8 Reasons Why Diet Drinks Make You Fat

By on April 14, 2016
Dean Coulson - Why diet drinks make you fat

There is no way of getting around it. If you are drinking fizzy drinks especially diet drinks then your there is a good chance that your health will be compromised.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you knew that anyway right? 🙂

I want to make it clear that when I say diet drinks I mean any drink that has been labelled “diet” by the manufacturer with the intention of making you believe that because it says diet, it is healthy.

First I just want to clarify something. The word DIET literally means what you eat, but is more traditionally known for calorie restriction these days, which tends to end up with whoever partakes in a diet hungry and eventually miserable because of it.

The word diet has been used time and time again to convince people that buying a branded “diet” drink will be better for them, simply because the focus is on calories NOT health. It seems scale weight is more important these days than health, which is insane to think a number on a scale can potentially affect your whole day.

The simple fact remains. It is very important for you as a consumer to be switched on to the fact and be aware of the ingredients in diet or health drinks and how it actually affects you and your health. It is your responsibility to check and read labels and not blindly accept everything you are told.

Remember…  Diet is not the same as health. They are not mutually exclusive.

Whether diet drinks claim or insinuate that drinking them will help you lose weight or increase sports performance, it is worth further investigation.

With that in mind lets explore why diet drinks may not be the answer to being overweight if you genuinely care about your health…

…You know that your Health comes first right?

If you do then I suggest you seriously consider changing what you drink to something that can actually heal the body rather than potentially harm it. Whether you think they help you lose weight or give you energy or taste nice, diet drinks do nothing for your health, in fact they are more likely to be detrimental to it.

Remember, the only thing you truly have is your health, so it makes sense to look after it right?


Sugar and Sweeteners

There seems to be a wide spread belief that changing one sugar to another somehow makes it a diet drink


Because mainstream marketing has convinced us that health is irrelevant and as long as you are slim and watch your calories it doesn’t matter how you feel, but how you look that counts.

Calories are held is such high regard in our current society that it seems nothing else matters.

Well I am here to tell you it does.

A calorie is NOT a calorie because there is a whole wealth of other things at play.

Different calorie sources can have vastly different effects on hunger, hormones, energy expenditure and the brain regions that control food intake and what we drink.

I am sure everyone knows that 100 calories from a mars bar is just not the same as 100 calories from broccoli. They have a completely different reaction to the body.

Just like a Diet drink is not a health drink!

Over the last few years the term diet in diet drinks has been used to try and convince us that we can still enjoy these highly sweetened drinks without any detriment to our health. Convincing us that stripping out sugar and using “zero calorie” alternatives are the way forwards.

So lets just take a look at what they use as a sugar replacement…


Artificial Sweeteners

There are many different sweeteners used as a substitute for sugar, so manufacturers can use the term Diet, just because it has less calories, which I have just outlined, means nothing at all when it comes to your health.



Sucralose is a combination of glucose and fructose, which are 2 different forms of sugar. Chlorine molecules are added to create a totally synthetic compound. This is not a natural molecule produced in nature and the body is not designed to metabolise it. In fact, it cannot metabolise it so it therefore does not have any calories, hence why there are claims it is calories free. If it could metabolise it, then it would have a calorific value.

However, although it is claimed that Sucralose is not absorbed, research on animals has shown that 15% of sucralose is absorbed. There is evidence to suggest it is absorbed by fat. Further studies have shown that Sucralose can decrease the good bacteria in the intestine by 50%. This has a negative impact on your digestive process.

It also negatively affects a protein in the body that is beneficial to health. Many people have complained about symptoms from sucralose intake, namely migraines, dizziness and blurred vision.



Aspartame is an artificial sweetener and is made from three chemicals, Methanol, Aspartic Acid and Phenylalanine.

Methanol: When aspartame reaches the small intestine the methanol breaks down into formaldehyde (what they use to replace blood in dead bodies) and formic acid in the body, both of these chemicals have enormous difficulty being detoxified or broken down by the body and being excreted.

