With summer just around the corner, many individuals are currently transitioning into fat loss phases. Oftentimes this will include approaches that may not be necessary, sustainable or even supported by science.

The purpose of this article is to discuss the science (or lack thereof) surrounding several common fat loss myths often touted as fact around the fitness community. My hope is that this article will help those cutting for summer avoid these traps and find a sustainable and healthy approach to reach their fat loss goals.

 

Diet soda inhibits fat loss

Diet soda has been demonized for a number of potential reasons, particularly safety. As a result, the safety of aspartame (the artificial sweetener most commonly used in diet soda) has been widely studied. An extensive review on aspartame published in Critical Reviews in Toxicology concluded that aspartame intakes up to 40-50 mg / kg bodyweight / day in humans does not result in negative health consequences [1]. This is well above the approximately 150-200mg aspartame found in a can of most diet sodas.

Others argue that the high acid load in diet soda causes changes in blood pH which have detrimental effects on bone and other tissues. However, there is no evidence that human diets have a significant effect on blood pH in individuals with normal kidney function [2].

Looking specifically at the effects of diet soda on fat loss, many argue that diet soda tricks the body into thinking it is consuming sugar or that it makes individuals crave sugary food and eat more calories, blunting fat loss. In reality, the data does not show this to be the case. There is no evidence artificial sweeteners stimulate insulin secretion like sugar in healthy or diabetic individuals [3][4].

Weight loss interventions including diet soda have observed as much or more weight loss than if diet soda was excluded from the diet [5][6]. Moreover, recent meta-analyses have concluded that replacement of sugar sweetened beverages with artificially sweetened beverages results in a reduced calorie intake and greater fat loss.

Taken together, this means that diet soda consumption while dieting is not going to inhibit fat loss and if it helps to curb cravings it may even help an individual to stay consistent with their diet during a fat loss phase. With that being said, it is still likely best to get a majority of fluid from water each day and consume diet soda in moderation.

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