It’s easy to grab a soda for a quick thirst quencher or for a little caffeine boost. With so many labeled “diet” or “zero” calories, sodas can also be tempting additions to your daily diet. However, soda’s hidden secrets may make you think twice. Courtney Sullivan, our favorite nutritionist, answered our most pressing soda pop questions.
What should girls know about drinking sodas?
One can (12 ounces) of soda contains a whopping 33 grams of sugar and 136 empty calories. (“Empty” meaning there is no nutritional value or benefit to the beverage.) Think of it as 12 ounces of water with 8 teaspoons of sugar mixed in – basically sugar water. Excessive amounts of sugar consumed can crash your energy in the short term and put you at risk of weight gain and type 2 Diabetes in the long term. (YIKES)
Are diet sodas better for you than regular?
No. Diet soda has been linked to cancer, more studies are continuing to be done on this subject. Although the “diet soda” has no calories or sugar, they are still unhealthy due to the artificial component added and they are high in phosphorus, which leeches calcium from your bones and therefore makes them more brittle. This is harmful for teenage girls especially because up to 90% of peak bone mass occurs from 10-18 years of age. If you do not build up this mass then you will be at higher risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Can soda help you lose weight?
No. If anything, it may contribute to weight gain due to excessive amounts of sugar. If you drink diet soda, there is also a chance of weight gain because artificial sweeteners interfere with the body’s natural ability to judge calorie content. Your body will often crave something sweet (or high in refined carbohydrates) after drinking a diet soda. Both regular and diet soda have been linked to metabolic syndrome, a combination of symptoms linked to heart disease and diabetes.
Does it matter if sodas have real sugar or a substitute?
Real sugar will drastically affect your blood sugar levels and be harmful if you are pre-diabetic or currently have diabetes. Excessive amounts of sugar will be stored as fat in the body (if not utilized) and can also increase cholesterol. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame have been linked to causing cancer. Having a little bit of soda once in a while is okay, but it’s all about moderation and balance with nutrition and your lifestyle.
What are some healthier alternatives to soda?
Water, sparkling water, Fresca, 100% aloe vera juice with no sugar, Vitamin water, Propel, and G2 (low sugar Gatorade drink), herbal tea (decaf).