Both formaldehyde and methanol are neurotoxins. Neuro toxins are substances that are poisonous and destructive to your nervous system. So methanol poisoning symptoms are many and varied including weakness, behavioural disturbances, vision problems, numbness, pain, and memory lapses. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen.

Aspartic acid when used in excess; has been linked to neurological symptoms. Aspartate acts as a neurotransmitter that, in excess, allows influx of calcium into nerve cells, which can lead to cell death. It is known as an excitotoxin. This can lead to memory loss and in children can lead to hyperactivity.

Phenylalanine is an amino acid found in the brain. Ingestion of aspartame can lead to excessive phenylalanine, leading to decreased serotonin (the happy hormone). Decreased serotonin has been linked with the inability to sleep and depression.

Aspartame toxicity can lead to symptoms of memory loss, frequent headaches and craving more aspartame laced food or drink.


Acesulfame K

This is a sweetener about 200 times sweeter than sugar. It contains the carcinogen methylene chloride, known to cause confusion, headaches and visual disturbances. Basic safety testing has only been done on animals and conclusive data on risks in humans is unknown.


Avoid Artificial Sweeteners!

The simple fact is, artificial sweeteners should be avoided!

They have been shown to stimulate the appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings and actually stimulate fat storage and hence weight gain. Exactly what that not marketed for.

It is easy to blindly accept this marketing hype. Just because some says it is ok, doesn’t mean it is. We are creatures of nature and designed to live off what the land provides, not what is created in a lab. There is simply no need from a health standpoint to drink it.


8 Reasons not to have Diet Drinks

It confuses your body

Artificial sweeteners a much sweeter than real sugar, which  over time allows products like fizzy diet drinks dull our senses to naturally sweet foods like fruit. Even more troubling, even though these are termed diet drinks, these alternatives to sugar have been shown to have the same effect on your body as sugar.  So they still trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode that can lead to weight gain.


It Could Lead to Weight Gain NOT weight Loss

Just because the labels claim that fizzy diet drinks are calorie free won’t necessarily help you lose weight. Studies have shown that over the course of about a decade, people drinking these diet drinks had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference compared with non-drinkers. Heres the thing. Participants of the study who drank at least 2 or more drinks experienced a far greater increase, sometimes as much as 500%

There are claimed psychological reasons too. If someone thinks they are drinking no calories they will eat more junk food that comes with it thinking that it is ok to do so.


It’s associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes

Type II Diabetes is rising at an alarming rate in recent years and has now reached 300 million people worldwide. Diabetes is highly associated with sugar consumption and obesity, which is why the argument for replacing sugar with artificial alternatives came around. However there is now evidence to suggest this is the case.  One study showed that having diet drinks doubled the risk of type II diabetes.


The link to Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is defined as having the following risk factors that can raise your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

Increased abdominal belly fat

Elevated Blood Pressure

Low HDL Cholesterol levels

High Glucose

High levels of triglycerides

Drinking “calorie free” drinks instead of sugar ones makes no difference against metabolic syndrome.


It has been associated with depression

It has been proved that there is a link between diet drinks and depression.

A recent study found that over the course of 10 years, people who drank more than four cans of soda a day were 30% more likely to develop depression than those who steered clear of sugary drinks. The correlation held true for both regular and diet drinks, but the risk appeared to be greater for those who primarily drank diet drinks. Although this type of study can’t prove cause and effect, its findings are worth considering.


It may cause heart problems

Just one diet soft drink a day could harm your health and could boost your risk of having a vascular event such as stroke, heart attack or vascular death studies have found. Diet soda drinkers were 43% more likely to have experienced a vascular problem than those who drank none. Regular soda drinkers did not appear to have an increased risk of vascular problems, although we have already covered other potential health problems associated with drinking sugary beverages. Researchers say more studies need to be conducted before definitive conclusions can be made about diet soda’s effects on health.


