Skip That Diet Soda if You Want to Lose Weight

soda pop cans

soda pop cans

by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell

I have had many patients over the years give up their regular soda and switch to diet soda in an effort to lose weight. To their dismay, their weight either stayed the same or increased. Thirty years ago, I was just as mystified as they were by what seemed like an unexplainable phenomenon.

How could one switch from a high-calorie drink to one with zero calories and still pack on the pounds? It made no sense at the time.

Today, science has a much better understanding of how diet drinks sabotage not only your weight-loss efforts, but your overall health. Now I pass this critical information on to my patients. When I do, they not only experience weight loss, they also find that unusual symptoms they’d been experiencing for years often begin to disappear.

Diet soda is one of the worst drinks on the market and giving it up is the best decision you can make for your health.

Diet Soda Packs on the Pounds and Leads to Diabetes

Counting calories is an ineffective weight loss method because it doesn’t take nutritional content into consideration. The calories in regular soda are “empty.” They are devoid of nutritional value so your body cannot make healthy use of them. And all that high fructose corn syrup can have detrimental effects on your health.

digestive_distressDiet soda is no better. Though you’re not consuming any actual calories, you are drinking a synthetic sweetener called aspartame. According to a study published on appetite, rats fed yogurt containing aspartame or saccharin gained more weight than rats fed yogurt sweetened with sugar, even though they consumed the same amount of calories.

The aspartame in diet soda causes a spike in both insulin and leptin levels. Insulin is a hormone that regulates your metabolism and the amount of glucose in your blood. Leptin is a protein hormone that tells your body when you’re hungry, when you’re full, and how much fat to store.

Just drinking one can of diet soda drastically affects the way these hormones work in your system. Continued intake of diet soda eventually leads to chronic resistance of both of these hormones. This throws your entire metabolic process off, leading to increased fat storage and high blood sugar levels that could develop into type II diabetes.

Another way diet soda causes you to gain weight instead of losing it is through dehydration. Diet soda is a diuretic, which means it increases frequency of urination. The caffeine content also dries your mouth and throat, causing you to crave more liquids…..probably in the form of diet soda. This is one of the sneaky ways soft drink manufacturing companies keep you coming back for more.

Alarming Side Effects Associated with Aspartame

pop canAspartame doesn’t just lead to weight gain; it also has some very alarming side effects associated with it. Over the years many of my patients have come to me complaining of chronic dizzy spells, headaches, anxiety attacks, depression, and more. Upon questioning, I discovered that many of them were regular consumers of products containing aspartame. Eliminating aspartame from their diet resolved many of these symptoms within days or weeks.

Before I made the connection, I was quite mystified.  I would do complete exams and lab testing to rule out medical conditions, but couldn’t find the source of the problem.  Although I suspected aspartame as the culprit early on, it wasn’t until research results began to surface about the incredible amount of side effects from this sweetener that things began to make sense. I realized that through the process of diet elimination I had come to the same conclusion as early as 1983.

Aspartame has an incredible 92 different symptoms associated with it.

I’ve broken the most common of these reported symptoms down based on the system they affect:


Aspartame appears to have a profoundly negative effect on the nervous system. It has been shown to cause seizures, headaches, hyperactivity, restless legs, dizziness, numbness in extremities, tinnitus, noise intolerance, facial pain, and slurred speech. These effects occur because aspartame is a potent neurotoxin that destroys healthy brain cells over time.


Oftentimes, patients would present with anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings, and even personality changes that couldn’t be explained. Once they stopped drinking the diet soda, their moods often slowly and steadily returned to normal after a period of weeks. Aspartame has also been linked to phobias, suicide attempts, and even homicidal thoughts and actions!


Consumption of diet soda has been linked to nausea, diarrhea, blood in the stool, chronic abdominal pain, and pain with swallowing.


Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and sudden blood pressure spikes has been associated with increased aspartame consumption.

Endocrine and Metabolic

Diabetes, PMS, thinning hair, sudden weight loss or gain, and hypoglycemia can also be caused by aspartame.

Your Natural Soda Alternatives for Healthy Weight Loss

womandrinkikngwaterIn order to lose weight the healthy way, I believe most adults need 6-8 glasses of pure, filtered water each day. If you’re not a big fan of plain water, try adding an organic lemon wedge or a splash of organic fruit juice.

Alternatively, you can drink unsweetened herbal tea. Choose an organic tea variety that has strong flavor. Steep the bags for several hours and add the tea to a glass or BPA-free plastic bottle. Add a little bit of honey or raw sugar for a bit of added sweetness.

If you’re in the mood for a soda as a once-in-the-while treat, try selecting an organic brand. Most organic sodas are sweetened with natural sugar, Stevia or fruit juice.

