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How Diet Soda Makes You Fat (and Other Food and Diet Industry Secrets)

How Diet Soda Makes You Fat (and Other Food and Diet Industry Secrets)

How do you lose weight?  Substitute diet drinks for sugary drinks.  Eat low fat foods.  Just eat less of the bad foods – it’s all about the calories.  We are told, “Just have more willpower”. These ideas are false.

They are food and diet industry propaganda that make and keep us fat and sick. Lies by the food industry combined with bad government policy based on food industry lobbying are the major cause of our obesity and diabetes epidemic.

Now over 35 percent of Americans are obese, and almost 70 percent are overweight.  This is not an accident but the result of careful marketing and money in politics.

We are told it is all about making better choices.  If we all took more personal responsibility we could stop this obesity and diabetes epidemic.  We have been told there are no good or bad foods, that the key to weight loss is moderation.

And, of course, if we all just exercised more all of us would lose weight. These ideas hold us hostage.


Diet Soda and Diet Drinks Make You Fat and Cause Type 2 Diabetes

Diet soda makes people fat? Really? How does that happen?

If losing weight were all about the calories, then consuming diet drinks would seem like a good idea.  That’s certainly what Coca-Cola wants us to believe in their new ad highlighting their efforts to fight obesity.  They proudly promote the fact that they have 180 low or no calorie drinks and that they cut sugared drinks in schools by 90 percent.

Is that a good thing?  In fact, it may be worse than having us all drink regular Coke (and the other food giants making diet drinks also push the same propaganda).

A new 14-year study of 66,118 women (supported by many other previous studies) found that the opposite seems to be true. Diet drinks may be worse than sugar-sweetened drinks, which are worse than fruit juices (but only fresh-squeezed fruit juices).

The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered some frightening facts that should make us all swear off diet drinks and products.

  1. Diet sodas raised the risk of diabetes more than sugar-sweetened sodas!
  2. Women who drank one 12-ounce diet soda had a 33 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes and women who drank one 20-ounce soda had a 66 percent increased risk.
  3. Women who drank diet sodas drank twice as much as those who drank sugar- sweetened sodas because artificial sweeteners are more addictive and are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar.
  4. The average diet soda drinker consumes 3 diet drinks a day.

You might say that people who are overweight and just about to get diabetes drink more diet soda, but they scientifically controlled for body weight. And they found the artificial sweeteners increased diabetes independent of body weight!

This and other research shows how diet sodas make people fat and sick.

And that diet drinks may be even worse than regular sugar sweetened sodas!!

How does that happen?

  • Artificial sweeteners are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar activating our genetically programmed preference for sweet taste more than any other substance.
  • They trick your metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way. This causes your body to pump out insulin, the fat storage hormone, which lays down more belly fat.
  • It also confuses and slows your metabolism down, so you burn less calories every day.
  • It makes you hungrier and crave even more sugar and starchy carbs like bread and pasta.
  • In animal studies, the rats that consumed artificial sweeteners ate more, their metabolism slowed, and they put on 14 percent more body fat in just two weeks – EVEN eating less calories.
  • In population studies there was a 200 percent increased risk of obesity in diet soda drinkers.

I love Taylor Swift, I met her last summer. She is a wonderful person with great integrity.  I don’t think she knows about this research and I hope someone shares it with her so she can save millions of children and fans from drinking Diet Coke because she endorses it.

Bottom line:  There is no free ride.  Diet drinks are not good substitutes for sugar-sweetened drinks.  They increase cravings, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. And they are addictive.

Eating Fat Does Not Make You Fat

The diet and food industry has brainwashed us to eat fat-free foods, which seems like common sense. Eating fats makes you fat. Right?  But the science tells us otherwise, not ALL calories are created equal. And even though fat has more calories per gram (9 calories versus 4 calories or carbs and protein), eating fat can help you lose weight.

This low-fat idea was based on bad science. Our government told us in the 1970’s to go on a low-fat diet and to eat 8-11 servings of rice, bread, and pasta a day.  And unfortunately we listened. This was the beginning of our obesity and diabetes epidemic.  The food industry happily created a flood of fat-free foods.

But the science has proven that eating fat doesn’t make you fat – SUGAR does. And it is sugar NOT fat that raises your cholesterol despite what people and most doctors still believe.

A 20-ounce soda is fat-free but that doesn’t make it a health food. If cookies were fat-free, then you can eat the whole bag, right?

But the fat is replaced with flour and sugar, and the result we now have is one in two adults with diabesity – that’s pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, and almost one in four teenagers with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

We did a 10-day sugar-free detox with our online community and 600 people lost more than 4,000 pounds in 10 days!!

So why does eating fat free make you fat and diabetic?

