Diet Soda: Gain Killer or Calorie Saver? Pt 2

August 21, 2015 by in category Blog tagged as , , , , , with 0 and 0
Home > Articles > Blog > Diet Soda: Gain Killer or Calorie Saver? Pt 2

In my first article, I mentioned how there truly is a strong stigma against diet sodas. I ventured to bust the strong preconceived notion that diet soda is fattening. Surely a drink that has 0 calories is not fattening, and a drink that has 77g of sugar can easily contribute to increase in fat if caloric consumption is not kept in check. However, this only busts half of the strong stigma against diet soda. The other strong stigma against diet soda is that it negatively affects long term health. In this article, I will be looking at the artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas to see if diet soda negatively impacts long term health.
I will be covering the three major types of artificial sweeteners found on the market today. The three major types are:
1. Aspartame (commonly called Equal and in a blue packet)
2. Saccharin (commonly called Sweet N Low and in a pink packet)
3. Sucralose (commonly called Splenda and in a yellow packet)
As we saw in the first article, many people have analyzed studies falsely and created a stigma that aren’t fair. In short, there are no studies to support artificial sweeteners with cancer. Moreover, the FDA has completely approved consumption of artificial sweeteners and set appropriate intake levels as seen below:
• Aspartame: 18-19 cans of diet cola
• Saccharin: 9-12 packets of sweetener
• Sucralose: 6 cans of diet soda [1]
This is the limit to not have minor complications for the average person. It is very, very unlikely that anyone will ever consume that much artificial sweetener in a day. Even if you did, the complications might be minor such as a headache. If I had a serving of diet soda at all three of my meals, I still wouldn’t come close to breaking the recommended limit. In short the occasional soda, even several a day, won’t pose any issues to long term health.. I will go into more detail, however, to ensure that any misconception is put out.


Of all of the artificial sweeteners, aspartame, or Equal, is the one that is most concerning. The reason for this is that certain people who are allergic develop common allergic reactions such as swelling. Moreover, aspartame does cause some people to get headaches. However people are allergic to peanuts, but should we then have a stigma against peanut butter? As far as the effects of headaches, this is not to be expected for the majority of the population. If you do find yourself getting headaches when consuming aspartame, find a diet soda with a different artificial sweetener. There are many sodas out there that do not contain aspartame.


A study in 1977 made a causal connection between saccharin, or Sweet N Low, and cancer when tested on lab rats. This study is one of the main reasons why artificial sweeteners have developed such a bad rep. However you have to look beyond the surface of a study. The study gave rats a ginormous dosage of Sweet N Low. The amounts would be equivalent to about 800 to 1000 cans of diet soda for the average adult. [1] Obviously, the dosage is so absurd that it’s not even worth noting as conclusive evidence. There have been many studies since then which all have shown no causal relationship between, not just saccharin, but all artificial sweeteners and cancer.


Sucralose, or Splenda, is one of the newer forms of artificial sweetener out there. Sucralose is created by artificially changing the structure of a sugar molecule. [1] From my own personal experience, sucralose is the best tasting artificial sweetener. It strongly resembles the taste of normal sugar, and it works great for baking. The backlash against sucralose comes in because in contains small amounts chlorine. However, half of table salt also contains chlorine. The reason sucralose, like table salt, does not affect your body is because the chlorine is ingested by your body, but rather it passes through. Again, there is nothing but evidence in support of finding no negative affect of sucralose.


The stigma against diet soda both as fattening and detrimental to long term health is not only unsupported by science, there is evidence to support that those claims are false. Like a bad game of telephone, some studies have been misinterpreted to spread false rumors against diet soda, overshadowing the numerous studies in favor of diet soda. In short, diet soda has zero calories and can bring the enjoyment of drinking soda without the wasting of precious calories. The issue is caloric consumption, not artificial sweeteners and diet sodas. The issue is people consuming way too many calories through sugary drinks or justifying high caloric foods by drinking diet soda.

So relax and have a diet soda, it won’t kill your gains.

Diet Soda



Resources as listed in referenced article:

Garriga MM, Berkebile C, Metcalfe DD. A combined single-blind, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to determine the reproducibility of hypersensitivity reactions to aspartame. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1991 Apr;87(4):821-7

Geha R, Buckley CE, Greenberger P, Patterson R, Polmar S, Saxon A, Rohr A, Yang W, Drouin M. Aspartame is no more likely than placebo to cause urticaria/angioedema: results of a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1993 Oct;92(4):513-20.

Eades, Mary Dan. Sweeter than Sugar? Apr 1, 2007

Kovacs B, Shiel W. Artificial Sweeteners.

Aragon A. Artificial sweetener use: current controversies. Alan Aragon’s Research Review. April 1, 2009

Food & Nutrition Australia. Review of Non-nutritive Sweeteners. Food & Nutrition Australia. June, 2008

Magnuson B. Straight Facts on Aspartame & Health. Article prepared by Magnuson for The Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness

Mattes RD, Popkin BM. Nonnutritive sweetener consumption in humans: effects on appetite and food intake and their putative mechanisms. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:1-14

Aragon A. Artificial sweetener use: current controversies. Alan Aragon Research Review. April 2009

Lutsey P, Steffen L, Stevens J. Dietary Intake and the Development of the Metabolic Syndrome: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communitites Study. Circulation 2008;117:754-761

Vartanian L, Schwartz M, Brownell K. Effects of Soft Drink Consumption on Nutrition and Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Am J Public Health. 2007;97:667-675

Nettleton J, Lutsey P, Wang Y, Lima J, Michos E, Jacobs D. Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Mult-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Diabetes Care. 32:688-694, 2009

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