Diet Beverages: Should You Drink Them?

Diet Coke Taylor Swift

Click to view: Taylor Swift, Diet Coke and Kittens

This is a frequently debated question and one of the most common questions I get asked as a Registered Dietitian. My response is that water should always be your beverage of choice, preferably from the tap.  In fact the 2015 advisory committee for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines quoted me (well maybe not directly) on this topic. It’s free, environmentally friendly and is found in every living cell of your body. However, there is an overwhelming body of evidence in support of diet beverages as a safe option for individuals who are trying to lose weight, stay hydrated and add variety to their beverage options.

Diet Beverages and Weight Loss

Dieters who drank diet beverages as part of their overall weight loss program lost 44 percent more than those who drank water alone according to a clinical study conducted by Wyatt and Foster at the University of Colorado.  Some studies suggest that people are more apt to be successful in maintaining a low-calorie diet when using low and no-calorie sweeteners because food and beverages taste better.

Diet Beverages and Appetite Control

Participants who consumed low and no-calorie sweetened beverages experienced no difference in food cravings as compared to those who drank water. They also ate fewer desserts according to the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) study.

Diet Beverages and Blood Sugar

Low and no-calorie beverages do not cause a glycemic effect because they don’t contain calories according to the American Diabetes Association’s Nutrition Therapy Recommendations.  Unlike regular soda or other sugar containing beverages, your appetite is less apt to rebound after drinking them.

Low Calorie Sweeteners and Safety

The World Health Organization (WHO), United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regulate and have approved all of the low-calorie sweeteners as being safe for consumption.

Diet Beverages and Children

In the United States, liquid sugar beverages represent 41 percent of the added sugar in children’s diets. However diet soda should not be a replacement for more nutritional options such as water, low-fat dairy and 100% fruit juice (limited to 1 serving/day.)

Diet Beverages and Diet Quality

People who eat a balanced diet are more apt to drink low and no-calorie beverages according to the federal government’s National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES.) They found that people who consume low-calorie foods and fluids are more likely to be aware of what they eat and consciously strive to eat a more balanced diet.

Diet Soda and Bone Health

Do drink diet soda in moderation as too much can interfere with your bone density.  The cause of this is two-fold.  First people who consume excessive amounts of diet sodas may substitute it for calcium and Vitamin D rich milk.  Secondly, the phosphate levels in diet soda may draw calcium away from the bones increasing your risk for fractures.

Bottomline: Make water your beverage of choice, but a diet soda can be a safe and refreshing change of pace once in awhile.


Citation: Peters JC, Wyatt HR, Foster GD, et al. “The Effects of Water and Non-nutritive Sweetened Beverages on Weight Loss during a 12-week Weight Loss Treatment Program.” Obesity. 22.6 (2014): 1415-1421. Available at:

Citation: Piernas C et al. “Does Diet-Beverage Intake Affect Dietary Consumption Patterns? Results from the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) Randomized Clinical Trial.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 97.3 (2013): 604–11. Available at:

Evert A. “Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes.” Diabetes Care. 36.11 (2013): 3821-42

Consumption of Added Sugar Among U.S. Children and Adolescents, 2005-2008, a data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Categories: Nutrition & Wellness

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: