitute they claim it is derived from natural plant. So is it good or bad?? I use it because I drink green tea (4 to 5 20 oz cups)all day and I don't want all that extra sugar, because I can't seem to do it with none. I value your opinion and would love to hear what you have to say on Stevia (I use the truvia). Thanks Lisa keep up the great work.

I was addicted to Diet Coke and finally gave it up. I tried a sip from my daughters drink a couple of years ago and it tasted awful. Took a lot of effort and a few headaches but so worth it to give it up.

All things in moderation, is my motto. Your philosophies are usually sound. Surprised at you on this, or maybe you are just following the trends to have column material?

I gave up all artificial sugars 10 years agon while pregnant also. I stopped drinking anything except water (an occasional glass of wine) five years ago. I don't miss the sodas, juices, and other sweet drinks at all.

hi, I'm Jasper and I am a Diet Coke Addict. (Room: Hi, Jasper). It's been about a year since I had my last Diet Coke. My head is clearer then it ever has been and you wouldn't believe all the money I've saved by not buying soda everyday. I've found love for unsweetened tea or water with a little lemon. Giving up diet coke was the best thing I've done for my health. Now if I can just lose all the weight I put on over the years drinking a "diet" drink. Slowly but surely it is coming off. :)

My addiction was to Diet Pepsi - same thing, just as bad for you. Not a single ingredient on the label has any nutritional value. I gave it up years ago when I started Weight Watcher's (again). Rarely do I have a Diet Pepsi - only when there are no other options. I figure that's the 'moderate' side of me coming out. But for the most part, my habit is no where near what it used to be...only took a few months to stop the craving.

I drink soda as a treat like twice a month. I don't keep it in the house so my kids don't have it a lot either. The times I do drink it, I only drink Sprite or Ginger ale. I never was a Coke drinker even when I drank a dark soda it was to carbonated.

What about drinks such as Crystal Light? Are those as bad as Diet sodas?

I never got into drinking anything with artificial sweeteners in them. Reading the results from how the mice react to them and seeing family members become addicted to diet sodas and gain weight were enough for me. But then I got fibromyalgia and found that aspartame does cause pain flare up I go out of my way to avoid the stuff as much as possible. I can't even buy a pack of gum that doesn't contain aspartame. I do take queue's from my body when I eat or drink something and one of the things I experience when I've had something that has aspartame is a breathing issue. I have a hard time breathing. There has been studies done on the side effects and they are very serious effects ranging from something as simple as diarrhea to seizures. If you want to read more up on it here's a link

I don't drink colas regularly, so does the 'once or twice a month' diet coke apply here? That said, I don't like the feel of sugar coating my tongue after drinking a sugar-loaded soda.

I use stevia in my coffee, so I would hope that it's okay to use, since I drink a lot of coffee.

I can't have any artificial sweeteners they are headache inducers for me. They show up in everything so I have to be really careful about label reading. Even Reb-A shows up in orange juice. Also, for folks that mentioned Stevia--people on blood pressure meds should not eat Stevia. There's more information about that particular danger with Stevia on WebMD. Also, Truvia (created by the soda industry) is made using 40 chemical compounds. Only real sugar, honey (from our own bees!) and maple syrup in my house. :)

Hi, great article.

I have a question, I know about aspartam but as the lady above, what about stevia or agave syrup, does it have the same issue?

Have a good day

I have given up soda now for about 6 months - and have tried to steer as clear as possible of sugar - you know what? I don't have the cravings I used to - if I am hungry I eat something and am satisfied. If you had told me sugar/soda was the cause of cravings and never feeling satisfied I would have laughed. I can only say for me it is true - I feel like, for the first time in my life, I have a normal relationship with food. AMAZING - yes I also worked out and watched what I ate but this time it is totally different. I have dropped 30 lbs and I don't feel like every day is a struggle between me and wanting to eat everything I see! Try it - you may be shocked to see what the sugar, sweeteners and chemicals are doing to you. Good luck if you try it!

I think like most things, to each his/her own. I have lost weight after I switched from regular to soda to diet sodas. I am also blessed to have great blood pressure and I not diabetic or prediabetic. I am not addicted as I do not have to have a diet soda all the time, but when I want one, I drink one.

Totally agree. I also gave up diet coke (actually gave up anything with artificial sweeteners in it) while pregnant two years ago and stuck with it. Now on the rare occasion that I might take a sip of a diet drink...yuck, doesn't taste good AT ALL!

