Is Diet Soda Bad For Weight Loss? The Truth You May Not Know 2024


Reviewed by Jocelyn Chen, BME
is diet soda bad for weight loss
The artificial sugar in diet soda negatively affects weight loss. Photo: aedka/freepik

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Diet soda has long been a go-to choice for those looking for a low-calorie alternative to regular soda. Most of these sodas are marketed to have zero or few calories, but that doesn’t make them suitable for weight loss.

Diet soda contains artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose, and stevia, which can increase the risk of weight gain[1] and trigger health concerns. One study found that drinking diet soda is linked to metabolic syndrome.[2] 

This is a condition that presents several health issues at the same time, one of them being extra belly fat. So, is diet soda bad for weight loss? Let’s find out below.

Does Diet Soda Make You Gain Weight?

Yes, diet soda is bad for weight loss. Despite being low in calories, artificial sweeteners in diet sodas can increase cravings and slow metabolism, which can lead to weight gain. Studies link diet soda consumption to metabolic issues and disruptions in gut health, which also hinder weight loss efforts. Choosing healthier alternatives such as water, herbal teas, and infused water supports weight loss goals more effectively.

Is Diet Soda Bad For Weight Loss?

does diet soda make you fat
Diet Coke contains high amounts of artificial sweeteners. Photo: EyeEm/freepik

Rising to fame decades ago, diet Coke is just as popular as fat burners and weight loss pills. But is Diet Coke good for weight loss? Contrary to what Coke companies advertise, research suggests that artificially sweetened beverages like diet soda don’t support weight loss.[3] 

One study found that drinking diet soda resulted in a greater increase in waist circumference and abdominal obesity[4] compared to non-soda drinkers. In another study, an increase in diet soda consumption led to gaining more belly fat,[4] especially in older people. 

This could lead to more health risks, like heart and metabolic problems.[5] Heart and metabolic problems can create obstacles to weight loss by affecting various bodily functions. They negatively impact your metabolism,[6] slowing down the pace at which your body burns calories. 

This makes it harder to lose weight because fewer calories are used for energy. It also reduces energy levels,[7] making it challenging to engage in workouts and exercise

Certain heart conditions can lead to fluid retention.[8] 

The excess fluid accumulates in the body’s tissues, causing swelling and weight gain. Medications commonly prescribed for heart and metabolic issues[9] might have side effects that cause weight gain or make it harder to lose weight.

Metabolic problems also affect hormones that influence appetite,[10] fat storage,[11] and energy expenditure.[12] These imbalances can hinder weight loss efforts and also your ability to follow a healthy diet.

How Diet Soda Affects Your Weight

How Diet Soda Affects Your Weight
Diet soda can increase sugar cravings, causing unhealthy food choices. Photo: badnews86dups/freepik

Research shows that artificial sweeteners in diet soda can trick the brain[13] into believing you have less sugar in your system. This increases sugar cravings and leads to nutrient-poor choices[14] like high-calorie foods, which increase your overall calorie intake, causing an anti-weight loss loop. 

Drinking diet soft drinks can encourage compensatory eating as well. Another fallacy that diet sodas create is that you may think that you can consume more calories, eat more, or opt for unhealthy foods as a result. This can, in turn, lead to weight gain, not weight loss.

What Do Studies Say About Diet Soda And Weight Gain?

A combination study that involved both animals and humans found the consumption of regular or diet sodas led to weight gain.[15] Rats who drank gaseous beverages for a year gained weight at a faster pace than those who consumed degassed beverages or tap water. 

This is due to elevated levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin,[16] which encouraged the rats to eat extra calories, leading to weight gain. The rats who drank diet or regular soda also had higher amounts of fat stored in their liver.

This fat buildup can set the stage for metabolic issues like diabetes,[17] which further hinder weight loss. An increase in ghrelin levels was also seen in the human participants drinking carbonated beverages,[15] like diet soda. 

Here, too, a trend of increasing numbers on the scale and waistlines was seen. The consensus across both groups was that regular or diet soda can promote the release of ghrelin. This triggers hunger and unhealthy or sugar cravings that lead to weight gain. 

These results effectively answer the question, does diet soda make you fat?

Risks Of Drinking Diet Soda

Is Diet Coke bad for you and your health? Science says yes. There is more than one health risk linked to drinking diet soda, these include:

How To Stop Drinking Diet Soda?

Start by acknowledging your habit and setting a clear goal. Instead of quitting cold turkey, consider gradually reducing the amount of diet soda you consume. This can help your body adjust to the change more easily.

Identify the situations or emotions that prompt you to reach for diet soda. Finding alternative coping mechanisms, activities, or substitutes can help break the habit. When you feel like you falling back into the habit, keep in mind the health risks associated with drinking diet soda.[26] 

You can enlist the help of friends, family, or even a health professional. This will help you stay on track. Also, remember to celebrate small victories. Stay mindful of your progress and be patient with yourself. 

Over time, your reduced intake will turn into completely quitting diet soda which will better support health and fitness goals.   

What To Drink Instead?

If you’re still questioning if diet soda is good for weight loss, the answer is no. So, eliminating the drink from your diet can positively impact weight loss goals. You can swap out diet soda for more healthy and beneficial alternatives, such as:

  • Regular or sparkling water.
  • Herbal and unsweetened tea. 
  • Natural unsweetened beverages.
  • Infused water with added fruit slices.

If you want to accelerate your weight loss, you can opt for weight-loss drinks like vegetable juices, protein shakes, and more. These can be paired with compatible diet pills as well for better results.


That diet sodas are a low-calorie drink that supports weight loss has been challenged by scientific research. The artificial sweeteners present in these drinks contribute to increased waist circumference, and belly fat poses risks of metabolic syndrome. 

Drinking diet soda has also been linked to more sugar cravings. This can negatively affect weight loss efforts and increase the risk of health issues. So, removing them from your diet is a good idea, especially if you’re looking to shed those excess pounds. 

A gradual transition to quitting is recommended. You can substitute with hydrating options like water, herbal teas, natural beverages, or even weight loss drinks that can be mutually beneficial to your health and waistline.

You could also get support from a dietitian or medical professional. They can help you make more conscious diet and lifestyle choices that promote sustained well-being and successful weight loss/management.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is diet Coke better than regular Coke?

The choice between diet and regular Coke depends on preference and health goals. Diet Coke is low in calories but contains artificial sweeteners, which may impact weight loss. Regular Coke is high in calories and sugar, also affecting weight loss.

Does diet soda cause belly fat?

Yes, it can. Studies show that those who drink diet soda regularly experience a greater increase in waist size[4] compared to those who don’t drink it. This suggests a possible link between diet soda intake, belly fat, and abdominal obesity.

Is diet soda 0 calories?

Yes, it is. In regular sodas, real sugar is a major contributor to calorie counts. Diet sodas are considered zero calories because they use artificial sweeteners instead of real sugar, which gives little energy to the body alongside other components of diet soda. 

+ 26 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Trisha Govender is an accomplished health writer with nearly a decade of specialized experience in the medical field. Her extensive writing background is complemented by Diplomas in Journalism, Human Nutrition, and Effective Writing, which equip her… See More