There has been a lot of debate on whether or not diet drinks can help you lose weight. A recent study (PDF) published in the journal Obesity found those who drank diet drinks lost a larger amount of weight than those who drank water (Note: this study was conducted for the beverage industry and there have been some questions about the methodology. Even the researchers concede they don’t know why those who drank the diet soda lost more weight since the study’s design didn’t allow them to identify what caused the greater weight loss). On the flip side, there have been a number of studies that show people who drink diet soda have a greater chance at being obese than those who don’t, and even a higher chance of being overweight than those who drink regular sugary soda.
In many ways, I think that the debate is framed entirely in the wrong light, especially if the object is to not only healthily lose weight, but doing it while saving money. In the study, those who drank diet soda lost more weight, but it’s important to note that both groups lost weight. Over the 12-week period, one group lost about 14 lbs while the other lost 10 lbs. While the beverage industry would like to frame this as proof their products are better for losing weight, the fact is that both helped people lose weight, and one costs a lot less. There are many alternatives to soda which will help you lose weight, cost a lot less money, and are chemical free.
Water is an excellent alternative to diet soda that doesn’t cost a dime to consume (if taken from the tap). It can save hundreds of dollars over soda during the course of a year. Water alone probably won’t be able to replacement diet soda completely since it lacks the sweetness and carbonation that many people crave, but it can be a great substitute the majority of the time.
Naturally Flavored Water
For those who do crave a bit of sweetness in their drinks, a good alternative is naturally flavored water. Skip the flavored water in the store (they are often loaded with extra sugar), and make it yourself. All you need to do is slice up fruit and veggies (lemons, oranges, strawberries, cucumbers or whatever taste you like), add them to a pitcher of water and let them soak for a few hours. The juice from the fruits will combine with the water giving you a bit of sweetness while being a lot healthier for you.
The key with black coffee is that you don’t drink too much of it, and you refrain from adding anything to it like cream or sugar. It contains caffeine that will help those who drink diet soda for the pick-me-up, doesn’t have any fat and only contains a few calories. For those who want taste and aroma to their drink, it can be a good alternative plain water. When brewed at home, it is significantly well than buying cans of diet soda.
Unsweetened Iced Tea
Another wonderful alternative to diet soda that costs significantly less is unsweetened iced tea. While it won’t give the sweetness of a diet soda, it does give more taste than plain water. It’s an easy drink to make by brewing some tea, then filling a pitcher with ice and leaving it in the refrigerator. The few teabags you use will cost pennies rather than the dollars you would spend for the same amount of diet soda.
Green tea, much like iced tea, is another wonderful alternative. It has more caffeine that regular iced tea that can give a jolt to those who miss that aspect of the diet soda, but doesn’t have any calories. It also is a drink that can be consumed either hot or cold, depending on the season. Even better, it also contains a variety of antitoxins that make it a much healthier alternative. Green tea is usually a bit more expensive than regular black tea, but it still costs pennies compared to the cost of diet soda.
For those who like the bubbles and fizz that comes with sodas, a good alternative is seltzer water. Unflavored seltzer will have no calories, and flavored will usually have few calories. A great option is to do the same as with regular water and add some fruit to naturally bring in your flavor of choice to the drink. The cost of seltzer is usually less than diet soda, but you can save even more by purchasing a seltzer maker like soda stream if you drink a lot of it.
In the end, the question shouldn’t be whether or not diet soda is good for diets, but what are alternatives which are healthier and cost less while still helping you lose the weight you want to lose.
(Photo courtesy of globochem3x1minus1)