Are Diet Drinks Bad For You?

by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Published on May 13, 2024
soda cans and bottles in supermarket

Ever pondered swapping your usual fizzy drinks for diet ones to shed some pounds and step up your health game? How deep have you dived into making this switch, and how much do you actually understand about diet sodas? Are you fully convinced by the perks they offer? This piece shines a light on both the upsides and downsides of diet beverages. It lays it all out, giving you the full scoop. So, when you next grab a diet soda, you’ll know for certain it’s the best move for your health.

What are diet drinks?

Diet drinks, or diet sodas, first hit the market back in the 1950s. They were represented as drinks for people struggling with obesity, diabetes, etc. who were looking for a way to enjoy a delicious, refreshing drink without increasing their blood sugar levels to dangerous levels that might even put their lives in danger. Since then, diet drinks have been considered for rather controversial, as their existence is clearly doubted. And yet, millions of people all around the world are enjoying these supposedly healthy drinks, especially the ones that are trying to lose weight but are not ready to give up on drinking sodas.

Diet drinks contain either low sugar levels or contain none whatsoever, and they are very low in calories as well. Instead, they contain artificial sweeteners, such as cyclamate, sucralose, aspartame, etc. You are probably familiar or have even tried a diet drink so far, since most famous beverage brands have come up with their own diet drink recipe, including Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite Zero and many more.

What are the pros of drinking diet drinks?

Although controversial, we cannot deny the fact that diet drinks have some positive effects. You might think that the refreshing, delicious taste might be the main positive side of diet drinks and the main reason that you choose to buy and consume them, but we have some other pros that we want to talk to you about.

Diet drinks contain no added sugars

Apart from the delicious taste, this is the second biggest reason why people choose to enjoy a cold, diet drink. With the diet drinks, you get to enjoy the taste of your favorite drink while staying away from any added sugars in the meantime. By using artificial sweeteners, the manufacturers succeed at creating diet drinks that seem to be especially enjoyed by individuals with diabetes and obesity issues. Since the artificial sweeteners do not raise the blood sugar levels as the regular sodas do, they are not considered to be a risk for diabetics and obese individuals (1).

Diet drinks contain low calories

If you are trying to lose weight, switching from regular soda to a diet one is one of the first steps that you should consider doing. In fact, it has been suggested that switching from regular to diet soda can help you cut off approximately 150 calories, which will surely come as beneficial when you are trying to achieve the calorie deficit that will ultimately lead you to weight loss. That is because the artificial sweeteners are usually around 600 times sweeter than normal sugar, which means that smaller amounts of artificial sweeteners can be used in order for the sweet taste of the diet drinks to be achieved. With that, smaller amounts of calories are to be introduced in the body as well (2).

What are the cons of drinking diet drinks?

If you look closer, you will discover that diet drinks have more negative than positive effects. As it turns out, drinking diet drinks are just as dangerous as drinking regular drinks, as you will learn that both pose quite a huge threat to our health. Look into the many negative effects of drinking diet drinks and then decide whether or not you will continue drinking diet drinks like a regular part of your everyday life.

Diet drinks might cause weight gain

We know we mentioned earlier that diet drinks contain low amounts of calories, as well as that switching from regular soda to a diet one can help you lose weight, but you should also know that drinking diet drinks can easily lead to weight gain as well.

Switching to diet drinks causes only a short-term weight loss. When drank on a daily basis, long-term consummation is suggested to lead to weight gain and increase the risk of obesity. The fact that they contain little to no calories is not the problem, and the problem lays in the fact that the artificial sweeteners that are commonly used are suggested to increase the appetite, trigger hunger, and with that cause weight gain.

There are multiple scientific studies that have confirmed these findings, and because of that, they fail at approving the consummation of diet drinks (3, 4, 5).

Diet drinks increase the risk of depression

As if there are not enough causes that trigger the development of depression, consuming diet drinks on a daily level have been found to serve as one of the many. A scientific study has found that drinking diet drinks, but also coffee and tea, is increasing the risk of depression among adults in the United States. What the study discovered is that there are higher depression rates among individuals who consumed regular and diet sodas on a daily level, as compared with the ones that do not (6).

