When you think of nutrition and eating healthy, most likely you are more concerned about the food you eat than the beverages you drink. You may think having a diet drink could not do any harm at lunch or dinner, but if you indulge too much it could add up to trouble in the long run.
But it's a diet drink...
Perhaps you have seen on television or film a sketch where a person orders a fattening, fast food meal with a diet soda to even everything out. A diet soda has zero calories compared to as many as 300 per serving of regular soda, so you are actually doing yourself a good service, right?
Not exactly. Regular sodas are highly caloric because they contain sugar, whereas diet sodas are manufactured with artificial sweeteners - one of the most popular being aspartame. The validity of aspartame as a health risk has been debated for many years - some claim the sweetener may contribute to increasing toxicity levels and risk of various illnesses, while other dismiss such charges.
What we do know for certain is that aspartame contains phenylalanine, an essential amino acid that does occur naturally in certain dairy foods and green vegetables. On the other hand, one byproduct of aspertame is formaldehyde!
When you shop for "diet" foods it is always a good idea to check for this ingredient on the labels so you know exactly what you are eating and how much.
Too much caffeine?
Just because a diet soda is free of calories, doesn't mean it is devoid of other questionable ingredients. For example, not all calorie-free, sugar-free sodas are caffeine free, check the labels! Did you know, for example, that there is more caffeine in one can of Diet Coke than in regular Coca-Cola? There are almost 46 milligrams of caffeine in this diet soda, and while it's not as much as coffee (which can top 200 milligrams), the tendancy to want to drink more diet soda can contribute to a caffeine overload. You will have energy yes, but will be driven on empty calories and sweeteners instead of something nutritious. You may lose sleep, and suffer incredible headaches through caffeine withdrawal. Caffeine is highly addictive as well, and could lead you on a cycle that is difficult to break without some good will power.
Water, the best "diet" drink
A good percentage of our bodies are water, so it would make sense to constantly replenish your body with the very same substance. Imagine, if you replaced a glass a water for every soda you drink, think of all the calories you save, the less toxins in your body, and the greater improvement to your health. It's the best diet drink there is.
Eight glasses a day...no doubt you've heard it from everybody - your parents, your doctor, talk show professionals. The road to wellness is actually a river of pure, clean water, and while to drink sixty-four ounces daily seems like an impossible task, it is actually one of the simplest steps you can take to starting a sound weight loss program. After all, our bodies are approximately sixty percent water, so it is only natural that we constantly replenish ourselves in order to feel good.
Kathryn Lively writes for Compuslim, custom fit weight loss for everyone.