Step away from the Diet Coke.
When it comes time to lose weight, many women swap from regular sodas to diet varieties hoping to save some calories. Little do they know, the swap does them no good.
During my PCOS Diva Jumpstart Program, I ask participants to eliminate soda, especially diet soda. Many Divas are very protective of their Diet Coke, so this is sometimes a particular challenge. I encourage them to begin transitioning to sparkling mineral water with a splash of POM (pomegranate juice) in lieu of their diet soda, or even kombucha, a fermented drink that is naturally bubbly. Why is diet so bad for women with PCOS?
- Diet soda amps up sugar cravings and confuses your body. The artificial sweetener in diet soda is so sweet that it dulls your senses over time, so you will eventually not recognize when you are consuming sugary things. The result is that you consume sweeter and sweeter things to get the same sensation; natural sugars in fruit will no longer sate your sugar craving. In addition, the Harvard School of Public Health explains, “The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more. By providing a sweet taste without any calories, however, artificial sweeteners cause us to crave more sweet foods and drinks, which can add up to excess calories.”
- Diet soda will not help you lose weight. Many women believe that saving calories with a diet soda will help them lose weight. NOT TRUE! Overweight and obese adults who drink diet soda consume more calories than heavier adults who drink sugary beverages, says research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management. The psychology is typically that since you have saved calories by choosing a diet soda, you can make allowances elsewhere. Maybe that is why you see people with super-sized burger and fries and a Diet Coke. A university of Texas study (among many others), found that diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference compared to non-diet soda drinkers. People who drink two or more a day had a 500% greater increase! In fact, in another study, those who drank artificially sweetened drinks had a 47% higher increase in BMI than those who did not.
- Diet soda increases your risk of diabetes stroke and heart disease. A University of Minnesota study found a 36% increase in risk of metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, cholesterol, waist circumference) in diet soda drinkers, which increases the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
- Diet soda increases your risk for depression. A recent study presented at a the American Academy of Neurology meeting found that over the course of 10 years, people who drank more than four cans of soda a day were 30% more likely to develop depression than those who do not consume sugary drinks. The trend proved true for both regular and diet drinks, but researchers note that the risk is greater for those who primarily drank diet sodas.
- Diet soda increases your risk for osteoporosis. Tufts University researchers found that female cola drinkers had nearly 4% lower bone mineral density in their hips than women who didn’t drink soda. The research even controlled for the participants’ calcium and vitamin D intake. Additionally, a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that cola intake (all kinds, not just diet) was associated with low bone-mineral density in women.
- Diet soda has no nutritional value. Soda is made entirely of chemicals. There is zero nutritional value in any diet soda.
The take-away here is that consuming diet soda is not a good choice for women with PCOS. We are already at high risk for many of the negative side-effects of consuming these beverages; to compound the risk by drinking diet soda is counterproductive. I understand the deep psychological attachment and know that it can be a hard habit to break. Start small. First, decide that you want to stop. Then, slowly begin upgrading to healthier beverages the are PCOS diet friendly until diet sodas are crowded out and your taste buds return to normal.
You have the power to make good choices, live well, and THRIVE with PCOS.
“Artificial Sweeteners.” The Nutrition Source. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, n.d. Web. Bleich, Sarah N., Julia A. Wolfson, Seanna Vine, and Y. Claire Wang.
“Diet-Beverage Consumption and Caloric Intake Among US Adults, Overall and by Body Weight.” American Public Health Association –. American Journal of Public Health, Mar. 2014. Web.
“Two Diet Drinks a Day Can Increase Heart Failure Risk.” Fit Wise Nation. Fit Wise Nation, 5 Nov. 2015. Web.
Nettleton, Jennifer A., Pamela L. Lutsey, Youfa Wang, João A. Lima, Erin D. Michos, and David R. Jacobs. “Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).” Diabetes Care. American Diabetes Association, n.d. Web.
“10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda.” 10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda. StariGrad, 28 Oct. 2013. Web.