Diet drinks increase the risk of common acne breakouts

Are you annoyed by acne? Do you wonder what it is that causes those common acne breakouts? Would you consider that the answers to those questions are laying at the bottom of your diet soda can? Drinking regular and diet sodas have a dehydrating effect on your entire body and skin. By drying your skin, diet sodas will contribute to the common acne breakouts. If you already struggle with dry skin, these effects will be enhanced in your case (7).

Diet drinks are a source of empty calories

If you think about it, the little amounts of calories that are found in each diet soda can are only empty calories, meaning that no nutrients whatsoever are to be discovered in diet drinks. The diet sodas are only a mix of carbonated water, artificial sweeteners, colors, caffeine, flavors, additives, etc. without a trace of vitamins, minerals, proteins, healthy fats, or healthy sugars which is what your body needs to maintain health.

Diet drinks increase the risk of preterm delivery

If you enjoy drinking diet drinks, you might want to consider eliminating that habit of yours during your pregnancy. You probably have heard your doctor say the same time, and with a good reason, that is. During your pregnancy, you have to be very careful about what you are putting in your body, and nor diet sodas or regular ones should be one of those things.

In a study published in the American Journal of Nutrition, drinking diet drinks during pregnancy has been noticed to lead to multiple negative effects, with the biggest one being preterm delivery. Women who have been consuming diet drinks have been found to more likely deliver preterm as compared with the women who did not consume diet or regular sodas (8).

Diet drinks are linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease

Despite the fact that diet drinks contain little to no calories and sugars, they are still found to cause an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as a part of multiple scientific studies.

Diet sodas have been proven to increase the risk of developing diabetes type 2 among healthy individuals (9). In addition, they have also been found guilty of increasing the risk of high blood pressure, and with that, the risk of cardiovascular disease (10, 11, 12). We highly recommend giving up both regular and diet sodas, especially if you have a family history of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Diet drinks endanger your gut health

One of the ways that diet drinks are bringing you closer to diabetes type 2 is by altering your gut health and gut microbiome, which leads to altering your blood sugar levels control. Apparently, diet drinks, due to the use of artificial sweeteners, are able to disrupt the gut microbiome by altering the function and type of gut bacteria (13). This can very easily increase your risk of diabetes type 2 among other health issues.

Diet drinks damage your kidneys

The function of your kidneys should definitely not be underestimated, thinking about how they are responsible for filtering and getting rid of all of the toxins from your body. Unfortunately, by drinking diet sodas, you are doing your kidneys great harm. Drinking a couple of diet drinks a day has been shown to reduce the kidney function, since high blood pressure, and diabetes is playing a big part as common risk factors for kidney disease, with them being the common side-effects of drinking too much diet drinks, as we mentioned earlier. Diet drinks have also been found to increase the risk of kidney stones. So in conclusion, anyone who is struggling with a medical history of kidney disease should definitely rethink what he/she is drinking (14, 15).

Diet drinks increase the risk of osteoporosis in women

Postmenopausal women are exposed at the great risk of osteoporosis – a chronic condition that causes the bone mass to reduce, increasing the risk of common fractures. Well, science suggests that the caffeine and phosphorus present in the diet drinks are able to interfere with the calcium absorption in the bones, which will result in an increased risk of osteoporosis. However, these findings also showed that diet drinks are increasing the risk of osteoporosis among women only, not men (16). Perhaps it is the hormonal changes that are playing a part in the middle of this process as well.

Diet drinks cause tooth decay

We all know that drinking too many sodas is what causes tooth decay to occur. But did you know that drinking diet sodas do not keep tooth decay away from you? Sadly, but true, despite the fact that there are no sugars present in diet sodas, they can still cause tooth decay. It is their acidic pH levels that are causing tooth erosion and ultimately tooth decay as well (17).


The refreshing taste, no calories, and no sugars are just not worth it when it comes to drinking diet drinks as a part of your daily diet. As you can see, science has spoken, and there are more potential hazards than positive effects when it comes to drinking diet drinks. Do not endanger your health for the purposes of enjoying a cold diet Pepsi. Think twice before you decide to satisfy your thirst by drinking a diet drink.



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