In a recent Harvard study, Dr. David Ludwig found that in two groups eating EXACTLY the same calories, the group that had the low-fat diet (which means higher in sugars and starches) burned 300 calories LESS per day. Their metabolism was slower than the group eating the higher fat and higher protein diet.

If you ate the higher fat, higher protein diet (of exactly the same calories) it is the equivalent of running for ONE hour a day.  In other words, if you just swap out sugars and starches for good quality fats and protein it will be like you added an hour of free exercise a day to your life without any change in calorie intake!

Bottom Line: The key point here is that all calories are NOT the same.  Swap out sugar and starch for good fats such as nuts, avocados, olive oil, and grass-fed animal products or wild fish.  Be a “qualitarian”.  Focus on quality, on real food and the rest takes care of itself.

Being Overweight Is Not Your Fault

The food industry would have us believe that controlling our weight is about personal responsibility.  Tell that to a 200 pound five-year-old with diabetes and liver failure.  Our taste buds have been hijacked by the food and diet industry. We are programmed to like sweet, salt, and fat tastes.

And those slick combinations of sugar, fat and salt in junk and processed food have hijacked our taste buds, our brain chemistry, and our metabolism.  These foods are biologically addictive. We are held hostage by the food industry and we blame ourselves.

This is food terrorism!  The biggest threat to our lives is not Al Qaeda but Coca-Cola (and the other food industry giants)!

How does food addiction happen?

New research shows that industrial food full of processed sugars, fats, salt, and chemicals are powerfully addictive.

And sugar is the worst culprit.

One animal study found that sugar is more addictive than cocaine.

When rats were given the choice between mainline cocaine right into their veins or sweetened water (in fact, they used an artificial sweetener), they found that sugar was eight times more addictive than cocaine.   Even the rats already addicted to cocaine switched over to diet drinks!

And what’s even more interesting is that while cocaine and heroin activate only one spot for pleasure in the brain, sugar lights up the brain like a pinball machine!

If these foods are addictive and drive overeating, then the whole idea of moderation just doesn’t work. Hey, just have that one line of cocaine or that one hit of heroin.

We can’t stop eating, but we can stop eating junk and sugar!

So we have to take back our taste buds, take back our brain chemistry, and take back our bodies from the food and diet industry.

How do we do that?

Bottom Line: By eating real food – chicken, fish, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, and a little whole grains will reset your taste buds and your brain chemistry automatically.

Exercise Your Way to Weight Loss

The food industry and diet industry push exercise. Even Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative focuses on exercise in its name, “Let’s Move”.  But it should be really called “Let’s Eat Real Food.”

Here’s why. Sugar sweetened drinks make up about 15 percent of our calorie intake every day.

But you have to walk 4.5 miles to burn off one 20-ounce soda, which contains 15 teaspoons of sugar.

You have to run four miles a day for one week to burn off one supersize meal.  If you have one supersize meal everyday you would have to run a marathon every day!

You can’t exercise your way out of bad diet – except if your run a marathon every day.

Drinking  32 ounces of Gatorade after a workout is a dumb idea, unless you run around like Kobe Bryant on the basketball court for 48 minutes.  There are better ways to replenish your energy and electrolytes than colored sugar water with a few minerals sprinkled in.

To paraphrase my friend Bill Clinton, “It’s the food stupid!”

Bottom Line:  Exercise is critical to long-term health and weight loss, but you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.

Thankfully science is shedding light on the ideas that keep us fat and sick. Unfortunately, scientists don’t have billion dollar marketing budgets.  But we as a community of thinking people wanting real information can speak out, can spread the word and turn the tide of obesity and chronic disease together. Share this article with your community and friends.

Get started today!  Get your copy of The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook  today.  When you purchase this book from this link you will gain access to these exclusive Dr. Hyman bonuses:

  • 1-Week Gluten-Free Meal Plan – Maps out a full week of breakfasts, lunches and dinners PLUS all new recipes for these.
  • Access to Dr. Hymans Kitchen Videos – Including cooking demos, Fridge and Pantry makeover, supermarket shopping tips and more.  Over 60 minutes of footage.
  • You will be invited to a live online presentation hosted by Dr. Hyman on March 27th, 2013.

