Are Diet Sodas Making You Gain Weight?

Are Diet Sodas Making You Sick

After delivering our 8th child, I was having trouble losing the baby weight so I joined Weight Watchers.

If you are not familiar with Weight Watchers, each food is given a point value and you have an allotted amount of points per day.

The benefit was that I could figure out the point value for my normal meals  and continue eating what my family ate.

The pitfall? A food’s points are based on the fat, fiber and calorie content of the food.  And, as you can probably guess, the higher the fat content, the higher the point value! No delineation was made between good fats and bad fats – they were all bad! This was of course, before I knew about GAPS, real food and traditional methods of food preparation. Unfortunately, I had bought into the low fat/no fat propaganda hook line and sinker! But, at that point, all I cared about was losing the extra pounds and not looking like the mother of 8 or 9 or 10!

With my success in losing the extra weight, I continued to use their method of weight loss after each additional child. I consistently lost 1 – 2 lbs per week. But, after one particularly difficult plateau period when I lost nothing, my instructor recommended I leave off diet sodas for 1 week to see if any further weight loss would occur.

I stuck religiously to the program and after making this one change – no diet sodas for a week – my weight again began dropping. Amazingly, the  first week I stopped drinking diet sodas, I dropped 7 pounds! Encouraged by my results, she began recommending that others also leave off diet sodas. The results were phenomenal – 7, 10 and even 15 pounds lost after 1 week of simply leaving off the diet drinks!


Many diet drinks contain aspartame, also know as NutraSweet or Equal. Aspartame was introduced in the early 1980 and is 180 times as sweet as sugar without the accompanying calories.

There are 3 ways in which aspartame may cause weight gain:

1. Urge to Eat

When a sweet taste stimulates the tongue, the brain programs the liver to prepare for acceptance of new energy (or sugar) from the incoming food and calories. The  liver stops making sugar from proteins and starch reserves in the body and begins to store the metabolic fuels that are circulating the body. The liver is waiting for the nutrients available in the incoming food as signaled by the sweet taste on the tongue. The more a sweet taste without accompanying calories stimulates the taste buds, the more there is an urge to eat. This can equal weight gain!

2. Water Retention

Diet sodas may also cause water retention. A can of diet soda can contain as much as 40 mg of sodium. Now this may not seem like much but if you drink several a day, the amount of sodium in your diet can quickly get out of control – especially when accompanied by the normal American diet of processed foods which also contain high amounts of sodium. Too much sodium can cause water retention and equal weight gain!

3. Unknown

According to the Mayo Clinic:

 If you’re trying to lose weight or prevent weight gain, products sweetened with artificial sweeteners rather than with higher calorie table sugar may be an attractive option. On the other hand, some research has suggested that consuming artificial sweeteners may be associated with increased weight, but the cause is not yet known.


Aspartame Can Cause Other Health Problems

Besides the possibility of weight gain, there are other potential health hazards associated with aspartame.

These include:

1. Psychological symptoms – depression, aggression, anxiety, irritability, phobias, severe depression, personality changes, memory loss and mood disturbances.

2. Neurological symptoms – dizziness, numbness in the limbs, severe tremors, facial pain, seizures, headaches or migraines, confusion, fatigue, slurred speech and hyperactivity.

3. Physical symptoms – nausea, vertigo, skin lesions, ringing in the ears, loss of taste, muscular and joint pain, irregular menstrual cycle, heart attack symptoms and menstrual cramps, diarrhea, abdominal pain, painful swallowing, asthma-like symptoms, thinning hair, hair loss, burning during urination, excessive thirst, fluid retention, high blood pressure, allergic reactions in the mouth, weight gain or loss, leg swelling and bloating.

4. Carcinogenic – The ester bond in aspartame breaks down to formaldehyde and methanol, which are each toxic. It comes as no surprise that this popular artificial sweetener has also been associated with cancer.

5. Stroke – Two new studies by University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researchers link diet soda and salt to increased risk of vascular events, including stroke.

Aspartame Breaks Down Into Formaldehyde in Your Body!

In the intestinal tract, aspartame breaks down into two neurotransmitter amino acids as well as methyl alcohol/formaldehyde. When you ingest aspartame, the methyl alcohol is metabolized into formaldehyde! Formaldehyde according to Wikipedia:

Commercial solutions of formaldehyde in water, commonly called formalin, were formerly used as disinfectants and for preservation of biological specimens. In view of its widespread use, toxicity and volatility, exposure to formaldehyde is a significant consideration for human health.

Formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Supposedly, the liver makes the methyl alcohol harmless.

I don’t know about you, but I am not willing to put into my body a “food”  product with a known toxic byproduct!

Save yourself and say “No” to aspartame!

Sources: Huffington Post, LiveStrong 1 and 2, Mayo Clinic, National Cancer InstituteUniversity of Miami, Wikipedia, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.

