Weight loss Killers

Is your scale stuck? You are exercising on a regular basis and have eliminated junk from your diet, but the scale does not move. What’s wrong?

Diet Soda. This is one of the most common question I get, “How can my diet soda hurt? It has no calories.” Good question.

There really are not a lot of great studies on this topic; however, here is what is generally available.

The Rats: Purdue researchers Susan Swithers, PhD, and Terry Davidson, PhD, published a study that examined whether artificial sweeteners altered the body’s ability to regulate calorie intake. They did a series of three studies involving sugar vs artificial sweeteners.

  • The first study involved cola-like liquid, one sweetened with sugar, the other with saccharin. The key is that we normally determine calories from sweetness and the saccharin breaks this calorie-sweet relationship. When the rats were exposed to high-calorie chocolate pudding they ate more pudding.
  • The next study fed rates high-calorie chocolate pudding or chocolate milk with their food. The chocolate milk group gained more weight. This suggests that the body is less able to recognize energy in liquid form.
  • The last study fed rats yogurt sweetened with either sugar or saccharine in addition to chow. The no-calorie sweetener took in more calories overall and gained more weight.

Observations:

  • The San Antonio Heart Study followed 5,000 adults for about eight years. Both diet soda and sugar-sweetened soda drinkers gained weight. The diet drinkers gained more weight and the more diet soda they drank, the more weight they gained.
  • The Framingham study followed 9,000 people for four years. People that drank soda (sugar or diet) were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome – a cluster of symptoms linked to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
  • A 2015 study in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that diet soda drinkers gained almost triple the abdominal fat over nine years as those who didn’t drink diet soday.

Despite these studies, diet soda drinkers can lose weight. Studies show that people who drink diet sodas as part of a calorie-restricted diet will lose weight. The American Diabetes Association and American Dietetic Association do support the use of no-calorie sweeteners to restrict calories.

The Yale Prevention Research Center says the research as a whole suggests sugar substitutes have little impact on weight loss.  But, there is concern that artificial sweeteners can condition people to want to eat more sweet foods.

Maybe not good for pregnancy:

In a May 2016 study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, researchers followed over 3,000 pregnant women and found that mothers who drank diet beverages were two times more likely to have babies who were overweight or obese at one year.

While nothing is absolutely conclusive, I personally feel that the evidence is supportive of the fact that artificial sweeteners are not good for your diet. One plausible theory is that the sweeteners (200 – 600 times the sweetness of sugar) programs the brain to prepare for an influx of calories. When they don’t arrive, the body still craves them, and this may make people eat more calories overall.

Another possibility could involve our gut bacteria, a area of research we are only beginning to understand. A recent study in mice showed that sweeteners changed the gut bacteria that made them vulnerable to insulin resistance which can lead to weight gain.

We have also learned that artificial sweeteners lower our levels of leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone, that inhibits hunger.

My recommendation, drink lots of water!