I will drink anything that does not contain sugar, and that includes diet sodas. I have given up the artificial sweeteners before and have noticed no difference in my weight, mood, or energy. I do try to avoid the dark soda that contain a lot of phosphorous as it is not good fot your bones.I have had lengthy discussions about the "dangers" of artificial sweetener with several endocrinologists. The general opinion is moderation in everything. So it goes....

I quit drinking soda a few years ago because I gave up artificial sweeteners. I try to stay away from any artificial ingredients. What I missed was the carbonation--every now and then I wanted bubbles! So when I need my bubble fix, I dring a La Croix flavored sparkling water. No sweeteners, no artificial flavors. Just sparkling water with a bit of flavor. And they come in so many different flavors: the best (I think) are Peach-Pear, Mango, and Passionfruit. Otherwise I drink plain water or iced tea. I have never missed soda.

Do all diet sodas have the same issue? I switched from diet coke to diet ginger ale.

I bought a soda stream and never looked back. When I want something carbonated I make a bottle of carbonated water and add just a little lemon flavoring to it. So much less expensive than buying bottles and SO much better for the environment!

Diet anything is about the worst thing that you can consume. I just buy seltzer water and add a little fruit puree (you make yourself even store bought puree or juices have additives in it)to it and BOOM healthier soda fix.

I love filtered water with lemon or cucumber over ice. :)

and for those who think that stevia is a good sub: think again. it's processed (how do you think it becomes a bleached white color?) and totally chemically addictive. try honey or maple syrup as sweeteners...or nothing! habits take a long time to form AND break. your taste buds rebel at changing (bad) patterns. diet coke/diet pepsi/diet sprite/carbonated beverage companies, etc. know this. btw...they DON'T help

in losing weight! that's a fact.

I have read many articles w/that same finding, Lisa! I have never drunk soda on a regular basis, really can't stand how it tastes now after eating mostly healthy all these years. Some personal trainers also say the additives in diet sodas make you crave more soda AND food in general, especially carbs w/o much nutritional value. Seems like a vicious circle to me. I generally don't have food cravings when I eat properly(ie a proper balance of fats, proteins n carbs), and can lose weight along w/that when I exercise. Motivation is key though...

I knew one of the doctors that participated in the aspartame study prior to its approval by the FDA to go on the market. His comment to me was it would never enter his house. I figured if he participated in the studies and this was his opinion then it would never enter my home either. I am an everything in moderation kind of person, but there are FDA approved drugs/chemicals that even in moderation should not be consumed. It kills me every time I see a mother/father give a diet drink to a child. In the world we live in now one has to do their due diligence by reading labels. If you don't know what something is, look it up.

My husband drinks coke zero and my son drinks regular coke...I don't drink pop ever - never was much of a pop drinker even as a child.

I wish they would give it up..i show them articles all the no avail!

For those who question Stevia, my understanding is that if it's natural, it's a much better option. I can't speak specifically to Truvia, but if it's white, it is not natural. Stevia is a green plant. Since most people don't want their drinks green, they buy the "white" versions, which are processed. Buy a stevia plant, grow your own, make your own liquid sweetener. It's quite easy to do with a few simple steps. I was a diet coke junkie, Coke Zero to be more specific. And initially I guess I did it to save on calories, but then I enjoyed the flavor. I don't buy soda anymore, but will have one on occasion when I'm out. I enjoy soda with pizza. All things in moderation. I don't think the occasional soda will hurt me, but I am fearful of the years I drank it in the past.

Thank goodness I finally figured out I'm allergic to aspartame, which is the big problem here, not just the brand name drink. It gives me - I know this sounds weird - hives on my hands and fingers and makes my mouth a bit numb. Turns out I really need to get off the other sweeteners too, like sucralose/Splenda or malitol as they're having an, ahem, unfortunate effect on my digestive tract. Neither of them have helped me keep off weight, and of course with taste I keep craving sweets. Guess I'm sticking to tea with honey in it if I want sweetness, and water.

I am addicted to coke zero... there I said it!!!! I am trying so hard to kick the habbit.

My daughter became alergic to artificial sugar. She reads every label and you would not believe the things that have artificial sweetners in them and are not labled as such! By the way she lost 35 pounds when she quit eating them and her husband lost 105 pounds also!!!!! must be something to not eating or drinking the poison...LOL!

