Is Diet Soda Bad For You?

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When diet drinks became more and more popular back in the mid nineties when I was but a budding bodybuilding competitor, I thought that it was the perfect solution, a non sugared, zero calorie drink that I could indulge in without any concern. My coaches back at the time, old timers all of them, expressed their opinion that if the brain perceives what is being consumed as sugar, then the body will respond with the concurrent insulin spike. (An insulin spike that thus sets in motion the body's fat storage mechanisms) At the time, I was not completely convinced by their argument, but I heeded their advice nonetheless- after all, I had seen what those that listened to what they had to say looked like and as such I saw no reason to distrust their instincts.
As luck would have it, there actually have been studies that indeed show that even though their is no actual presence of glucose, the body does indeed secrete insulin in response to consuming a diet drink, much in the way that Pavlov's dog would salivate at the sound of a bell after being fed a tasty treat every time a bell would ring. So in the end, it turns out that they were right all the time.
I would also add that diet sodas are the very manifestation of a food product that is in no way a natural part of a human diet and on that basis alone it should be avoided, but there are other more concrete reasons to not drink them. One important factor is the high phosphorous content which may be a factor in osteoporosis as phosphates have been shown to deplete calcium. Other countries (usually poorer ones) that do not consume dairy products nor high levels of ingested calcium do not have the same problems with osteoporosis as does the U.S. and other developed countries, one leading theory lays the blame on America's number one drink- soda, and its kissing cousin, the now fashionable diet soda.
All of these issues aside, and not even mentioning the potential dangers of artificial sweeteners, I have seen in my own experience over the years that clients that trained consistently and ate properly made better progress in terms of overall bodyfat loss than those that ate and trained consistently, but consumed diet sodas regularly. It is usually the last thing to go for my clients as they make the slow transition towards eating in a way that allows them to stay in shape all year round, from their original eating habits, and when the diet drinks are stopped, there is a marked difference in their progress.
It may not be a scientifically validated double blind study, but it is what I have seen over the years, and it makes sense. I also believe that the ability to eat properly requires a movement away from that which is simply not good for you, and by drinking a diet soda, you are in a way continuing in the behavior of accepting that particular taste as something positive as opposed to working to accustom yourself to the tastes of foods that are indeed good for you.

Kevin Richardson
copyright 2006

About The Author:  Featured on ESPN Radio and Fox 5 News, Good Day New York, Kevin Richardson, is one of America's most prolific personal fitness training gurus and the founder of the Naturally Intense System. You can get his new EBook for free here and you can read more of his articles as well as learn more about the Naturally Intense Lifestyle at

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