It has no nutritional value

When you drink diet soda even though you are told you are taking in zero calories, it makes no difference if it still triggers your hormone insulin. The fact is you are also not swallowing anything that does your body any good, either. The best no calorie drink is Plain old water.

Water is essential for many of our bodily processes, so replacing it with diet soda is a negative thing. It does not give the body what it needs to feel and perform at its best. If it’s the fizziness you crave, try sparkling water.

If your taste buds are so tuned into taste, then cut and squeeze a fresh lime or lemon to make a healthy thirst quenching beverage.


Artificial Sweetener is linked to headaches

Early studies on aspartame suggests that this artificial sweetener may trigger headaches in some people. I have several clients who used to suffer from migraines and pinpointed their cause to diet drinks.

Your body tells you every day what it likes and does not like, but most people do not listen, they have simply chosen to ignore the signs.


What will happen if you stop?

 Replacing these drinks with healthier alternatives can alleviate a lot of symptoms.

  • Your mental clarity and focus will be sharper
  • You are more likely to stop getting migraines
  • Your taste buds will be more sensitive to what you ingest
  • Weight loss
  • Stronger Bones
  • Better food choices
  • Diabetes risk decreases
  • Better Kidney Function
  • More energy


There is a whole host of benefit to stopping these drinks. From the points mentioned above to reduction is various neurological symptoms mentioned throughout the article. I would seriously think twice before having diet drinks again.

Your health comes first!


To Summarise

Putting chemicals in your body without any thought of the consequences is way too prevalent in todays society. It is too easy to believe the hype or feel you are losing some kind of edge if you aren’t at least doing the same as everyone else.

And that is where the message is lost. Your body is way smarter than you. It knows what it likes and doesn’t like. It knows what it wants and it tells you should you choose to listen.

Our complex eco systems have no room for the next crazy product that promises to deliver you the best performance or make you stronger, leaner or faster.

Regardless of what sport you partake in, your health is the corner stone of everything you do and it is largely neglected as vanity kicks in and it becomes what you look like in the mirror instead of how you feel inside.

Your health is the only thing you truly own. Get that right and you will naturally become full of energy, more awake and just feel better. Building on that from a performance perspective is easy.

From my experience in nutrition coaching and an avid martial artist, I have no doubt that removing artificial ingredients from your day to day diet will increase your performance

I personally choose to avoid diet soft drinks, mainly because I don’t like the way I feel when I drink them and prefer to keep my body as free of artificial chemicals as possible.

To your strength and Health


Dean Coulson





“Excitotoxins” book by Dr Russell Blaylock

“The Sugar Detox” Book by Brooke Alpert

“10 Reasons to give up diet soda” – www.health.com

“8 Things happen when you finally stop drinking diet soda” – www.prevention.com

“Dietary Intake and Metabolic Syndrome” – http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/117/6/754.full.pdf+html
“Hold the Diet Soda, sweetened drinks linked to depression” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130108162135.htm
“Diet soda intake and risk of incident metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes” – http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/4/688.short

“Consumption of artificially and sugar sweetened beverages and type 2 diabetes” – http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2013/01/30/ajcn.112.050997.abstract

“Fuelling the obesity epidemic? Artificially sweetened beverage use and long term weight gain” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18535548

“Coke and pepsi concede that maybe soda is bad for you” – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/09/23/coke-and-pepsi-concede-that-maybe-soda-is-bad-for-you/
“Diet soft drink consumption is associated with increased risk of vascular events” – http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11606-011-1968-2


About Dean Coulson

• International Best Selling Author of the Fit Formula • Feature writer on Nutrition for the Uk’s biggest selling Martial arts magazine – Martial Arts Illustrated • Presenter & speaker - Tour the UK with Bafta Award Winning writer Geoff Thompson. (www.geofthompsoninspired.com ) • Owner and Performance coach at Assert Fitness Ltd. Taking our clients Dreams and makes them a reality, through the realms of coaching all aspects of health and fitness to busy professionals. • www.assert-fitness.co.uk , www.deancoulson.co.uk

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