I agree with Ronnie and Nic. I like to teach my patients "moderation vs elimination." I want to emphasize that the study on glucose intolerance was done on RATS!! THe American Diabetes Association, the National Cancer Institute, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put their blessing on artificial sweeteners when used in MODERATION. Please review the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics evidence based guidelines for these non-nutritive sweeteners and their impact on glucose control. Although human studies are limited, the human studies available indicate found no

difference in measures of glycemic response

when sucralose was added to
diets compared with control diets. One
trial (Grotz and colleagues, 2003) found
decreased Hb A1c levels and fasting
plasma glucose levels from baseline in
adults with diabetes after consuming
sucralose for 3 months. The sucralose

group also had a statistically significant

decrease in fasting plasma glucose from

baseline compared with the control

group. Also, in regards to evidence that non-nutritive sweeteners MAY benefit some folks for weight management, a new study from the journal of Obesity (Hot off the press yesterday) has revealed that “Drinking low- and no-calorie sweetened beverages, including diet sodas, are common among people who have maintained significant weight loss”. Over 400 people who had lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for at least a year answered a survey about their use of beverages. According to the article, Drinking Low-Calorie Sweetened Beverages Common Among Weight Loss Maintainers, “over 78% of participants who reported weekly consumption of low-calorie sweetened beverages believed that consumption was partially responsible for controlling their calorie intake.” Therefore, I think we need to be cautious of rat studies and keep in mind that moderation is the key and that each of us react differently to different substances. If a person notes a personal issue, yes, they should avoid it but I have MANY clients who are successfully losing weight and cite the use of these have helped them lose and maintain weight and once they lose weight, their glucose intolerance actually IMPROVES!! :)

I'm a recovering diet soda addict as well, and it's done wonders for my health. It's toxic. And yes, Crystal Light is no better - anything with artificial sweeteners is not good for you, so put down the ICE Sparkling Water, Vitamin Water Zero, etc., too.

I have to laugh at the ridiculousness of these statements. Diet Coke may very well prove to be bad for you, as well as every other drink on this planet. I completely agree with the comment about Coke getting a bad rap. It seems this is largely opinion being masqueraded as fact. Especially when tea and other items are being discussed as alternatives. What's next? NO caffeine is acceptable? This almost sounds like the argument between low fat, low carb, vegetarian, vegan, etc. there are going to be pluses and minuses to almost everything and each year there's a new finding on what's "healthy" or "unhealthy" as of the moment.

Snackgirl, Your take on Stevia please. Thanx

Actually the study I believe you are referring to did include some human studies as well. On top of that they didn't just find a correlative link between the the glucose intolerance and the artificial sweeteners. They actually found a causal link involving changes that happened in the gut microbiome that they were transfer from one mouse to another.

I don't drink sodas but if one is diabetic artificial sweeteners or stevia are the only choices. Artificial sweeteners are NOT likely universal triggers for diabetes as current research has born out.

"This suggests that any effects of artificial sweeteners are not universal." referring to glucose intolerance according to a study in Israel.…

There are hundreds of other triggers like environmental substances such as Agent Orange used in Vietnam, certain medications and many other triggers.

Mothers who have gestational diabetes have higher risk of developing diabetes later in life as will the child.

Genetic risk is another factor that may lead to diabetes.

It is not just food or being overweight that are risk factors.…

Some of us are genetically predisposed to becoming diabetic no matter the diet but are less likely to be if we act early in life to make healthy choices and develop good habits and making sure we are getting proper nutrition. Certain elements we have little control over like environment, aging, medical treatments (some medications and some surgeries), genetics and pregnancy.

I gave up diet drinks.

I had a bad habit since childhood. BAD habit.

Interestingly yesterday I dumped a packet of a drink blend that I got at a natural foods show into my unsweetened iced tea that I bring to work to drink in the afternoon. I completely forget about it. Two sips and I thought "Has this gone bad?" But I recognized the artificial taste. It was sweetened with Stevia. Stevia is from a natural source but actual stevia is quite bitter. The stevia you buy at a supermarket has been processed. But it is still touted as "natural".

PS - the cravings for diet drinks subside but can rear their ugly heads. I still cave sometimes and it tastes crappy.

I didn't used to drink a lot of diet coke (thankfully buying coke to drink was just too expensive for my household when I was a child). I started drinking more of it when i got to college, but thankfully after I started working and became more conscious of my own health, I stopped drinking them (plus seriously, cost so much!!!).

