Diet soda – yes or no?

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Diet soda – yes or no?

This topic contains 51 replies, has 39 voices, and was last updated by  bougti 4 years, 8 months ago.

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  • Diet soda – yes or no?

    As readers of The Fast Diet know, the very best drink on a Fast Day is water – plenty of it, still or sparkling, with nothing added save an ice cube (if the weather ever improves enough to warrant it!). A lemon or lime slice can be nice. If you are looking for flavour, go for herbal tea, green tea, black tea and black coffee – if you add milk, the stealth calories soon add up.

    Fruit juice and smoothies, though considered a ‘healthy’ option, in fact contain a lot of fruit sugars and are no replacement for eating the whole fruit, particularly on a Fast Day, when you are looking to avoid anything that will lead to an unwelcome spike in your blood sugars.

    Lots of people have asked about The Fast Diet position on fizzy drinks. ‘Full-fat’ sodas are, of course, stacked with sugar – up to 10 teaspoons per can – so it’s no surprise that they should be avoided on a Fast Day. Diet sodas generally rely on aspartame or sucralose for their sweetness. There is some concern about the effects of these intense sweeteners on appetite and gut bacteria, and one study recently linked aspartame with certain blood cancers in men (though not in women).

    The answer is that there is no clear answer on diet soda, at least not yet – so exercise caution. If a Diet Coke gets you through a Fast Day, fine. But limit your consumption over the course of a week. And if you’re reaching for the can time and again, reach for the tap too, whenever you can.

    I’ve never been a big fan of fizzy drinks, but then I’ve never been a big fan of water either, it never seemed to quench my thirst and tasted a bit funny – we have very hard water down here. So, I always drank squash, not being much of a tea or coffee drinker either. On my first fast I decided to stick to water to save the cals, even though I wasn’t keen on it. The next morning I poured my usual glass of squash and found it far too sweet! Fasting has turned me back on to water and it’s now my drink of choice – love it 🙂 I feel much better for it and am saving money now I only have to buy squash for the husband.

    The moral of the story? If you think you’re not keen on water, well just make yourself drink nothing but it for a day. If you’ve the willpower to fast, you’ve the willpower to do that. It may susprise you how you feel about water after just a day on it and away from your usual drinks!

    Talking of drinks… Interesting fact: a recent survey found that the average working Briton spends £7.81 a day on lunch, drinks and snacks. Since these are the very things you sacrifice on a Fast Day, your saving in a week could be around £15. That’s £60 in a month. More than enough for a new bikini, right?

    There seems to be a persistent rumour that ‘Diet drinks make you fat’ because the chemicals and the manufacturing processes involved affect the body’s ability to break down the food eaten alongside. I am not aware of any actual research into this but if anyone else is I’d be grateful for a link 🙂

    @fab50 Have a look on YouTube for the documentary series ‘The Men Who Made Us Fat’, it’s a real eye opener 🙂

    Thanks shiningmoogie! Will do.

    What beverages other than water are acceptable/not acceptable on fast days? Is wine permitted on non-fast days?

    slocol, wine is permitted but of course if you consume excessive calories on non-fast days you won’t lose weight, so I tend to keep it to one glass so as not to sabotage my weight loss efforts. The general rule of thumb is to eat and drink nornally on non-fast days. Good luck!

    @slocol: You can drink what you like on a fast day, just as long as you count the calories towards your limit – hence most of us choose 0 cal drinks where possible – water, black tea, black coffee, fruit tea etc. Juices are high in cals so best avoided if you want to eat too! You can have milk in your tea if you count the cals, same for sugar (although best avoided). Some folks like weak squash for a few cals, or even an oxo cube or marmite in hot water for a low cal savoury ‘soup’ drink!

    I’ve begun the 5:2 diet second fast day is today and going well!

    I am undertaking the diet purely for the health benefits rather than to lose weight, as I am fairly petite weighing 8st 4lbs, height 5ft 0.1″. Waist measurement at smallest part of stomach 28″ and across tummy button widest part 30″. Age 44.

    Having said that I the scales in ‘Boots the Chemist’ gave me a reading of B.M.I. 22.6 and a body fat reading of 35.9% (which sounds incredibly high) does anyone know how accurate these machines are regarding body fat???

