Diet Coke / Coke Zero

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  • I have read 2 fasting books. Eat fast, live longer and The Fast Way (both on my kindle I think) and The Fast Way mentioned that drinking diet coke, even though it had zero calories is bad as the sweeteners encouraged you to crave sugar, does anyone else get this?

    I decided to give up Diet Coke for New Years and so far I would agree, I am going for the biscuit drawer a whole lot less now!

    Hi Rachel and welcome:

    The belief that artificial sweeteners encourage a person to crave sugar is widely repeated and has taken on the mantle of absolute truth. However, I am not aware of any research that supports the belief.

    In fact, the research on the topic I have seen concludes just the opposite – that the brain clearly can distinguish between sugar and artificial sweeteners, and the artificial sweeteners do not generate the same response in the brain and body as does sugar and carbs in general.–spt.html

    Few substances have been studied more over the years than artificial sweeteners. The sugar industry has launched salvo after salvo of research proving that they are all bad for the body in some way or another. After all, sugar is ‘natural’ and therefore must be good! The initial slam was that they caused cancer – a ‘research finding’ that was discredited when it was discovered the researcher fed the poor mouse more sweetener than a human would consume in a thousand years. The ban on the sweetener that was put on because of the ‘research’ was subsequently lifted.

    The ‘least sweet’ artificial sweetener is about 200 times more sweet than sugar – the ‘most sweet’ about 600 times (actually there is a new one just approved that is 20,000 times more sweet, but I am not aware that it is in the food supply chain yet) . So think of a teaspoon of sugar, then divide it into about 400 equal amounts (maybe equal to about one grain of sugar) – and that is how much artificial sweetener you are ingesting when you drink a glass of artificially sweetened soda. I would suggest that the other contents of the artificially sweetened drinks/foods probably have a much greater negative effect on the body than does the sweetener.

    So if you decide not to drink soda, or drink/eat artificially sweetened anything, do it for reasons other than the sweetener. The fact is they are proven safe and contain 0 calories, and that is usually a good thing if you are on a diet and like sweet things to eat!

    Simcoluv, I totally agree, I use a sweetener in my tea and coffee, and have done for absolute years. It wasn’t a dietary thing, I just don’t like the actual taste of sugar. As for causing the craving for sweet things, It has never happened, maybe it depends on how much you use, but just one sweetener in a drink has no effect other than taking that sharp taste away. I also use zero coke on fasting days and find it filling, plus I do get coffee/tea logged πŸ˜‰ so it’s nice to have a cold fizzy drink in the heat. The other thing, for many years, diabetics had no alternative so it has made their meals and drinks more palatable. …….CG πŸ˜€ xxxxx

    Thanks, Simcoeluv – I was just wondering about this myself and had a Google search but got bogged down in the millions of hits decrying artificial sweeteners altogether! I much prefer a fact-based, to-the-best-of-knowledge approach.

    Personally I don’t know why you’d bother with artificial sweeteners anyway. And I can’t abide fizzy drinks either.

    However, with reference to Simco’s post, it’s hardly surprising that sugar industry research would be biased in favour of sugar and vice versa. I haven’t read the original research paper that Simco provides a Yahoo summary link to, but I’m not sure why that would be any more reputable than any other study on the subject? For starters, who funded that particular piece of research? I note the lead author receives funding from a variety of sources, including ‘industry partners’…

    Published research papers should be taken with a pinch of salt (not sugar πŸ™‚ ). They don’t necessarily present facts or full results, and studies can be seriously flawed.

    And don’t be too hasty to discount anecdotal evidence. It’s as least as reliable as the ‘evidence’ presented by industry and it’s partners. And widely used in the medical profession to understand the risks/ side effects of drugs (essential since the drug company overstates benefits and underplays risks).

    And anyway Simco, I know you’ve set yourself up as some sort of fasting guru and expert, but I’m not sure that you’ve ever provided your credentials…? Your posts are always interesting, but it’s mostly just your opinion based on a cherry-pick of the literature?

    Rachel, it all boils down to going with what suits you, as with 5:2…. Good luck πŸ˜„

    I’m not one for fizzy drinks apart from mineral water and the occasional tonic water to go with my gin πŸ˜‰ but the way I see it is that if it is artificially made then I don’t want to eat or drink it. I do use sweetener occasionally and I’ve opted for stevia.

    Rachel, if giving up Diet Coke works for you that is great and scientific evidence stating that artificial sweeteners don’t have the same effect on the brain as sugar is irrelevant as I’m certain that our brains are sophisticated enough to say “I want sugar not that artificial stuff” which might well lead us to the biscuit tin.

    I’m with Happy as far as research papers are concerned. Reading the small print about the authors is imperative to take a balanced view as so many of them seem to be funded by whoever is promoting/manufacturing/selling the hero of the article.

