Okay, we all know that regular pop is terrible for you. That’s a no-brainer. It’s full of refined sugar and refined sugar is bad!
But what about diet pop? It has no sugar and no calories. How bad can it be for you?? Wouldn’t it be okay to drink diet pop instead of regular pop as you seek to lose weight?
Well, before I answer that, let me just say that I used to be a Diet Dr. Pepper ADDICT in my “former life” before P90X! During Round 1, I gave it up completely. Cold turkey! Wow, was that hard!!!
I went with water and flavored water the entire round, and was so proud of myself. Before P90X, I drank at least 100 oz of diet pop per day (a 52 oz. on the way to work and another 52 oz. on the way home), so to completely stop was an amazing accomplishment in my eyes. I never cheated on diet pop during Round 1.
As I started Round 2, I decided to “allow” myself one or 2 diet pops per week, and I don’t think it hurt my outward results at all. Once I broke the addiction, I decided that in moderation I could allow myself just a small amount as a special treat. That’s worked well for me over these last few rounds. Is it as good for me as water? Of course not! But is 1 or 2 diet pops per week going to kill me? Probably not.
When I do have a Diet Dr. Pepper now, it’s as a treat on a date night or something like that. And it’s planned for. I don’t cave into instant cravings when getting gas or driving by the convenience store. That can quickly spiral out of control. But in calculated moderation, a small amount of diet pop won’t derail your progress or results.
And now for the answer to your question. Why is diet pop bad for you? There are a few arguments that don’t worry me too much. They include:
1) It has lots of artificial sweeteners, which studies show can cause harmful effects in high doses.
2) It is believed to trigger an insulin response, which can actually increase our cravings and lead to weight gain by making us more hungry.
3) It often has a lot of caffeine, sodium, and other additives.
I don’t think those are a very big deal as long as you only have a pop/diet pop occasionally. But here’s the one that worries me most as a former Diet Dr. Pepper junkie:
1) It’s full of acid! Acid is BAD! A big influx of acid with heavy pop/diet pop consumption requires our body to use calcium and other stored minerals to re-balance our pH. This can have very detrimental long-term effects on our bone mass (where calcium and minerals are stored).
Yikes! I don’t want to think of my body having to break down my bones to cancel out the acidity of the diet pop I just drank! That’s why keeping it to a minimum is the wise decision! It has nothing to do with whether or not it will make you fat. It has everything to do with what it’s doing to your body’s long term health and vitality!
Watch this video to learn more about our body’s pH and how pop/diet pop can throw it off big time!
I would like to say high to everyone I am on my fourth day of p90x and am very strict with my diet. I have found the carbonation of the drinks to be refreshing on a hot day so I drink a mineral water that is carbonated. Try it as a healthy alternative to diet pop. There is a whole list of minerals included. SanPellegrino
Would sport drinks with no calories like powercase zero and propel zero be ok to have? They would not be replacing my water
I will drink a few diet sodas a week maybe on Sundays or special occasions. I also have a sodastream soda maker. The diet lemon-lime and diet ginger ale have only 20mg of sodium and are not sweetened with aspartame. Would that be ok to drink. Also I am a huge fan of propel zero and powerade zero. Would those be better than diet soda? Thanks
Spencer - In the scope of things, it is far better than regular pop! If it is limited and in moderation, you will be fine. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and don't let these diet drinks replace your water.
Hey Coach. Can you let me know how to fit Shakeology into my diet in order to get the best weight loss out of it ?
I have never been a big pop drinker and even less to zero (as in none) diet soda/pop,never liked the taste of diet drinks....YUKE! Good one C.W.
Wayne, you were the one that got me to give up carbonated beverages cold turkey, and I have never regretted that decision. I drink water, black coffee, and unsweetened ice tea. I rarely, if ever use sweetener. It is hard initially when you loved the crispness of cola and were used to sweet tastes. However, you adjust and actually enjoy the flavor of the plain beverages after a while. I feel much better and my wife is even on track to kick the cola addiction. I'm hoping I can keep my son from becoming an addict. I still haven't given up beer or wine, but I am much more in moderation with those items. They would be my cheat items.
Another great post, coach! I quit cold turkey like you. Hardest thing I did. Gave it up Round 1 a year and a half ago and I have not had a single soda since. Funny thing is that I no longer miss it and, at the time, I did know if I could live without it! LOL!
Hey Dominic, check out this map that shows what Americans call generic soft drinks between Coke, Pop, Soda. Where you grow up dictates what you call it. Very interesting. http://strangemaps.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/popvssodamap.gif
Hey coach, I've seen instances where a particular piece of food is "sugar free" but it contains "sugar alcohol". And in most instances high doses like 10-20 g of the stuff. Do you know what sugar alcohol is and what it does?
Hey Joseph, sugar alcohol gives foods a sweet taste but it isn't absorbed like sugar into the body. It is okay in MODERATION but too much of it will give you GI issues so don't do much of it. There is some in the Pure Protein bars I eat, and if I eat 3-4 in a day (which I try not to do very often) I'll feel it LOL!
I've never tried energy drinks either. Some schools in our area are prohibiting energy drinks entirely. (What young people choose to eat and drink at home is at the discretion of their parents, an issue covered very well by your previous blog.) This may sound crazy, but I am a coffee drinker, and I use pure protein and designer whey as my vanilla coffee creamer. About 100 calories in the morning along with 15-20 grams of protein.
