Eating for diabetes is a juggling act. There’s a lot of restrictions and guidelines! You might also have to give up some of your favorite foods and drinks.
If you love fizzy drinks, you might be wondering what kind of soda diabetics can drink. Often, experts suggest diet soda.1 But is it really that safe?
In moderation, diet soda is OK for diabetes. It isn’t the worst, but it isn’t the best either. Water and unsweetened tea are much better options.2 Before drinking diet soda, learn about how it affects diabetes.
1. Little To No Calories
Weight control is important for everyone. But when you have diabetes, it’s even more crucial. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for complications. The added weight also makes it harder for the body to use insulin.3
Diet soda is good for diabetics because it has little to no calories. It’s all thanks to artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and neotame.4 When used in diet soda, they replace added sugars, resulting in a low-calorie drink.5 This reduction in calories can contribute to weight loss. Of course, eating well and exercising are still important. Diet soda is just one step.
If you love sugary drinks, try diet soda. It’s a great way to wean yourself off. And while it’s not the answer to weight loss, it can certainly help the cause.6
2. Glucose Management
It’s vital to keep tabs on your blood glucose. After all, it defines diabetes. Controlling your blood glucose should be the main focus of your diet.
A diabetic can drink diet soda because it doesn’t change glycemic response. In other words, it doesn’t raise blood glucose after a meal. These benefits are even true in people with diabetes.7
For example, a 2013 study in Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutrición looked at how different types of soda affected adults with type-2 diabetes. Two groups were asked to fast for 8 hours. Next, one group was given diet soda with aspartame and acesulfame, while the other drank regular diet soda with added sugars. Blood glucose was measured at 10, 15, and 30 minutes.
Researchers found that the diet soda didn’t change glucose levels. According to these findings, diet soda can help diabetics safely manage blood glucose.8
Again, replacing added sugars with artificial sweeteners makes a big difference. These sweeteners are also much sweeter than real sugar, meaning that less is used in a drink.9 The best part? It’ll still satisfy your sweet tooth.
1. Increased Energy Intake
The low-calorie content of diet soda is a good thing. Unfortunately, it can also be a problem.
Sweeteners make your body crave more food. It’s just the way your brain responds. And since artificial sweeteners are sweeter than real sugar, your cravings are likely to grow. This can lead to eating and drinking more calories.10
The journal Diabetes Care acknowledges this relationship. Compared to drinks without artificial sweeteners, drinks with artificial sweeteners are linked to energy compensation. More calories are consumed to make up for the low-calorie intake.11
Another issue is the specific food that’s eaten with soda. Fruits and veggies aren’t the most common partners. However, there’s no doubt that sugary and salty snacks pair well with soda.
According to the National Institutes of Health, obese adults who drink diet soda eat 131 calories in salty snacks and 243 calories in sweet snacks each day. As for obese adults who drink normal soda? They eat 107 and 213 calories of sweet and salty snacks, respectively.12
Keep in mind that diet soda might have calories from other ingredients. Play it safe by always checking the label.13
2. Metabolic Syndrome Risk
When diet soda leads to high energy intake, metabolic syndrome is more likely. This cluster of risk factors heightens your chances of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome includes five factors: a large waistline, high fasting blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol. In order to officially have metabolic syndrome, you need three of the five.
But if diabetes is already present, it’s an even bigger problem. Metabolic syndrome will intensify. It’ll make glucose control even harder, while boosting the threat of complications.
This all comes down to the way diet soda induces over-consumption. It increases the desire for energy-dense foods, especially, if they’re sweetened with sugar. People are also more likely to estimate energy intakes incorrectly.
Diabetics can have a diet soda. But it needs to be a part of a healthy, well-rounded diet. Everything that you eat still matters! If you love the carbonation, reach for seltzer water. Look for ones without added or artificial sugars. It’ll satisfy your craving without the extra additives and coloring.
|↑1||What Can I Drink? American Diabetes Association.|
|↑2||What Can I Drink? American Diabetes Association.|
|↑3||Weight Control and Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control.|
|↑4, ↑6, ↑9, ↑10||Artificial Sweeteners. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.|
|↑5, ↑7, ↑11, ↑13||Gardner, Christopher, Judith Wylie-Rosett, Samuel S. Gidding, Lyn M. Steffen, Rachel K. Johnson, Diane Reader, and Alice H. Lichtenstein. “Nonnutritive sweeteners: current use and health perspectives.” Circulation 126, no. 4 (2012): 509-519.|
|↑8||Olalde-Mendoza, L., and Y. E. Moreno-Gonzalez. “Modification of fasting blood glucose in adults with diabetes mellitus type 2 after regular soda and diet soda intake in the State of Queretaro, Mexico.” Archivos latinoamericanos de nutricion 63, no. 2 (2013): 142-147.|
|↑12||Diet Beverages and Weight. National Institutes of Health.|