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  1. KimH says

    I have never been a diet soda drinker.. To me, there is just something wrong with it.. I also never bought into the low fat diet.. I was raised on natural healthy foods and when that is what I eat, my weight balances itself.. I’m a bit too fluffy right now but I have no doubt that is normalizing itself now that stressors have been removed and I have more time to think & make real whole foods.
    I will say that Weight Watchers has changed a lot over the years. There is a new Points program in place and it does take all components of a food in consideration now. I remember back to the first points system, I would eat all my points in donuts..then be hungry for the rest of the day. True story. haha. I think they’ve got it right this time.. now if I could just stay on plan, the weight would fall off me. :)

    • says

      You are lucky, Kim – unfortunately, I did by in to the low fat stuff! Weight Watchers has changed a lot but I too would budget my points to allow for cheese puffs and doughnuts! I agree that with proper diet, real whole foods, there is no need to diet – your weight will take care of itself! Glad you have gotten out of your stressors!

  2. says

    Aspartame also is known to DECREASE your metabolism so its harder for your body to lose weight as a result. You have to detox that poison out of your body. It affects your thyroid, which regulates your metabolism.

    If you have tried hard to lose weight, and it isn’t working, aspartame, MSG, Splenda, etc are most likely the culprits.

  3. says

    Great info! It’s amazing the things we eat and drink without actually knowing what’s in them, or what they might do to our bodies. Thanks for the info.

    • says

      Way to go, Jen, say no to the diet sodas and try water! Splenda and Stevia are both highly processed products that trick your body into thinking something sweet is on its way. This affects the liver use of nutrients and causes the urge to eat which can cause weight gain! Not to mention their harmful effects on the body as well.

  4. says

    I’m a WW member too and this is one I struggle with. My dietician told me the downfalls of my caffeine-free diet coke addiction and tried to get me to switch. At the same time, I really like my diet pop (and the points value on it) and can’t seem to break the habit. To WW’s credit, they have changed the plan recently and it’s quite a bit different than when I was originally a member about 8 years ago. I find the way I eat this time to be much healthier.

  5. says

    Ahhh! I have been trying to give up diet soda with no luck. I just cannot seem to give it up. Thanks for this post, I think I’m going to give it another try.

  6. says

    First let me say, I will never drink diet pop again. But sadly, when I quit my diet coke habit – and now drink mainly water or unsweetened tea, I never lost an ounce. I also quit eating all diet foods – anything that is labeled diet or has aspertame or any artificial sweeteners. I wish that I had lost weight, but the reality is I haven’t. However I know that I am 100% better off not putting that poison in my body.

  7. says

    Hi Dina-Marie-

    Thank you for writing such an detailed article. While I never drank diet soda, {I used to be a regular pop girl back in my pre-autism diet days}- I have always been suspicious of “getting something for free” with anything with zero calories.

    I’m featuring this at Creative Juice tonight, and sharing at both my facebook and pinterest accounts.

    My best,

  8. Caroline Smith says

    I have read that the aspartame in diet coke, to which I have become addicted, can cause weight gain – not only by making you crave sweets etc- (I can resist these foods now) , but because of something in it that may affect the liver and cause metabolic problems. I read that model thin celebrity, Victoria Bekham, drinks huge amounts of diet soda. But everyone is different. I had an operation which now, years later as doctors warned, causes terrible pain when I try to work out. I can’t even walk too much – I mean enough to make a difference. Until I began to drink diet coke many times a day, I was very very slender, 5 ft 6 inches and size 4. I suffered on-going traumatic stress when my best friend was killed in an accident and then my mom got sick and I lost her last December. When I was active as I was then (and drinking less diet coke) I gained almost no weight. But this year, I began to drink perhaps 5-7 cans of diet coke a day, caf and decaf ( after 4pm). I was already gaining weight in early summer. But to my horror, I can no longer wear many of those beautiful outfits. No one would consider me fat. But many people do consider me over-weight. My once beautiful legs are now thick and flabby from the lower knee up. My once flat stomach and slender waist are gone.
    Yes, aspartame (and depression) made me crave and eat chocolate coated caramels every day for quite awhile. And I gave up whole bran wheat bread for buttery crescents as sandwich bread. I have up sweets and fattening bread easily. I don’t eat very much. But after 2 and a half weeks, I see no improvement. I went to my GP who took CBC, a thyroid test , a cortisol test. She said everything was normal but that a cortisol test in the afternoon was not that accurate.
    I really. Need a diet doctor to take more sophisticated tests and help me in other ways. I don’t like most vegetables except for green beans, corn, and lettuce. I eat the later without dressing rather like a rabbit. I hate yogurt and most fish. And I can’t cook much.
    If it is true that the caramel flavoring in diet soda. Or some other chemical is putting weight on me and not letting me lose it, I would love to hear from other diet cola addicts (5-8) cans a day who used to be thin all their lives and think that their diet cola ruined their figures. Co am desperate and deeply depressed over the change in my appearance.
    Please get in touch.
    Thanks, Caroline

    • says

      Hi Caroline, I am sorry to hear of your health problems! Have you tried leaving off the diet soda and eat a healthy diet especially trying to find vegetables that you like and cultivate a taste for those you don’t? A book you might find helpful (I know it helped me get extra weight off) is Trim Healthy Mama from my affiliate partner:
      The principles in the book are sound with real traditional foods. I hope this helps!