Click here to learn more.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (86)

  • You wrote about diet sodas
    “They trick your metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way. This causes your body to pump out insulin, the fat storage hormone, which lays down more belly fat.”
    This doesn’t make sense to me. If a release of insulin is triggered by a rise in blood sugar, then how can your pancreas be tricked into releasing insulin just because you tasted something sweet, but the blood sugar doesn’t raise? I may be speaking out of my ignorance, but I don’t think my pancreas has a mind of it’s own and can anticipate what is coming based on what I taste. It detects what is there and responds.
    I have been living “low carb” for a long time and have 1 diet soda during lunch everyday. I don’t believe my one diet soda is sabotaging my diet and how could I be making fat if the calories I eat are the very ones you say are the good calories. I so agree with the rest of your article about the kinds of calories we eat. Sugar and it’s precursor carbs are the worst because they raise your blood sugar then all that you described about the insulin response becomes true.
    If I’m wrong about how our bodies insulin is released please let me know.

    • Hi Roseanne,

      We appreciate you thinking so critically about this! There is a direct link via hormones between the brain in the head and the brain in the gut. It’s called the enteric nervous system. So in a sense, your gut indeed has a mind of its own… We hope you will continue your quest to gain more understanding of this subject by reading and participating in Dr Hyman’s The Blood Sugar Solution. To learn more, browse the exciting info on the site:

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

      • The most frequently cited study supposedly documenting the harmful effects of sucralose was one (conducted with rats, not humans, and funded by the Sugar Association) published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health in 2008 that reportedly found Splenda might “contribute to obesity, destroy ‘good’ intestinal bacteria and prevent prescription drugs from being absorbed.” However, even that study was refuted by one published the following year in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology which reported that an Expert Panel had found that the previous study was “deficient in several critical areas” and that its conclusions “are not consistent with published literature and not supported by the data presented”:
        A recent study in rats investigated the retail sweetener product, Granulated SPLENDA No Calorie Sweetener (Splenda). The investigators reported that Splenda increased body weight, decreased beneficial intestinal bacteria, and increased the expression of certain cytochrome P450 (CYP450) enzymes and the transporter protein, P-glycoprotein (P-gp), the latter of which was considered evidence that Splenda or sucralose might interfere with the absorption of nutrients and drugs. The investigators indicated that the reported changes were attributable to the sucralose present in the product tested. An Expert Panel conducted a rigorous evaluation of this study. In arriving at its conclusions, the Expert Panel considered the design and conduct of the study, its outcomes and the outcomes reported in other data available publicly. The Expert Panel found that the study was deficient in several critical areas and that its results cannot be interpreted as evidence that either Splenda, or sucralose, produced adverse effects in male rats, including effects on gastrointestinal microflora, body weight, CYP450 and P-gp activity, and nutrient and drug absorption. The study conclusions are not consistent with published literature and not supported by the data presented.
        The reference to sucralose’s being “a molecule that does not exist in nature,” one that “the body does not metabolize or digest” is both inaccurate and relatively meaningless. The fact that the human body does not metabolize sucralose for energy is a positive: it’s what makes sucralose non-caloric and therefore ideal as an artificial sweetener. Most sucralose is unabsorbed and therefore passes harmlessly through the body; a relatively small amount (~15%) of consumed sucralose is absorbed but is excreted via urination with no harmful effects:
        In the body, sucralose is not able to be digested for energy. Further, sucralose is relatively poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). The GIT is replete with enzymes that facilitate rapid uptake of monosaccharides; however, there is no digestion of sucralose at the level of the GIT (or elsewhere in the body). Thus, these enzymes have no impact on sucralose absorption, and specific studies show no active uptake of sucralose. About 85% of consumed sucralose is unabsorbed from the GIT and excreted unchanged in stool. A small amount (approximately 15%) of consumed sucralose is absorbed via passive diffusion across the GIT lumen. Consistent with sucralose being a highly water soluble, small and relatively inert substance, absorbed sucralose is distributed to essentially all tissues and readily excreted in urine. There is no active transport into milk, transplacentally, or across the blood-brain barrier into the central nervous system. Sucralose is not used as a source of energy. It is not dechlorinated, and there is no evidence of degradation to any smaller chlorinated compounds. Sucralose does not bind to proteins in the body, consistent with its relatively non-reactive nature. Most absorbed sucralose, and all unabsorbed sucralose, is excreted unchanged within 24 hours.
        As is also typical with Internet-circulated food health warnings, the accompanying laundry list of “reported symptoms” should be taken with many grains of salt. Self-reported adverse events are simply anecdotal raw data; there is no certainty that the reported events were actually due to the product consumed, much less that they demonstrate a causal relationship between the product and the reported events (especially after consumers are influenced by reading anti-sucralose reports that list what symptoms they’re “supposed” to be experiencing). Such determinations cannot be made until reports have been investigated, evaluated, and analyzed, and no studies have confirmed that the symptoms listed are a common reaction to sucralose. As Dr. Joe Schwarz observed in his work on food myths and misconceptions:
        As with any substance, there can be no absolute guarantee about the safety of sucralose for everyone. Any food or additive, be it peanuts or apples, aspartame or sucralose, can cause a problem for some people. But reactions to sucralose are rare indeed.