Actually I've never tried the energy drinks at all (monster, amp, 5 hour energy, etc). I just figure why get hooked on something that can't be very good for you LOL.
Hey Dr. Wyatt, As if drinking high doses of diet sodas of any kind can be harmful enough to your body. High doses can actually cause Choroidal Serous Retinopathy (CSR). We see patients who are so called "soda addicts" every day. Now CSR is usually caused by high stress levels. But studies have shown that high amounts of diet sodas can be a factor in this condition as well. Usually, CSR can resolve on its own over time. But in rare cases treatment usually involves an intravitreal Avastin injection (Anti-VEGF). An injection in the eye I think is something to think about in case someone wants to continue this addiction. Cheers... ; )
Alright Coach....Monster Rehab?? How is that? It has 10 calories, and no carbs. I was a energy drink junkie, and have allowed myself to have a few of these recently. Are these as bad as diet soda?
I never liked diet soda.. The chemical aftertaste that remains in my mouth makes me feel sick.. It's like drinking chemical which makes the teeth rot
Chris when you open a can of soda as you call it what noise does it make? It sure doesn't sound like soda to me. It sounds like Pop thats why we call it pop.
I've always wondered why it's still bad, very interesting and informative article coach. I pride myself on not having drunk a single drop of anything carbonated for over 4 years now! :D It's just not worth it for me, I'm perfectly happy with water for mostly everything! lol
Hey Coach, Another great article, I dont drink fizzy drinks but my fiance does (Diet Pepsi being her poison), I havent been able to give her good enough reasons to cut it out so this is very helpful. How about fruit juices as I have heard they are just as bad but my daughter likes a small carton a couple of times a day? Also, just wanted to say thank you for your website/videos. I turned 30 today and Im in the best shape Ive ever been in thanks to you through your work here and the tips you have given me over the past 5 months. Cheers!
Hey Danny, I'm not a big fan of juice since most nutritional value of the fruit is long gone by the point you drink it from a bottle or carton. Eating fruit and drinking water would be a better choice. With that said, I let my kids be kids and they drink apple juice at least 2-3 times a week. It goes back to what I was talking about yesterday with kids -- they don't need to be as rigorous about a nutrition plan as long as they are learning good long term principles for a healthy lifestyle.
I've gone cold turkey on all drinks except water and just started week 5. I might try some flavorings after my first 90 day round, but for now, I like knowing that I'm commited to my health and giving my body what it needs. I used to drink a lot of Gatorade G2 and diet soda. Coach, what are some of the flavorings that you use? I see that new product Mio at the grocery store. What should I look for in my flavorings?
Hey Brandon, at this point I don't use any flavorings, but when I was using flavoring I'd just get the crystal light knock-offs (orange early rise from walmart was a favorite of mine but I'd only go half-strength).
So u r saying a regular pepsi once or twice a week after u reach ur goals is ok? I havent had a pepsi for the 31 days ive been doing my p90x/insanity hybrid. After my 90 days, as long as ive reached my goals, allowing myself 1 or 2 cans a week would b gr8! Can i go reg pepsi again, or do u suggest diet instead!
If you feel like a diet soda but want to avoid the sodium and artificial sugars, try Zevia. Its a bit expensive, but it is uses stevia as the sweetener and has only 20mg of sodium per can. Drinking a lot is still bad as far as acid is concerned, but its way better than a "diet" soda. You can find them at Sprouts, Natural Grocers and Whole foods.
Very good article. I was a 2-liter a day guy before P90X. I quit cold turkey as well, and I never thought that I could. I will admit that my coffee intake has gone up since quiting Diet Coke, but that is something that I'm working on too. I didn't realize that it used the calcium from your bones to counter-act all the acid. Great read coach. Thanks.
Thanks for the article Dubya. I gave up Diet Coke and other diet drinks on November 1st, 2011 and haven't had one since. It was very hard for me. I probably drank 5 of them a day. I know that it was instrumental in my weight loss and getting healthy. Also, it is great knowing that all that JUNK is no longer working its way into my cells everyday. Thanks for all you do!!! God Bless.
What is your feeling on black coffee? I was a soda drinker and cut it out, cold turkey, but I've been having roughly 20 oz. of coffee a day. I'm on phase 2 of P90X and was wondering if I should cut it out completely. The only other liquid I drink is water. Thanks for your help. Matt
Wayne, I think you're amazing so I am sorry to burst your bubble. There are lots of things that can affect your blood pH (and therefore trigger compensatory mechanisms), such as hypoxia, diabetic ketoacidosis, sepsis and other forms of shock as well as kidney disease. Acidic drinks are not one of them. Most fruits are acidic and we are encouraged to eat those! The main problem of acidity is on your teeth, which I'm sure you know as an orthodontist. Straight away, when this video talks about coffee having a pH of 3, its clear that there are a lot of factual problems and I remain skeptical about the rest of it. Other than that, keep up the good work and keep inspiring people!
All valid points Dr. And I have the same overall skepticism of unilateral statements when an agenda is at stake. But we all agree that while fruit is a wonderful food, pop is terrible for you on many levels.
I pretty much gave up Diet Coke. I drink one here and there. I think the last time was 3 weeks ago or something like that. I can relate to you Coach. I was a complete addict. One daily before P90X.