    Also as a petite build will an intake of 500 calories on a fast day be too many for the fast to be effective?

    I am really worried about my body fat reading now I am alarmed I have 35.9% body fat – really scary the thought of being TOFI?

    All my adult life my weight has been circa 7st 13lbs to 8st 6lbs, I have very rarely ate chocolate, cakes, biscuits, sweets or sugary drinks over the past 30 years. I probably drink two glasses of wine on average per week.

    I generally have had a healthy diet on the whole no takeaways fast foods etc, So I am baffled about my 35.9% body fat – could this be purely down to lack of exercise? Please please advise.

    Caddie – there are bdy-fat calculations available online which take BMI, age and gender into account. The one I tried for you gave 31.84% fat which is a considerable saving but I would still not trust it – the same formula gave me 22.5% fat but I can hardly pinch anything now, thanks to 5:2. Age based calculations assume that we lose lean mass so the difference must be fat – not always the case if you are active… Not sure how accurate Boots machine is but the impedance-based measurements rely on skin resistance being ‘normal’ – sweaty or dry will chance readings considerably. Pete.

    I’ve struggled with my Body Fat%, but I found that this article really shed some light, so I hope it helps:

    The guy’s a newly started 5:2 dieter, and seems to be in a similar situation to me, so I’ve found it a good read 🙂

    Thanks… but that’s where my worry lies – in the above article on the photographic representation of ladies body fat I look some where between the 25% and 30% photograph. So to have a reading of 35.9% is making me worry I am a TOFI which stands for (THIN on the OUTSIDE FAT on the INSIDE). See page 12 of the FAST DIET book. So my question again is “As a petite build will an intake of 500 calories on a fast day be too many for the fast to be effective to reduce the TOFI excess body fat?

    Hi Caddie, I had a similar question when I calculated my estimated calories used every day to be around 1500 – I was thinking I should maybe consume fewer than 500 in order for the diet to ‘work’ – but Michael said to stick to 500 regardless!

    Can you use Stevia or Eryitherol sweetners?

    Jacqueline – you can certainly use sweeteners if they work for you. I would use Stevia, which is derived from a shrub, over chemical alternatives. I like raw agave nectar too – it is a low-GI sweetener, but you must check the label. Blue raw agave seems best to me. You may find that you lose your sweet tooth after a few months of fasting. I did.

    can you add truvia to your green tea?

    I drink a lot of diet tonic water, as the caffeine in diet coke wires me. But I mean a LOT of tonic water. I’m thinking maybe I should take a break from it for a week and see whether it makes a difference.

    Just started the 5.2 last week and lost 2lbs so far so good.
    My question is, if I do not normally eat 2000 calories on the non fasting days how does going down to 500 calories count as a quarter? Should I work out my normal non fasting days calories then cut this back to say 300 calories.

    N.ow I’ve been on the diet for one week, and today is another fast day. I find the fast easy – I get hungry from 10:30 until 1 pm, then not. I seem to lose 2 lbs fasting, then gain back one, but yesterday 1 1/2 because of Easter. I think this is going to work

    I did my third fast, and have lost 2 pounds, I am pleased !! But this morning after
    My third fast I had gained 2 tenth of a pound, I wonder if this is normal?
    Any thoughts

    I only do soups for my fast days they fill me up and they are easy! I just
    Wonder if they are healthy enough

    What about Bouillon or similar as a hot drink?

    I am completing my third week of the 5.2 Fast diet today. The first Fast day was the only hard day. I did notice that I am not as hungry on non-fast days as I used to be. I am using My Fitness Pal app to track my calories/exercise and that is very helpful. I usually eat less than 1200 calories on the 5 days and the App keeps saying that I will register as in starvation mode. Is this true? I am starting out very overweight (mildly obese) and previous diets have had terrible results. I tend to give up quickly when I check my weight and don’t see the results of my efforts. So I decided I will wait a full month before checking my weight, to avoid discouragement. I do feel that this is a diet that I can follow that will truly change my eating addiction. I do have trouble giving up my skinny latte, but I just adjust my other intake on those days. Thank you for writing this book, which I plan to re-read occasionally.