    • I quite drinking diet pop or any pop in July 2014 and now its Nov 11, 2014 and I have lost 14lbs and feel better. yes, I watch what I eat… dairy, pop, sugar,(little bit of sugar) now and then, no red meat, no pork, i feel great.

  • Dr. Hyman,
    You are so right on! I drank 2-3 diet cokes each evening. Otherwise ate fairly healthy diet-not much sugar, junk or fast food. After reading one of your articles last year about artificial sweeteners, I switched out the diet coke for regular coke. (Yes, I know I should drink water instead). Bottom line-I lost 10 lbs in the first 2 wks! 6 months later, I have now lost almost 40 lbs. Haven’t been to the gym a single time! I’m just not hungry any more, and am satisfied without needing to finish my meal. No one can believe that is all I did to lose the weight!
    Concerned about the ongoing weight loss without “dieting”, I had extensive blood work done, and my results have never been better!
    Thank you for spreading the word about the evils of artificial sweeteners!

    • I think you have taken a great amount of time and effort preparing your comment. What worries me though is the fact that we are ‘sold’ the chemicals and processed food as healthy and nourishing food. Researchers are taking a great amount of time testing these products – is it really such an amazing idea feeding us these things in the first place? Why entertain the consumption of modified and processed foods? For years I bought into this idea that what we find on our supermarket shelves is ‘food’. After feeling more and more irritated by it I have decided to eat a much more natural diet and feel and look amazing after losing quite a bit of weight by simply cutting out the artificial and processed stuff as well as sugar and bread. If we ate a more natural diet then we wouldn’t need all this research for weird food stuffs and didn’t have discussions about their safety of them … Just an observation …

  • Dear Dr. Hyman,

    Since being diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes in September I have lost over 35 lbs and brought my blood sugar numbers down from over 300 to “normal”. I have read your books, website info and newsletters and shared them, given them as presents and recommended them to anyone who will listen. I am probably obnoxious about it! ( also Dr Schwarzbein)

    Here is my big “secret”: I gave up sugar in all of it’s permutations, flour, white rice and cut WAY back on white potatoes but have them occasionally when they show up in a soup etc. I eat quality food, organic, natural or local where I can. I take an excellent yoga class two mornings a week and try to move my big muscles at least a 1/2 hour another 2 days a week ( there is a hill behind my house that begs for conquering!). I don’t beat myself up if the needle on the scale doesn’t move for a week or two and I smile like a maniac when it does. I reward myself by buying a smaller size pair of jeans and adding the loose ones to the “get it out of here” pile.

    I do still have a few food vices – love my coffee, have not given up dairy but do not use low fat options, and find that a little stevia in my life helps with the intense cravings that come from years of sugar abuse… I was a Coca Cola addict.
    I have also had to deal with iron overload this fall, but discovered that IP6 works better than therapeutic phlebotomy, much to the surprise of my doctor, that too is completely under my control.

    I guess what I want to share is, you and one or two of your colleagues, who have dared to stand up and say STOP the madness, have saved me from being a pin-cushion, “test” subject, sick person and have guided me towards health and regaining the balance necessary for the life we all hope for. Many blessings to you for spreading the word.

    KH, Chester VT

  • Thanks for the nice column, Dr. Hyman. These things need to be said about sweeteners and artificial sweeteners. I learned about the dangers of artificial sweeteners when I was a graduate student in the psychology department at Duke University in the early 80s. a friend of mine was working in a gustation lab studying sweeteners, especially artificial sweeteners. He would open up a rats skull and put electrode directly into the taste centers in the brain. He would then apply a sweetener to the rat’s tongue and we could hear the effects on the cell on speakers in the lab as he also recorded them with the computer. Many times the seller would start firing and accelerate to the point where it was a steady tone just before it quit. I asked my friend, “why did it stop?”. “The cell died,” he said emphatically. I thought about this and decided that if an artificial sweetener could fool the brain in this way then it must also be causing a huge bolus of insulin to be released as well, after all it was clear that the brain was being fooled. Since the mid-80s I’ve been teaching my patients that artificial sweeteners are even more dangerous than regular sweeteners. it is nice to see you emphasizing the same point. Although I am a lowly clinical psychologist, I have been getting every patient of mine that I can on Paleo diet that consists of whole, real foods, protein, healthy fats, and very low carbs — all of those coming from vegetables. First I did the experiment on myself, losing 32 pounds into an half months, all well refraining from exercise to see what sort of muscle wasting effects might or might not occur. I lost no muscle whatsoever. All I lost was fat. Ofspecial interest to me was that my mind became so clear on these healthier foods. Thank goodness for the Paleo nutritionists and the functional medicine docs who are combating advertisers and politicians on food information in this country. Please keep it up!