    I’ve seen it all now. Discount all scientific research in favour of anecdotal ‘evidence’. Good one.
    Whilst the veracity of all research papers can never be treated as gospel (see Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre) it is vital that fact wins out over opinion and conspiracy theories don’t seep in to muddy the waters.

    The study was very small, only 10 participants, and it suggests the possibility of a sixth sense in the mouth for carbohydrates but offers no evidence to back this suggestion up. That is hardly convincing.


    Of course fact should win out over opinion and conspiracy theory, but it would be naive of anyone to automatically think something is fact because it was said by a scientist/ published in the literature.

    I’ve given up fried foods and junk foods to keep the weight off; don’t take away my Diet Pepsi too!


    Sorry but I have to disagree with the fact that there is no negative effect by eating artificial sweeteners. Your brain interprets the sweetness and in anticipation expects to get a glucose hit. When this glucose spike does not arrive the brain panics. You will as a result seek other sweet things to appease the brain’s anticipated glucose spike that never arrived. Have yet to hear any “bad press” about water. I drink carbonated water, San Pelligrino. Yum!!

    Hi bigbooty:

    What you describe is exactly what the research shows does not happen. All of the drinks were artificially sweetened – the brain only demanded more from the drinks containing carbs.

    Point me to these journal articles. Id be interested to read them.

    The signals from the mouth send a message to the brain and body that energy is coming, indicating β€œhelp is on the way,” which may allow a depleted body to keep going, he said.

    β€œBut if nutrients aren’t swallowed, and don’t arrive in the bloodstream,” Gant said, β€œthe brain may be writing checks that the body can’t cash later in the race!”

    OK I found the link. I’ll have to get the actual journal article to see the whole study. But at this stage I stand by what I said. Your interpretation of the two quotes above must be different to mine. So when help doesn’t arrive in the way of calories (ie you had an artificial sweetener) what do you think the body will be attempting to do soon afterwards? It will be demanding calories.

    An isolated study with only ten particants isn’t worth the paper it is written on unless further research indicates similar with more in the way of evidence and less speculation.

    Many people find diet sodas helpful when dieting. I don’t care for them and find sparkling Scottish mineral water does the trick.

    ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’ (Michael Mosley UK TV program) has just reported a small study comparing the effects of saccharin vs stevia on blood sugar. Saccharin raised blood sugar, and for some (perhaps half the population) could push them into diabetes. Saccharin also quickly resulted in altered gut bacteria. The program suggested aspartamine might have the same effect (although this was not tested). Apparently stevia did not raise blood sugar.

    Hmm, I think I’ll stick with my opinion that sweeteners are not a benign healthy product.

    After more than 10 years having one or more soda cans of diet a day, I concluded that I felt like shite and left the stuff. Never looked back!

    At best artificially sweetened drinks are benign and have no effect. At worst they stimulate a desire to seek real sweet calories. Water on the other hand has no detrimental effects although Im sure an industry sponsored study could find its use “dangerous”. I mean people drown in the stuff every day and Ive yet to read a report of someone drowning in diet coke.

    Hahaha bigbooty! I know I have been in other regions of the internet where drinking more than a gallon of water a day is dangerous!!! Those same people sip 64oz sodas throughout the day and find it innocent because it’s fat-free.

    It is probably best to wean the mind/body off any soda drinks, diet, zero or whatever version.

    Sugar cravings is mainly a mental thing; the body can easily do without sugars for a short while. So when the body gets used to getting less sugars or sweet food/drinks, the mind will demand less too.

    I’d trust sugar-industry funded research about as much as I’d trust the tobacco industry. The Times exposed their tactics earlier this year.

    I understand that Aspartame, used in diet coke, had its licence refused seven times, but Coca Cola eventually got its way. I prefer to be as natural as possible and a chemical sweetener merely helps to maintain our sweet tooth. We all make our own choices and mine is that I want to avoid sugary junk and think it’s easier and better to lose the taste for sweet things. It then becomes very easy to say no to such ‘treats’.

    Spot on Stephen. There is no dietary reason we need to have sugary drinks and artificially sweetened drinks just top up the “sweet tooth” response. One just needs to look at the size of the persons drinking coke zero to see the concept of low cal drinks isn’t working. I drink sparkling mineral water.

    And your right, the longer you don’t have sweet stuff the less you want it.

    The odd Diet Coke or other diet drink is not a problem. I don’t find Coke to be sweet, anyway.

    I agree, I rarely drink diet soda but if I do it would be maybe once a week (one soda) out with friends or something. I might have mine with a small cup of chili or side salad – not a triple bacon cheeseburger with fries, however.

    Doesn’t break your fast, it has also 32gm of sodium, that is specifically necessary in longest fast..

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