    @elbarnett… I use the Fitness Pal and it’s a very good tool… I think you need to take note of what it’s saying as you can go into ‘starvation’ mode and your body will work hard to maintain your weight … I think 1200 is a good indicator for the non fast days as its still a low amount… I found that because I was less hungry on feast days, 1200 was a lot.. But it’s those foods like pies and sweet stuff that piles on the calories…

    I started today after the great program with Dr. Mosley shown on TV. It was a wake up call. I have tried by having appropriate meals for breakfast and lunch and then have a bowl of hearty veggie soup for dinner. It got me started by dropping 7# in 7 weeks.
    It can get boring but this system seems to be better because I can place it into my routine with less problems. I have the food there, I just have to portion it on fast day.
    I found a long time ago that it was the fizz that I wanted in soda but club soda had sodium. I found a sparkling water that has flavor but no sweetener or sodium. Works in baked goods too. My hubby doesn’t know I sub soda for eggs and shortening. That makes calorie counting easier.
    Thanks for the program.

    I am embarking on my third month of the diet and it may sound weird to some but I didn’t want to weigh myself first as I didn’t want to get depressed if I didn’t lose any weight. I am size 12 but inching towards a 14 which is a situation I needed to change. I haven’t dieted since I was 16 and always used exercise to control weight. However as a working mother of two children I was getting really low as I could never fit enough exercise hours into my schedule. I have to say the first three weeks were hard and my sleep patterns suffered. However I persevered and really see myself continuing this way of eating forever. I just bought size 10 jeans for the first time in ages and people are starting to comment on my weight loss which is fantastic. I stick to a really boring meal plan and M&S are my NBF! I have no breakfast as I find it makes me hungrier, just black tea, coffee, sparkling water or a Diet Coke. For lunch it’s M&S salmon and potato salad at 240 calories and then dinner is a piece of salmon baked in foil with 1/2 bag of mixed veg with some fresh chilli, ginger, lemon juice and a splash of soy sauce. This works for me as I feel organised knowing I have all the ingredients in the fridge for the week. Hope this helps habit freaks like me, as I think if dieting sounds like loads of hassle it would definitely put me off. I love reading all the tips so please keep them coming.

    Myself and my wife were on the Sky TV channel Shop America which promoted the Atkins diet (before the fast diet). Although I do not recommend this any more as a long term solution (mainly because influence on higher IGF1 and protein long term conversion), I would like to say that we have lost a lot of lbs on the fast diet – about 22lbs (10kg in euro blurb) in one month and about 4 stone over 6 months. I just want people to be healthy and I think anythying that gets the weight off to start with in the short term is ok. The fast diet is a great way to go on for life to keep the weight off – VERY important. I am thinking about putting all my experience into self help publication so many can know what I have found out over the last ten years. If you have any stories relevant to Atkins and Fat Diet etc. please let me know at

    Loopylou – completely agree that developing good habits is one of the keys to success on the Fast Diet. Knowing what you’re going to eat on a Fast Day really helps – rather than rooting about in the fridge looking for inspiration. The low-cal ready meals M&S are brilliant, and Cook has brought out a range of frozen meals that tick all the Fast Day boxes – things like Chickpea tagine (223 cals) or ‘Thai Chicken patties in aromatic broth’ (320 cals). The Fast Diet Recipe Book is out soon too – I have seen the first copies off the press and I’m thrilled. Alongside all the fresh meals and ideas, the book also includes lots of easy meals that can be made in bulk and frozen in Fast Day portions.

    I plan on starting this diet tomorrow. On beverages — what about adding the fruit flavored drops (Mio, Crystal light etc. to water) They are “0” calories. ???

    Can you eat fruit on your fast day? Does it count on the calorie intake. What fruit don’t count on calories?

    Hi yearbytj – on the whole, eat vegetables over fruit on a Fast Day. They provide bulk and nutrients without the added sugars (fructose) present in fruit. Avoid juiced fruit in particular – a whole fruit is always preferable as you’re getting the benefit of plenty of fibre and not concentrating the sugars. If you do want fruit on Fast Day, some are better than others. Strawberries are great, plus blueberries and other berries. Cherries too. Tangerines are fine, and apples bring all kinds of goodness to a day (pectin is a Fast Day friend). But avoid sugary fruits – some of the tropical ones like mango should be saved for days when you’re not fasting. There’s lots on this in the Recipe Book, which comes out in the next couple of weeks in the UK.