  • Dr. Hyman,

    Thanks for being on the front lines in this enormous battle against diabesity, people need to start taking control of their health by eating nutrient dense foods, exercising and adopting a healthy lifestyle. I read your Blood Sugar solution, and my wife and I have lost a combined total of 95 pounds and have never been leaner and healthier in our lives and we are in our mid-forties, so age doesn’t matter. We need more doctors like you in this country that are willing to take a proactive approach in fighting this massive epidemic.

  • I am soo confused!, I was in the BETA study for 10 days. I did not lose any wght, my husband however lost 14#, just from eating my cooking. I was doing the DUKAN diet and I was losing wight, then I decided to join the Detox diet with Dr. Hyman’s program and gained all the wehight I had lost in 6 weeks, 10 pounds to be exact. I am discoraged and frustrated, I did like the food in the study, I enjoyed it all very interesting combination of foods, I am still doing the shake in the morning, I have kept the routine more or less, but still not losing wgt. I do not have a thyroid gland it was removed due to cancer 5 years ago, I know it will be harder for me to lose weight, but this hard?, I gained 60 pounds between my 2 pregnancies and the lack of thyroid, so you can understand my frustration, also bein 45 years old and does not help any. I work out, eat healthy and try about every diet in the market promessing to help me with the weight and see no results. I am 200# would like to lose 50#, it should not be that hard right?. Any suggestions? [email protected].

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks for sharing your story. We would like to support you. Unfortunately Dr Hyman is unable to provide personal medical advice in this forum. For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • I used to love Mountain Dew when I was growing up. My roommate still does – he lives on it, along with cigarettes.

    One day, I really needed to stay awake because I hadn’t slept the night before, and I had to go to work. At my local convenience store, they had the original Mountain Dew, the one that had the real sugar in it.

    Surprise, surprise! I couldn’t even finish it. Not because it didn’t taste good, but when I got that little hit of energy that I needed, I was able to cap it and put it aside without a second thought. (Ice water is really my beverage of choice, though.)

    Keep up the good work!

  • I know my metabolism has been ruined by sugar and I am addicted to coffee. The problem is, there is no good food in supermarkets. Cash cropping and meat production are extractive processes and therefore not sustainable. Health and particularly a healthy immune system are fed by vitamins and co-vitamins not yet discovered, and the production of immune supporting molecules is catalyzed by elements depleted from the soil.

    No amount of organic practices can replace elements lost, and chemical fertilizers are worse. For example, garlic needs Selenium to produce the full nutritional benefit, but you can’t put Selenium in fertlizer because it is toxic when it dissolves into groundwater.

    Every known anti-carcinogenic plant species has an unusually high uptake of one or more Rare Earth Elements, but the role of REE in the eco-system is completely unknown and they are depleted from the soil everywhere that alliums and brassicas have been grown commercially – if they were present originally. The only path to sustainable health is to return the waste of human consumption to the soil where the food is grown – and eliminating water borne sanitation is illegal in civilized (citified) places.

  • Fantastic article! EVERYONE should read this and it should be taught in schools! As an 80% raw food/vegan who coaches diabetics and others to improve health through diet and a holistic focus on their well being, I feel this information is critical to the forward movement of preventative health (and the reduction in our health care crisis). It’s true that BIG BUSINESS does not want people to know the the other side of ‘low fat/fat free’ eating. I was once a junk food eater who consumed large amounts of refined sugar, as well as very starchy foods, meat and dairy. I had significant issues with hypoglycemia my entire life and when I hit my 40’s the hormones went haywire. I was a mess. I was depressed, anxious, tired and scared about how bad I always felt. I’ve since been on a life-long journey to help my body heal itself, as the medical industry could not help me with their pills and potions they offered. FINALLY, after reading and talking to various sourced about how to REALLY be healthy, I eliminated refined sugar, starch, dairy and meat from my diet and increased vegetable/fruit consumption and at 45 years old feel better and look better (most people guess I’m in my 30’s) than I ever did in my 20’s or 30’s. I’ve eliminated medication for anxiety as my hormones are now in balance. We ALL have a choice about how we feel and what we put into our bodies. It is OUR responsiblity to educate ourselves and push up against what we’ve been taught for years about eating and health. It’s awkward and uncomfortable moving out of eating the mainstream ‘SAD (standard american diet). I don’t care how much time it takes to prepare my food; how much it costs; or what people say when I tell them how I eat. I feel amazing. Extraordinary health feels better to me than any food tastes. 🙂

  • Thank you Dr. Hyman for sharing this info and for putting it into such concise language. As an R..N. who treats people with diabetes and obesity ,I feel this information is indispensable. Some of it is a bit counterintuitive ,so explaining the mechanism of how low fat diets and sugar substitutes and sugary drinks make people obese and diabetic is of great value to the community. I am in Nicaragua and have been working at a clinic where diabetes is rampant .This is is a major problem that is draining money from our healthcare systems here and in the U.S. That money could otherwise be spent on treating unpreventable health problems research. I will be sharing this info with my friends and patients.