Soda manufacturing companies would like you to believe that diet soda can help you lose weight but it can’t. It’s a terrible synthetic product that can do serious damage to your health.

I recommend slowly tapering off of soda by drinking one less can each day and replacing it with a natural alternative. Doing it like this instead of quitting cold turkey can help you avoid the caffeine and aspartame withdrawal that can make giving up soda so difficult.

When it comes to losing weight the healthy way, there are no quick fixes but there are plenty of scams out there to avoid. Diet soda is a big one. So is diet food. It’s just as bad for you and won’t help you get the results you’re looking for.  Today aspartame is in literally thousands of products, so you will want to read labels closely.

Instead, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet of organic vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, fish, and healthy fats like coconut oil and butter. Not only will you shed pounds, you may find yourself feeling better than you have in years.



  1. When I gave up diet soda, I lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks without even trying! Don’t tell me aspartame isn’t as bad for you as HFCS. It is and I’ve got the waistline to prove it! (Well, less of one now). LOL!

    • Hello Brianne,

      That’s a good question. I think the organic sodas on the market made from raw cane sugar or Stevia are OK to consume in moderation.

      Warmest Regards,

      Dr. Maxwell

  2. my father always told me that diet soda is bad for my health and it will make me gain weight, I tried for more than five years to give it up but I couldn’t, for the last years I kept gaining weight , now thanks god I made my choice and decided to quit all soda types , I’m happy because it made physically and mentally better, I”m loosing weight 🙂

  3. I’ve been drinking Diet Coke since it came out in the early 80’s. It was Tab prior to that. It’s a rare event that I don’t have one in hand/on my desk/ in my car drink holder. I can go through a 12 pack of cans in a day or two. My daughter did a research paper on the negative effects of Diet Coke, and shared what she found with me. I already had heard how bad it is. So I’m quitting!! I’m glad to see a board certified medical doctor taking time to discuss this. That reinforces the message. Thank you.

    • Hello Kris,
      Thank you for the kind words.
      I am so glad to hear you are giving up Diet Coke!
      What encouragement to have from your daughter.
      Dr. Maxwell

  4. I had been drinking diet sodas almost every day for several years, and two days ago I decided to stop drinking them and see how I feel. To my dismay, I actually feel more bloated and have gained about 3 pounds! Why is my body reacting this way to stopping diet soda? Is this temporary? I haven’t changed my diet the last two days besides quitting diet sodas. I’m a bit confused. Thanks for your help!

    • Hello Ryan,
      Thank you for contacting me. Congratulations on giving up diet sodas!
      In my experience with patients, any side effects from giving up diet soda should resolve in a few days.
      Dr. Maxwell

      • Hi!! I had another question about the side effects of quitting my regular diet soda habit. Can constipation also be an issue the first few days after giving up diet soda? I noticed that my bowel movements have been quite a bit more difficult and infrequent (along with the slight bloating and weight gain). I know that I was consuming a lot of caffeine from the diet soda on a daily basis, and caffeine is a stimulant, so I wonder if cutting out all that caffeine has caused my body to temporarily experience constipation, despite eating a solid amount of fiber? Anyways, thanks for your help!

        • Hello Ryan,
          That can be a side effect. Make sure it clears up in 3-4 days. If not, please be sure to see your doctor.
          Dr. Maxwell

  5. I never would have believed it. I’ve always been pretty fit and strong, but in the last 5 years have gained weight and have been unable to shake it. I had a few scares with some pre diabetes symptoms so I decided to cut down on carbs and sugar. I had been drinking anywhere from 20z to 40 oz of Diet Coke a day since the 90’s, graduating from the 12 oz cans to the bottles. I read your material recently, and decided to subsitute diet pop with iced black tea and lemon. Always liked tea, but just got out of the habit. I can tell you that was about 3 weeks ago. Today I am wearing a pair of jeans that I couldn’t fit into previously, and feeling more energetic. I have to believe that elimininating diet soda was the main reason. I thank you Dr. you’re spot on!.

  6. Awesome advice and good to know. I had a gastric aleve done and the only bad habit I haven’t been able to break is drinking diet sodas.

    • Hi Donny,

      Thank you for the kind words. It sounds as if you are doing well and will be able to stop the diet soda soon!

      Dr. Maxwell

  7. I gave up diet soda in the 1980s and lost ten pounds. I then got back into the nasty habit and a few years later was told to give up diet soda in the early 90s by my doctor. I did as he told me to and although tough at first, I then felt more energy than I had felt in years. And again I lost 10 lbs. Several years later, I became addicted again, gave it up and lost 7 lbs. Now I’m addicted again. I’m going to try hypnosis and break the habit for good this time. I’m getting too old to screw around with stuff like this.


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