    Please do not use diet drinks or anything containing aspartame. Would suggest you look at this link

    It’s quite frightening!

    I don’t think diet soda is at all healthful. It “feeds” sugar cravings and has corrosive chemicals. I’ve switched to coffee, iced green tea and flavored [no sweeteners, just essence] sparkling water… tap water too, of course. I use some stevia natural no calorie sweetener on occasion. Truvia is a brand name for stevia… someone asked earlier in this thread. It seems less bitter than some other forms of stevia.

    Can you chew sugarfree gum on the diet?

    Hi, Helenmg – If you do what I just did, i.e. search the www for ‘sugar-free gum’, you’ll get all manner of information about the pluses and minuses of using sugar-free gum, including dental authorities’ statements that ‘Yes, it’s good for dental hygiene’ and ‘No, it’s very bad for your teeth’. One article refers to the laxative effects of the sweetener ‘sorbitol’ and warns against excessive intake:

    Other concerns seem to centre on the possible effects of the sweetener ‘aspartame’ – and there are various sites offering gum which is free of aspartame.

    MyFitnessPal seems to give lots of info about the calorific content of different brands.

    As with most health/medical issues, there seems to be a lot of vested interests and conflicting information ‘out there’. I don’t have any opinion on the subject but would suggest you do your own research and then decide your preferred options. With best wishes to you.

    Hi There … My first post: Michael? … I just saw the documentary 4 weeks ago on OPB (PBS in Oregon), and I was immediately drawn to this approach.

    I am quite overweight, and because I rarely let a moment go by without some food stuffing my stomach or my mouth – I dont think my system has been out of ‘fat storage’ mode in years. What I love about this is knowing that my system will FINALLY turn that storage switch OFF, at least for a few hours. I look forward to starting this process in earnest .. to save my own life.

    I think it is important to note: Human bodies experience daily weight differences of a few pounds, even without being on any diet. It would be a mistake to look at your weight on a daily basis and become discouraged when the weight doesn’t drop as quickly as you might wish …. Look for change over the long haul, not a daily measurement. In fact; DON’T obsess over daily weight measurements at all – Take weekly measurements instead.

    It took years to gain all that weight, and so it will take some time for it to disappear, gradually. Give it proper time, like any other diet.

    THANKS to Michael and Mimi for providing this excellent website, and thanks as well for this workable plan to change our lives …

    I have been doing the Fast diet since January but although I appreciate there are many benefits besides weight loss I am disappointed that I have lost so little weight in comparison to what other people are reporting. In just over 3 months I have only dropped 6 pounds and in the last 6 weeks I have not lost any weight. I drop a pound the day after I fast but then go back up a pound when I eat normally. I follow the diet as advised with porridge first thing and then nothing until around 8pm that night. I prepare a meal following your recipes and weigh everything so not cheating there and drink water all day. I am so disappointed as everyone else seems to be losing weight.
    I know everyone says don’t obsess over daily weight but I have been doing the diet for over 3 months and the weight loss has been very minimal.
    Any ideas?
    On a positive note I have found the diet easy to follow and relatively pain free although I have very little energy on my fast days. I have also noticed my migraines have almost totally stopped. For that reason alone I will continue with the diet.

    I’ve only been on the diet for one week but I’ve stuck to it religiously. No weight loss yet. I fast to 500 calories for the two days and keep the other days to between 1200 and 1300 calories. I thought I’d see an immediate loss as I no longer have bread, milk, cheese or crisps – I used to have most of these daily. I also have dramatically reduced my alcohol intake. I’m almost fity and perimenopausal so I’m hoping loss will kick in soon! Any ideas?

    Hi just finished my first week and lost 2kilo’s but put 1 back on after the feast days. I thouht I didnt have to count calories on feast days?

    Personally I avoid sugar replacements. This started for me as I am what I have been told is a ‘super-taster’ and they all left an unacceptable aftertaste. I did try stevia a couple of years ago and and found it foul.
    I have also done a lot of online research as a result of being gluten intolerant and found that in many cases, for overweight folk like myself with probable metabolic resistance, artificial sweeteners can have exactly the same effect on the body’s insulin mechanism as the real thing. So I weaned myself off them and avoid. I do treat myself to 1/3 tsp honey in my last cuppa (decaff) at night.
    I drink a lot of herbal infusions – I make my own – and do often flavour them with a little lemon and use rosehips and linden flower leaves for sweetness.
    If you are serious about losing weight try and wean yourself off diet drinks – I love plain sparking mineral water and get through at least 1 x 1.25 litre bottles per day.

