Diet Soda May Cause Weight Gain

Medically reviewed by Sarah Spann, Adv Dip (Nut Med), mATMS Sarah Spann Sarah SpannAdv Dip (Nut Med), mATMS facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Charushila Biswas MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Experience: 6 years
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If you frantically count calories to keep yourself in shape, now is a good time to stop. Why, you ask? Because fewer calories or zero calories does not mean “healthy.” Diet soda, with its zero-calorie label, has fooled many of us into drinking it, thinking that it wouldn’t lead to weight gain. But the truth is, there is a lot of scientific research that shows that diet soda can make you gain weight and cause obesity-related diseases. Give this post a read to find out how diet soda causes weight gain and how unhealthy it is. Swipe up!

What Does Diet Soda Contain?

To understand why diet soda is bad for your health and why it causes weight gain, you must know what it contains. Here is the list of ingredients:

  • Carbonated Water
  • Aspartame
  • Caramel Color
  • Phosphoric Acid
  • Natural Flavors

These ingredients may seem harmless, but they may make you gain weight over a period. Here are the ways diet soda causes weight gain.

8 Ways Diet Soda Makes You Overweight And Unhealthy

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Diet soda can make you gain weight in many ways. Let’s start with the ingredients and then talk about other factors that make diet soda a potential weight gain drink.

  1. Diet Soda Contains Carbonated Water – According to Monica Reinagel MS, LD/N, carbonated water leaches out calcium from the bones (1). And that may cause calcium deficiency and osteoporosis. Calcium deficiency is closely linked to obesity, inflammation in the body, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes type 2 (2).
  1. Aspartame May Not Be What It Seems To Be – Creepy, right? But that’s the truth! Aspartame contains two amino acids (a unit of protein), aspartate and phenylalanine, and has 4 calories per gram. It is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose, but since it is consumed in limited quantities, the calorie consumption is low (3). However, on the label of the diet soda, the amount of aspartame used is not mentioned – and that’s a cause for concern. Don’t you think so?
  1. The True Colors Of Caramel Color – According to a mega soda company, caramel color “is made by a process involving the heating of corn or cane sugar and other carbohydrates to achieve the desired color.” Corn, cane, sugar, and other sources of carbs (bad carbs) are foods you want to avoid if you are trying to lose weight.The problem is not about consuming one diet soda once a week or thrice a month. We indulge in diet soda, thinking merely from the calories perspective. Moreover, caramel color might be a potent carcinogen and requires stricter regulations (4).
  1. Phosphoric Acid Adds More Than Just Taste – According to Coca-Cola, “Phosphoric acid is used in certain soft drinks, including Coca-Cola, to add tartness to the beverage. Phosphoric acid contains phosphorus, one of the basic elements of nature and an essential nutrient. Phosphorus is a major component of bones.”A study confirmed that phosphoric acid causes tooth enamel erosion (5). Many scientific studies suggest that phosphoric acid may also trigger kidney stone formation (6), (7).
  1. Natural Flavors May Not Be So Natural – Natural flavors are derived from natural foods. But, according to Alexandra Caspero, R.D, “Hundreds of chemicals can be used to mimic the taste of natural flavors—so natural flavors can be anything.” So, you cannot really tell what’s going into your cola in the name of Natural Flavors.
  1. Increases Insulin Production – Insulin is produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. It carries glucose molecules from the bloodstream to the cells, where the glucose is converted to energy in the form of ATP.When you drink cola, the artificial sweetener prompts the brain to signal the beta cells to secrete insulin (8). But there are not enough glucose molecules to shuttle into the cells. This confuses the brain, and over a period, your body starts developing metabolic syndrome.
  1. Makes You Crave  It – When you consume diet soda regularly, which contains artificial coloring and flavoring agents, you will tend to crave it more. Gradually, it’ll become a part of your lifestyle, and that’s when the health problems will start creeping in.
  1. Fools You Into Consuming More – So, you had two diet sodas – technically 0 calories. Good news! Now you can consume the doughnut you were craving for or a bag of potato chips that’s been feeling lonely since last week! Well, sorry to break it to you – this is where diet soda fools you. It tricks you into consuming more calories by making you think only from the calorie angle. You also have to think from a nutrition point of view – and diet soda has 0 nutrition value.It is clear that soda or diet soda is in no way healthy for you in unlimited amounts. Drinking diet soda regularly may pose a serious danger to your health. And if you really like drinking soda and cannot cut it out from your daily routine in a jiffy, you can try the following alternatives.

Diet Soda Alternatives

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  • Mix pomegranate or berry juice with sparkling water.
  • Sip on iced tea or cold brew coffee.
  • Green tea and matcha green tea with almond milk can also be great substitutes for coffee.
  • Drink water with cucumber, ginger, and lime slices.
  • Add mint and other herbs to your tea or water.
  • Add four ice cubes to a glass of water.
  • Refrigerate freshly-pressed juice and add a pinch of Himalayan pink salt before drinking.

It is not tough to find diet soda alternatives that have a good amount of micronutrients. These alternatives taste good and do not pose harm to your body.

To conclude, any kind of addiction is not good for your health. Consuming diet soda on a regular basis may lead to various diseases over a period. So, either cut down your diet soda consumption and look at other alternatives or avoid it altogether. You can also go on a detox diet to help you get back on track. Go ahead and change your life today! Cheers!


1. “Is Carbonated Water Bad for You?” Scientific American
2. “Calcium and Vitamin D in Obesity and Related Chronic Disease.” US National Library of Medicine
3. “Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings” US National Library of Medicine
4. “Caramel Color in Soft Drinks and Exposure to 4-Methylimidazole: A Quantitative Risk Assessment” US National Library of Medicine
5. “Pop-Cola Acids and Tooth Erosion: An In Vitro, In Vivo, Electron-Microscopic, and Clinical Report” US National Library of Medicine
6. “Carbonated Beverages and Chronic Kidney Disease” US National Library of Medicine
7. “Soda and Other Beverages and the Risk of Kidney Stones” US National Library of Medicine
8. “Ingestion of Diet Soda Before a Glucose Load Augments Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Secretion” US National Library of Medicine

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Sarah Spann
Sarah SpannAdv Dip (Nut Med), mATMS
Sarah Spann has 4 years of experience as a clinical nutritionist. She specializes in gut health and is based in Brisbane, Australia. She is dedicated to changing the paradigm of gut health and works with clients all over the world to help them get back the freedom, energy and confidence that their gut issues have taken away.

Read full bio of Sarah Spann
Charushila Biswas
Charushila BiswasHealth & Wellness Writer
Charushila is an ISSA certified Fitness Nutritionist and a Physical Exercise Therapist. Over a span of 6 years, she has authored more than 400 articles on diet, lifestyle, exercises, healthy food, and fitness equipment. She strives to inform, educate, and motivate her readers via authentic, straightforward, and fact-checked information.

Read full bio of Charushila Biswas
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