How Diet Soda Could Make Us Gain Weight

How Diet Soda Could Make Us Gain Weight
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People consuming low-calorie sweeteners may overcompensate by eating more than they otherwise would.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Erythritol, the too-good-to-be-true nontoxic, low-calorie, tooth-friendly sweetener that may even act as an antioxidant. What’s the catch?

Well, there are three ways that all noncaloric sweeteners could theoretically be harmful, independent of their specific chemistry. Over the years, “Several large scale prospective cohort studies found positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain…”—meaning the people that drank the most diet soda, for example, gained the most weight.

The most common explanation for this counterintuitive finding is what’s called reverse causation. People aren’t fat because they drink diet soda; they drink diet soda because they’re fat! But there are at least three other, less benign, alternative explanations.

The first is called overcompensation for expected caloric reduction. If you covertly switch someone’s soda for diet soda, without them knowing it, their caloric intake drops. Obviously; they’re not drinking all that sugar anymore. But, what if you tell them what you did? People who knowingly are consuming artificial sweeteners may actually end up eating more calories.

Why? because they’re like, hey, I’m drinking diet soda—so I can have two pieces of cake. In this study, they gave people an artificially-sweetened cereal for breakfast, but only told half of the group what they did. As you can see, when it came to lunchtime, the aspartame-informed group ate significantly more than the aspartame-naïve group that didn’t know any different. 

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Images thanks to Vik Approved via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Erythritol, the too-good-to-be-true nontoxic, low-calorie, tooth-friendly sweetener that may even act as an antioxidant. What’s the catch?

Well, there are three ways that all noncaloric sweeteners could theoretically be harmful, independent of their specific chemistry. Over the years, “Several large scale prospective cohort studies found positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain…”—meaning the people that drank the most diet soda, for example, gained the most weight.

The most common explanation for this counterintuitive finding is what’s called reverse causation. People aren’t fat because they drink diet soda; they drink diet soda because they’re fat! But there are at least three other, less benign, alternative explanations.

The first is called overcompensation for expected caloric reduction. If you covertly switch someone’s soda for diet soda, without them knowing it, their caloric intake drops. Obviously; they’re not drinking all that sugar anymore. But, what if you tell them what you did? People who knowingly are consuming artificial sweeteners may actually end up eating more calories.

Why? because they’re like, hey, I’m drinking diet soda—so I can have two pieces of cake. In this study, they gave people an artificially-sweetened cereal for breakfast, but only told half of the group what they did. As you can see, when it came to lunchtime, the aspartame-informed group ate significantly more than the aspartame-naïve group that didn’t know any different. 

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Images thanks to Vik Approved via flickr

Nota del Doctor

In both Aspartame-Induced Fibromyalgia and Diet Soda and Preterm Birth, some concerns were raised about the artificial sweetener aspartame. But, erythritol was given a pass in Erythritol May Be a Sweet Antioxidant. I’ll go through the other two potential harms arising even from harmless, low-calorie sweeteners in Neurobiology of Artificial Sweeteners and Unsweetening the Diet.

For more context, check out my associated blog post: How to Gain Weight on Diet Soda.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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