  9. Danielle says

    I personally have had a chance to test this diet soda theory out on myself. I had gestational diabetes when pregnant with my son who is now 8 yrs. I was told that after giving birth to him I was in the clear and that I no longer had gestational diabetes. I always drank a lot of diet soda and when I say a lot I mean a real lot. I would definitely drink more than 1-2 2 Liter Bottles Per Day But The Least I Would have would be 1 2liter of soda a day.
    Well within 6 months of his birth I am being told a different story from the doctor after having a series of blood tests done. Now they are saying that the gestational diabetes never went away and what’s worse is it has turned into type 2 diabetes that I apparently will have to live with for the rest of my life. So the next year’s are spent learning how to control this disease. I am told at this time that the only soda I can have now is diet which was fine as I had been drinking diet soda for many years already. So now I try like hell to lose weight and nothing is working to help me even lose a few pounds. I tried everything from the slim fast plan, to not eating at all , to doing the HCG diet with diet HCG hormone drops u put under your tongue and eat only 500 calories per day consisting mainly of different types of cabbage soups with hamburger or chicken and lots of strawberries and of course lots of water, to just watching my carbs, to doing weight watchers, to doing a diabetic diet. All really to no avail and honestly the only diet I lost a pound with was the HCG diet which u tend to get sick of very easily. Anyone listening to me babbling I do promise there is a point to all of this. So all these years of diets and nothing works I pretty much gave up on losing weight. My left leg foot and ankle was at least twice the size of the right side and sometimes even more of a difference which made it very difficult for me to be able to get around without being in terrible pain. I was beginning to lose feeling in my toes first my left three toes in the middle then the same thing on the right ones. My feet were cracked and no cream prescription or non prescription helped. My feet and legs burned so badly from neuropathy that it was unbearable I constantly felt as if I was walking on hot coals. A neighbor was telling my husband how her father got a bad reaction to the aspartame in diet soda and it was as if it was slowly poisoning his body and it took some time but within about 1-2 weeks he started getting better and all the symptoms he was having were gone he was himself again. A few weeks before this I had slightly cut down on the diet soda intake and I replaced it with crystal light energy and I didn’t know it yet that I was as actually losing weight but my swollen feethad shrunk a lot so I ccontinued and decided no diet soda period only straight water or crystal light and my phusband stopped diet soda too he switched to regular soda and I decided if I must have any I would only have regular soda and see what happens. Well our results were amazing within 2 months maybe 3 i was no longer retaining any fluid and i stepped on the scale almost afraid to look and much to my amazement i lost 50 pounds so right there was proof that diet soda can make you retain fluid and gain weight amongst other symptoms that we were having. He was feeling better all around when he was feeling very sick all the time and was also told by his doctor that he was pre diabetic high blood pressure and high cholesterol and he also gained a lot of weight in his stomach area while drinking diet soda and these symptoms were all reversed once he got rid of the diet soda and started drinking regular soda instead. Now 6 months later my feet look great, I am not retaining any fluid whatsoever anywhere in my body, I am still losing weight every day, my blood sugar levels are down at least 200 points every single time I test, I used to run from 250 all the way up to 500 at a time and now lately I have seen between 140 and 240 which is a huge difference in only 6 months i stopped the insulin cause it made me swell up even more and i also stopped the metformin pills made me I’ll with problems going to the bathroom so just cutting out the diet soda and losing 50 pounds made a huge difference in both my life and my husband too. The recent blood sugar levels were also when i had some regular soda so with regular soda my blood sugar levels went down 200 plus points when compared to diet soda and insulin and pills. So any

  10. Skye says

    I’ve read it over and over, yet there are people on weight watchers or nutrisystem that are told they can have as many diet sodas as they want and they lost weight. So I don’t see how it wouldn’t be okay on any other low calorie diet. I don’t get cravings when I drink diet sodas; however, if I don’t have a diet soda I feel the urge to eat something else sweet, like a cookie or cupcake, etc. For me, personally, having a diet soda now and then HELPS me because I don’t have the urge to down a 300 calorie snack cake or bar of chocolate. I start the HCG diet tomorrow and it demands you don’t drink the diet sodas or any drink with the above in it. So I’ll do it for this 3 week program. Suffice to say, if I abide by the guidelines of this hcg diet and still don’t lose weight, I can safely say diet soda isn’t the reason I can’t get rid of this 15 pounds, especially since I only have like 3 diet sodas in an entire week.

  11. linda says

    I think it is like a lot of other things. If you tend to retain fluid diet sodas, sodium, etc., will make it worse. I do so it can be bad.


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