People who drink diet soda in order to help lower calorie reduction may not be succeeding. According to a new study, those who choose diet soft drinks typically ended up eating more foods filed with cholesterol, sugar, salt and fats. It’s not that drinking diet soda causes someone to eat unhealthier foods – it’s actually a bit more psychological.
According to Dr. Ruopeng An, one of the study’s lead authors, there are two potential theories behind the trend. One is that people who drink low-calorie drinks feel justified in eating more since they feel as though they made a healthy choice previously. On the other hand, people may feel guilty about eating foods loaded with sugar and fat and therefore turn to diet sodas to help assuage their guilt. Dr. An reports that it could be one, the other or a mix causing this trend.
In the study, researchers analyzed data collected on the eating habits of more than 22,000 American adults. The participants were instructed to report everything they ate and/or drank on two different days. Scientists looked at total daily calorie intake along with choices in beverages and consumption of discretionary foods that are high in calories but low in nutritional value (French fries, candy, etc.). Researchers found that particiapnts who drink diet drinks are not really “saving” any calories because they ate more discretionary foods.
90 percent of study participants ate discretionary foods quite regularly, leading to an average daily caloric intake of 482 – all of it junk. 43 percent of respondents drank sugary drinks while 21 percent preferred diet beverages. Although diet beverage drinkers consumed fewer total calories per day than their peers, they tended to get a larger percentage of their total calories from unhealthy, discretionary foods.
Dr. An stated that people wishing to lose weight must not rely on switching to diet drinks alone, as it may not work as intended. He recommends that people take note of the types of foods they eat and encourages a reduction in both sugary beverages and discretionary foods. By paying attention to portion sizes, cutting down on fats and increasing activity levels, people will be more likely to lose weight and keep it off. This study may anger some people in the soda industry, since people believed up until now that diet soda was the perfect option to shed some pounds – unfortunately, it’s just not enough.
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