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Soda, Diet Soda, what's the big deal?

Nov 9, 2015

Coke, Cola, Soda, Pop, or whatever you may call it; according to the USDA, ~8% of Americans’ caloric intake comes from drinks with added sugars (mostly said products). There have been countless studies done on the relationship between soda products and obesity, diabetes, risk of stroke or heart attack, etc. The results from these studies vary, so nobody can definitively say soda products are the cause. But the executive director of the CSPI (Center of Science in the Public Interest) Michael Jacobson, PhD, has said that sugary soft drinks should be singled out in the battle against obesity because they are the biggest contributor of empty calories in the American diet.

“I only drink diet soda”, sound like you? Our bodies don’t differentiate sugar and no-calorie sweeteners, I.E. – aspartame; meaning it treats these sweeteners exactly the same as sugar. Diet soda drinkers believe zero calories and zero sugar equal “OK” in terms of diet. In fact, several studies have shown that people who drink diet sodas are more likely to choose sweeter-tasting foods (higher calorie) and are more likely to be overweight or obese. Marion Nestle, PhD, and professor of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University said “The first thing anyone should do if they are trying to lose weight is eliminate or cut down on soft drinks.” Trainers across the globe and here at FT-Cary specifically will agree with Dr. Nestle. We all know that we should stop drinking soft drinks but the main question is…. how do we? Here are some helpful tips to better equip you for your journey towards a soda-free lifestyle.

  1. Buy organic brands that do not contain high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, or artificial ingredients. Blue Sky, Grown Up Soda, or Santa Cruz Organics are more expensive, but a much healthier option especially when consumed less often. It’s better to not have any soda at all, but if you’re going to drink one it might as well be a healthier option.
  2. Since soda and the sweeteners in them can be addictive, it is recommended that you wean yourself off of them versus attempting to quit cold turkey. If you drink multiple sodas a day, cut back to one a day for two weeks then to 3 or 4 a week until you can eventually cut them out altogether.
  3. Try mixing half-soda, half-water glasses; this will cut back on the sweetness of the drink and once you’re drinking less sugar your taste buds will adjust.
  4. When drinking a can or glass of soda, determine what it would take to burn those calories. For example, it would take a 5-mile walk or 50 minutes of jogging to burn the calories from just a 20 ounce soda.
  5. Drinking more water will curb cravings for these sweet drinks, try seltzer water as a substitute if you’re still looking for that bubbly consistency. Also, experiment with different fruit and vegetable combinations in your seltzer or non-bubbly water. Everyone has heard 64 ounces (Eight 8-ounce glasses) of water per day is recommended but very few people (especially soda drinkers) achieve this. Adding a little natural flavor to your water can make this daily goal even easier to accomplish, which in turn will cut back on your soda consumption.

These products are not the sole contributor of obesity, diabetes, etc. However, cutting them out of your diet is an important step towards a healthier lifestyle. The five tips listed above can be very helpful if you are looking to improve your overall health. So any time you are craving that sweet, bubbly flavor of a soda remember these tips and ask yourself “Is it worth it?”

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