Is Diet Soda Bad For You?

Tony has challenged me to give up my diet soda. That’s a bigger challenge than it might first sound.

I’ve written before that I am constantly hungry and constantly thirsty. The latter is likely because of blood pressure pills I take which dehydrate me; really, that’s their job. I don’t know about the hunger, I assume that originates from stress.

To quell both urges, though, I consume a lot of liquid and the primary liquid I consume is diet soda. How much?

I normally start my day at a convenience store getting a 44-ounce caffeine-free diet Coke. If I lunch at Subway, I buy a 32-ounce diet Coke, this one with caffeine, and avail myself of the free refills twice before I leave, so that’s another 96 ounces [subtract some for the ice].

I try to drink only water at home in the evening but if I go out for dinner, it usually means more diet soda. On my Costco nights of shopping, for example, I’ll get a Costco frozen yogurt and a soda, which is I think either a 12-ounce or 18-ounce cup, and refill that at least twice as well.

So I’m drinking 140 ounces of diet soda a day minimum, often times more. I also drink a 44-ounce cup of water during my work hours, by the way, refilling my morning soda cup with water at least one a day, plus another 16 or so ounces of water at home in the evening, so my total liquid intake each day is roughly 200 ounces or about 25 eight-ounce glasses. Told you I’m always thirsty.

During my recent bout with a summer cold, I went two weekend days without any diet soda as a test, because Tony had mentioned diet soda as a possible barrier to weight loss to me just as my cold began. I have to admit it was a rough weekend, I felt the loss of diet soda plus I was even drier thanks to cold medicine I was taking.

This past week, I substituted water from home for my morning 44-ouncer of diet soda and had my usual second 44 ounces of water at work as well one day. Other days I tried to have less diet soda at Subway with lunch. It’s tough because I think of the diet soda as my substitute for all the treats I don’t eat any longer.

I’ve been writing about aspartame, the primary non-corn-syrup sweetener used in diet soda, since the late 1990s when I was editor of a beverage magazine. I know that every time the industry says its safe, another group comes out with a study that says it’s not. Tony sent me a recent piece on it along with the challenge. Biggest Loser trainer Jillian rants against diet soda regularly as well.

I’m never convinced scientists and medical professionals really know what they’re talking about; they’re all taking best guesses. Recently, for example, I came across a story saying that the conventional medical wisdom that we should drink eight glasses of water a day, really does nothing for our health. Another medical truth questioned, if not shot down.

That said, though, I am going to try to drastically cut back on my diet soda intake and see if it makes a difference in my weight or overall health. As I write this, it’s almost noon and I’ve had no diet soda today. I’ll report back on this effort in a few months, but in the mean time, let us know what you think on the subject of diet soda and health.

On August 12 Tony posted Is it Harmful to Drink Diet Soda Every Day?



Filed under body fat, fast food, life challenges, McDonald's

5 responses to “Is Diet Soda Bad For You?

  1. this is interesting because i have the same problem although i dont drink quite that much. I suggest trying mineral water too as i know part of the soda fix is the fizz. I stopped drinking diet soda for about 4 years only to get back on it after my pregnancy. So I recently cut back again and i am on my second week. I try to drink iced black tea and passion tea both unsweetened. It seems to help. I try to think about diet soda like this its okay to have a couple in a week but if one is drinking ALL the time how good can all those chemicals be for your body especially over a lifetime. I have been drinking diet since I was 11 i am now 41.


  2. Larry Mathias

    I’m with you ounce for ounce. Not only do I drink it for thirst, but sometimes when I have writer’s cramps and need a quick mental health moment to gain my thoughts, I find myself walking to the vendor machine and then buy another bottle of diet pop.


  3. I drink diet soda like it’s going outta style. I drink about the same amount as you and was struggling losing weight. Turned out that I was just overdoing the “cheat days” (or cheat weekends) and wiping out my efforts during the week. After I made those adjustments, I lose 22 pounds in 10 weeks.

    I get a little tired of everyone telling us how nothing is good enough to put in our bodies. If it’s not organic and straight from the earth, expect some blowhard to give you a hard time.

    If diet soda is keeping you from eating a dozen donuts, then it’s a good move. Maybe over time you taper the diet soda if you feel you need to, but I don’t think you’re doing any harm.


    • Dave thanks very much for your thoughtful comment and congrats on losing 22 pounds. How much were you when you started? Have you reached your target or are you still working on it?

      I have to tell you what I have told John about these diet drinks. I think they are harmful especially the quantities that you two are drinking. John says he is thirsty. I think it is possible that the diet sodas make him thirsty and that’s why he drinks so much.

      I hope the two of you are able to kick your habits and move on to consumption of something healthy instead. I am certain that six months later you will both feel significantly better and be enjoying better health.



  4. Pingback: My Diet Soda Challenge, a Progress Report | Two Regular Guys Talking about Food, Exercise and Men's Health

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s