I ultimately realized that I didn't like "soda" of the sugary variety so much as really liking the bubbles! I started buying a lot of the big 2L bottles of seltzer water from safeway (seltzer has 0 sodium, don't confuse that with club soda or tonic water which both has sodium!!), but that started to become really annoying because when I run out I have to go out and buy bottles after bottles that weighs a ton when i bring it home, AND after drinking i'd end up having a ton of empty bottles (which cost me extra crv charges too!). came SODASTREAM. Like seriously, that thing is SO awesome, one of the best investments in the kitchen I ever made (the others are cuisinart food processor, cheapie automatic wine bottle opener, and slow cooker). I now just drink a lot of bubble water that i make myself without having to lug huge and heavy bottles from the supermarket, and no more empty bottles to deal with afterwards.

I still drink a diet soda once in a long while (like once every couple of months?) when i'm really craving it. But overall my sodastream totally satisfies me!!!

I Agree With Ronnie ALso With Amy.

I drink 1diet caffeine free coke about every 4 days and it sure hits the spot. I also drink water with various fruits I. Sometimes I just need a change from water something with bubbles and low no calories.. I don't go crazy with diet substitute products because they are more chemicals than anything else

Oh my gosh you have scared the bejesus out of me. I no longer want any type of soda in my life. I will of course give them up. and there goes my calorie free peach tea too. :(

Thanks for writing all this. My hubby has tried to tell me and now it has gotten through.

I love Diet Coke. I know it's bad and I should stop, but we eat out a lot and I feel like the waitstaff don't like people who just order water. I rarely drink alcohol, and I've tried the seltzers, but don't like the taste. So I order my Diet coke and always end up getting 2 refills! Then I can't sleep at night from the caffeine.

What about the people who already have Diabetes! They live on products that are sugar free filled with aspartame and other chemical additives to make food taste bearable. Are they intensifying their situation? This really burns me up. They are many children with diabetes and I'm sure this type of eating is making their condition worse.

I'm glad you brought this up Denise, my husband is diabetic and he doesn't like water so he drinks Arizona Diet Ginseng Tea and diet soda. I am very concerned about this and do not know what else to buy him to drink that has sweetness.

PLEASE READ Dear @ Denise Hawkins and Madeline - There is really no proof that artificial sweeteners cause diabetes. There are so many other triggers responsible for diabetes. Environmental elements have been found to be responsible for diabetes for instance. Agent Orange (an herbicide) used in Vietnam was found to be responsible for diabetes and other diseases. This is just one environmental cause.

Medications like cortisone (a steroid) have also been found to be a trigger.

Gestational diabetes in pregnant mothers can cause diabetes in the future of the mother and/or the child.

We are diabetic and currently use stevia and other low calorie sweeteners and they do NOT raise or affect our blood sugar. Certain studies on Agave though, have actually shown that it may be beneficial for diabetics.

I think more scientific studies need to be and are being done.

We have to remember that the most significant problem for diabetics are carbohydrates not low calorie sweeteners.

Carbohydrates, over time, can and do destroy the beta cells in the pancreas that help to produce insulin. The body can be flooded with insulin due to overeating, especially overeating carbs, and other factors until these beta cells die and then the pancreas stops producing insulin. Once beta cells are dead, that is it; they do not reproduce. Medicine has recently presented a beta cell pump that is implanted in the diabetic to introduce beta cells back into the body. This is a revolutionary treatment but not yet widely available to my knowledge.

Far worse than sodas sweetened with low calorie sweeteners are those sweetened with sugar. With the enormous amount of sugar in sodas and the fact that people usually have more than one per day may significantly increase the presence of diabetes.

By the way, obesity is more commonly caused by carbohydrates (sodas, chips, candy, rice, potatoes, etc.) than fat or any other foods.

Also, Obesity is NOT commonly the cause of diabetes. There are a lot of obese people who do not have diabetes. But, diabetics that lose weight may have better control over their blood sugar.…

I suggest that if anyone has more questions on diabetes that they go to the American Diabetes Association and subscribe to a diabetic newsletters.

Eating like a diabetic is the best diet I know and the healthiest. The ADA site has a lot of great healthy recipes for everyone.

Thank you, I will e-mail this to my husband, he has trouble with carbs.

Ended up in the hospital with severe migraines and vertigo, gave up diet soda and all fake sweeteners. Back to normal. Sometimes I really crave soda and I'll have a real Coca Cola, but it's an occassional treat fo me. I finally read the Coke Zero label and couldn't pronounce to many of the ingredients. Not knocking coke products at all, they are my favorite, but you really have to limit and read labels.

Ok, I need to try again. I used to drink daily but now only on weekends. But I need to stop totally. It is hard because I love COKE! Maybe I will go to one day a weekend to none. Either way I need to stop.

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