  • Thank you Dr. Hyman for sharing this artile. My hope it that more and more people will continue seeing this message about diet soda. My clients are often shocked that I recommend they cut it out entirely. After all they’ve been conditioned to believe its “diet” so it must be okay. Same thing with low-fat or no-fat. Often these diet myths are so hardwired that it takes several articles and conversations to actually convince someone to try a different strategy.

    I find this to be especially true when it comes to wheat and gluten. I know Dr. Hyman is a big advocate of gluten free and not just for celiac patients. The same challenges apply to the “whole wheat” conversation as they do with sugar-free soda – people are convinced whole wheat and gluten grains are good for you. WRONG!

  • I always believed in a nutritional diet, but it wasn’t until I faced chronic illness, that I made a serious commitment to that ideal. At that juncture in life, I instituted new rules in the house like eating ONLY whole foods, eating sit down, fully prepared dinners at the table, and eating nutritious, sit down breakfasts every morning. The other big food problem I eliminated from my life was my awful coffee addiction. Like beating any drug addiction, this was difficult and took the support of my husband and friends. My health improved dramatically and the quality of my life improved as well. I now make and enjoy a wide range of whole foods, and when I eat packaged, artificially sweetened food, I can’t stand the taste. We truly do loose our taste for the stuff. Eat good food and you’ll never want to munch on Cheetos again.

  • After having foot surgery to repair flat feet, I began getting severe leg cramps every night when laying down to sleep. A friend told me to drink a Gatorade or Powerade a day and they would stop, It has helped me a lot. We figured it must be because of the electrolytes. You said above there are better ways to get electrolytes. I would be happy to try some if you would give me some suggestions.

  • What about stevia or truvia? Do they have the same impact as artificial sweeteners?

    • Hi Jo Ann,

      While they dont have calories they can still lead to imbalances in sugar control as well as cravings so Dr Hyman advises to eliminate ALL sweeteners- even these so-called “healthy” ones while rebooting the metabolism.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • We agree with Dr. Hyman’s information on eating healthily. Following his plan I have been able to balance my blood sugar and discontinue oral medication for type 2 diabetes.
    Thank goodness for Dr.Hyman!

  • In your post “Diet Soda and Diet Drinks Make You Fat and Cause Type 2 Diabetes” you have confused association with cause. The study you mention is an observational study and not a clinical trial. Observational studies are only able to identify associations and not causes.Diet soda may well be associated with obesity and Type 2 diabetes but that does not mean the relationship is causal. For example, do we know if the people who consumed diet soda and were at increased risk for Type 2 diabetes also consumed a so-called ‘healthty diet’, i.e. a high-carbohydrate diet? If so, then it is possible that the high-carbohydrate diet rather than the diet soda is the villian of the piece.

    Only a well designed radomised controlled trial is able to determine if diet soda is a causal agent in obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

    • True! While I do understand and generally agree with the observations of this study, it would be wonderful to see a clinical trial to settle this issue.

  • Thank you for this article and all the other work you are doing to get this message out to people. I believe that what we need is a nationwide campaign to protect ourselves from the food industry which is killing us.

    People said we couldn’t change our addiction to tobacco. They said Big Tobacco was too strong. But, although we still have a lot of work to do on that front, we have made great progress with making more and more areas smoke free and helping people to kick this toxic addiction.

    I think we need the same sort of campaign against the foods which are sentencing our children to lives of obesity and sickness. It will happen if people like you continue to get the word out and people like your readers spread your ideas in their communities.

    We can’t afford to let the food companies continue to get rich off of people’s suffering no matter how many high priced lobbyists they have.

    Please keep up your good work.

    • I agree.. I can drink 3 diet sodas or 6 if I am thirsty… I drink them because I am thirsty not hungry….if I drank a sugar soda I would still be thirsty but feeling full and then not able to drink something else such as water to deal with the thirst.. sugar sodas fill you up and make me jittery and then sluggish….my being able to drink 6 diets using the theory I am not being satisfied and looking for sugar… that’s rubbish!!! I think when doing studies you can design a study to prove whatever you would like to prove… I think we should all drink whichever soda we enjoy… end of story. Wait… when it comes to children… let;s look at what we feed them… how much we feed them… our expecatations for exercise and activity for them…or perhaps look at parental habits as an indicator as to whether children could … will be obese… children learn to overeat at a young age… when in school they are encouraged to eat fast and eat at lunch time… they are not allowed to eat when hungry anymore.. they then visit daycare or afterschool care where a snack is given at a certain time.. I think we have lots of reasons for childhood obesity… and it’s not fair to target just one… COMMON SENSE goes a long way towards a healthy weight… for children and adults.

