The debate has raged for years: does drinking diet soda help or hinder your weight loss? Several research studies have produced conflicting results. Now, a study funded by the American Beverage Association shows that dieters who drank diet soda lost more weight than comparable dieters who drank water. Revolutionary results, or a keen understanding of how to fund future research?
Over 300 people volunteered to participate in research on the effectiveness of diet soda while dieting. The volunteers were randomly divided into two groups. One group drank at least three 8 ounce servings of diet soda every day. The other group drank the same volume of water instead. The water group was prohibited diet sodas and could not add artificial sweeteners to their food. In all other respects, their diet programs were identical.
The diet soda half of the research group lost an average of 13 pounds. The water half lost only 9 pounds. Ouch! Dieting for three months and the other group lost 44% more weight? Talk about the luck of the draw!
Losing 5% of your body weight is a key determinant for measuring effective diet programs. In this study, 64% of the diet soda drinkers hit this milestone while only 43% of the water drinkers made the mark. The diet soda group also won the comparison of serum cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol. They also enjoyed a measurable reduction in triglycerides, which is emerging as a key component of cardiac health.
On the softer side, the diet soda group reported that they felt less hungry, and probably less likely to ditch the diet. The artificial sweetener seemed to satisfy their "sweet tooth" and help keep them on the program. This contradicts previous research that found that drinking sweet beverages increased the yearning for other sweet foods, leading to weight gain.
So who can you believe? Obviously, the American Beverage Association is far from a neutral observer, but the study itself was well designed and overseen by scientists from the University of Colorado and Temple University.
I guess we can pick the answer we like best, until more research is done!