    Odille – 179cm – start 01062013-115kg – current 112.4 – aim 65-70.

    Hi suzieq, and all:

    Aspartame makes me feel physically sick. I HATE – absolutely LOATHE – the flavour of ‘diet’ drinks, and can taste one even if it’s used as a mixer with another drink. They’re foul.
    Going without sugar in drinks may be a challenge for some initially, but now, I very,very rarely drink any fizzy commercial sweet or sweetened drinks (diet or otherwise) and am happy with sparkling water and maybe a touch of lemon/lime juice, or perhaps a tiny touch of wine, more for flavour than the alcohol!
    Tea or coffee as hot drinks is fine by me. Coffee is preferable without milk,and for me, tea with a little lemon juice is fine, although I also like it with a drop of SS milk….

    4 subjects in a room
    1 researcher
    3 of the subjects are actors playing the part of taste testers
    the final subject actually thinks they are a taste tester

    The researcher/actor and all 3 actors know exactly what their role is.

    The researcher gives the first actor a small plastic cup of water and ask, “Do you think this is strawberry falvour?”

    The Actor takes a sip and in oscar winning style “yeah… mmmmm really nice.. I like that”

    Same with the other 2 actors

    subject 4 takes cup and is asked the same quesiton… they take a sip and start nodding slightly then, “yeah, that’s perfect strawberry flavour. Nice.”

    The cup was plain water but the the subject believed so much that they were drinking apparently, by the ‘evidence’ of how the other taste testers acted, strawberry flavoured water.

    Now they could be faking it and know it’s water but some people will experience the strawberry flavour. It will seem totally real to them. Placebo affect, highly suggestible, gullible. I’d call it a skill. If I could make water taste like Pepsi…. wait….

    Where did that subject 4 go? I need to know how they did it!

    Everyone has had that experience where they thought they knew something 100% but it turned out they were wrong. We can all fool ourselves.

    And I’m out of here, I’m got some time to distort.

    I’d love to know precisely what your point in posting that lot, was….

    Could you please provide a reference/link to the above experiment?


    “Now they could be faking it and know it’s water but some people will experience the strawberry flavour. It will seem totally real to them. Placebo affect, highly suggestible, gullible. I’d call it a skill. If I could make water taste like Pepsi…. wait….”

    “Everyone has had that experience where they thought they knew something 100% but it turned out they were wrong. We can all fool ourselves.”

    Yes, the powerful power of suggestion.

    I don’t think it’s fooling ourselves as much as creative visualization.

    We each can control more of ourselves than what we think or know.

    So what’s a great visualization that you know?

    You sound like my life twin!! I have two children, work full time, can’t fit exercise in (although I’d like to be able to) and since having my second child can’t get back into my size 12 jeans! I’m hopeful, after reading your post, that I could get back to being a size 10. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Loopylou, You sound like my life twin!! I have two children, work full time, can’t fit exercise in (although I’d like to be able to) and since having my second child can’t get back into my size 12 jeans! I’m hopeful, after reading your post, that I could get back to being a size 10. Thanks for the inspiration!

    These answers are quiet helpful for my research. Thanks a bunch! Visit our site

    I love necrobump spam!

    (referring to the energy drink spam above this post)

    Regarding diet sodas like diet coke, coke no sugar (my new favourite) and pepsi max (my previous favourite):

    I absolutely love these. But I need to avoid them for the simple reason that they make unable to resist the things I shouldn’t eat, like chips (crisps) and chocolate.

    I regularly go cold turkey off these drinks, then slip up, then go cold turkey again. My consumption quickly ramps up to more than 2 litres a day within a couple of weeks of letting these slip back into my diet.

    If you can drink these without them derailing your weight loss efforts, then I can’t see a problem with that. Just be aware that in some people they stimulate appetite and cravings, and if you are having trouble sticking to a diet then this might be one of the triggers for causing you to fall back into bad eating habits.

    How about Sugar Free Gum and mints? Really keen on a reply on this!

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