  • I wish there had been mention of the form of sugar used in sweetened beverages and other products that AREN’T artificially sweetened: high fructose corn syrup. It also causes more weight gain than real sugar and throws the insulin balance off. Fructose is processed by the liver and not much of it is metabolized compared to glucose, instead it’s stored in fat cells. Overall, it’s just extremely unhealthy and regular Coke and other sodas are full of it.

    On the addictive nature of sugar, I can vouch for that. I’m currently living in Mexico and most Mexican people are hopelessly hooked. Things that I would occasionally eat in the US, like a doughnut once in a while, are so sweet here, I can’t stand them. And I understand Mexico is second only to the United States for the rate of obesity.

  • Thankfully I’ve always hated the taste of “fake” sugar, but never realized just how horrible it is in so many ways! Also your comparison of the results of eating low fat high carb and high sugar vs eating low carb and low sugar made me stop reading so I could post this article on FB right away. There is so much useful information in this article; it has inspired me to commit to changing my diet and the diet of my family members. Thanks!

  • I am so excited about your new cookbook can hardly wait for it to arrive.

  • Thank you Dr. Hyman, more of this please, maybe over time it opens enough peoples’ eyes so we all together can make the change. I always “knew” it’s not the (good quality) fat that makes you fat but the sugar but could never understand why. Now I even learnt that diet drinks make you sick – I never touched them anyways because I simply don’t believe in voluntarily adding chemicals to my food. You just conformed that was a great idea.


  • Please help the public to organize a campaign to detoxify our foods. We have few choices on High Fructose Corn Syrup which is everywhere. It’s entry into the soda industry marked the beginning of the rapid weight gain phase in the American population. I once attended a lecture at a brain conference where the researcher on HFCS said that it was good for only one thing: profit. The same with diet drinks. My dad used to work as an accountant for a bottling company. He said that it was much cheaper to make diet pop, yet at that time (the 1960’s) diet pop cost more in the store. When will profit stop driving every event in this country?

    I have only used diet pop when they contained cyclamates, and only for about six months. The others nauseate me and are sickenly sweet -worse than powdered sugar which I have never liked either.. Even at the dentist I have my teeth cleaned with unsweeted cleaner.

    • >>>>> When will profit stop driving every event in this country?

      This question wrongly puts the blame on capitalism, just like the food companies wrongly put the blame for obesity on US for a lack of self control.

      Within Common Law, the law this country was started on, there is the idea of the Tort, or a civil wrong. Tort law deals with situations where a person’s behavior has unfairly caused someone else to suffer loss. Contracting diabetes because of addictive sugar intake is certainly harmful.

      The opposite to profits is the loss of profits. Class Action law suits reined in the tobacco industry. Similarly, class action law suits against Coke, Pepsi, etc. will, when successful, stop the fructose war. These food companies have created and distributed addictive items which have caused immeasurable harm to millions. A cash settlement, sufficient to take the profits made by their wayward scheme, is the way the capitalistic system was meant to operate.

  • Please help the public to organize a campaign to detoxify our foods. We have few choices on High Fructose Corn Syrup which is everywhere. It’s entry into the soda industry marked the beginning of the rapid weight gain phase in the American population. I once attended a lecture at a brain conference where the researcher on HFCS said that it was good for only one thing: profit. The same with diet drinks. My dad used to work as an accountant for a bottling company. He said that it was much cheaper to make diet pop, yet at that time (the 1960’s) diet pop cost more in the store. When will profit stop driving every event in this country?

    I have only used diet pop when they contained cyclamates, and only for about six months. The others nauseate me and are sickenly sweet -worse than powdered sugar which I have never liked either.. Even at the dentist I have my teeth cleaned with unsweeted cleaner. I don’t need chemicals in my body nd neither does anyone else!

  • Dr. Hyman…..If you would confer with Dr. William Davis (Wheat Belly) and work together with him, I know you and he could do SO much good for our population. The most difficult thing in changing our eating habits in America is the lobby system we allow to influence our politicians….they do not think of the harm they are doing just the bottom line….it’s time for caring about the health and welfare of Americans, starting with children. Unfortunately, Dr. Davis’ message has to be spread via grass roots organizations, just like you have done with your message via PBS, books and a website…..I think both of you are bright stars, trying to encourage people to take back their health and change the food industry (agribusiness) in the USA. Keep up the good work!

  • This is exactly what I preach to my patients! And I’m a cardiologist. Thanks for summarizing and explaining this so well!

  • Is the 10-day sugar-free detox available on the website? I’ve looked around and either overlooked it or couldn’t find. Please help.

  • Fantastic Article! Everyone who reads this article needs to help you get the word out! I posted this on Facebook but the whole world should know the truth. My nutritional education began when I was inspired by the book The Sugar Blues. I wasn’t sure if all of the science in that book was proven but most of it made sense to me so I decided to try a change of diet. I began cutting out sodas which meant most of my caffeine intake was also reduced. I immediately noticed a difference in my emotional state. I was calmer. I hadn’t realized what a toll the sugar and caffeine was taking on my nervous system. I continued reducing my processed sugar intake and realized that the less I ate, the better I felt. It was then that I realized that I could improve my well-being by modifying my diet. What a concept! I am now studying to be a Nutritional Therapist – it’s the best education ever!
    Pass this article on – it could save lives!!

  • Hi there,

    As a type2 diabetic, I was advised by doctors and dieticians to select artiicially sweetener and products.

    If you can’t drink juices or regular soda because of the sugar content, what is a diabetic supposed to drink aside from water?


    • Hi Roni,

      Think about it like this- your body needs water to survive. It doesn’t need juice or any other liquid! Water is truly the best drink to have for anyone, especially those with diabesity. You can have some herbal tea, a little green tea or seltzer once in a while. But while you heal from blood sugar imbalances it is best to remove toxic substances from your body and just provide the basics… Check out for more info!

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

    • I used to feel this way too. I found squeezing a slice of lemon into my water made it much more drinkable am was able to motivate myself to quit all sugared drinks this way. Or a big water bottle with lemon slices in it. For a change of pace, use lime or cucumber slices and/or fresh mint.
      And very early on in my move off sugar, to get myself started, I would pour a small amount of juice into a full glass of water. I really wanted some flavor. But once I discovered the lemon, it was easy.
      Good luck!

  • I too was addicted to diet Coke. I had terrible late evening anxiety. By doing a cleanse with Advocare, accidentally discovered it was the diet coke. I had a hard tiime quiting. Even after a few months still wanted it. Now after 5 mo I am free. I am now pre-diabetic and have adrenal insufficiency. I have gained weigh right around the middle of my body. Loosing weight is a problem for lack of energy to exercise, although I do walk daily before work. I am now eating to feel well and to have enough energy to get through my day. At 5 PM it is over and my energy is gone. I should have listened to my boss who was an endcrinologist 10 years ago who told me that she knew about diet cola’s. I am just wondering how long it is going to take to get my health back.

  • I just want to say thank you so very much for the work you do, Dr. Hyman, and for generously putting this information out to the world, for being a huge ripple effect. I am committed to speaking more publicly in 2013 in my small town in Moab, Utah about food, nourishment, and what it means to be healthy. Thank you for this information. I’m making my big debut on our local radio station to promote my upcoming class Understanding Cravings at our local health food store, Moonflower Market. I will definitely be using content in this article (as well as content from many other of your articles!) in my interview. Many thanks.

  • In place of water, because I don’t like the chemicals or flavor in normal water, what can I drink? Crystal Light, MiO, flavored water from the store, it all has sweetener in it. Also well water versus city and bottled water, I don’t want my insides to look like an old bath tub, what is my best choice there as well?

    • Hi Tony,

      Have you tried adding lemon or lime to purified water? This is a great alternative to artificial flavorings.

      • I think there is an inaccuracy in this statement that you made:

        • In animal studies, the rats that consumed artificial sweeteners ate more, their metabolism slowed, and they put on 14 percent more body fat in just two weeks – EVEN eating less calories.

        Actually, the rat study was just on saccharin, but your statement leads one to believe that all artificial sweeteners do that. Can you provide links to those studies please?

        • Hello Marie,

          Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Sorry, but are unable to provide you with citations for the study you are asking about.

          Wishing You the Best of Health!

          Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I drink about a 12 pack of Diet Coke a day. I exercise 4-5 days a week. I rarely drink water. I was trying to drink more water and found the new product called Mio – I checked with my doctor who screams at me about my Diet Coke and she said Mio was fine. Any thoughts on Mio?

    • Hello,

      Sorry but we don’t have any information on Mio to share, perhaps another reader may.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Do we get sugar from meat alone, from the grains and corn that the animals eat? or would that be too minuscule to matter, or it does it not work that way anyway? I never knew how much vegetable nutrients people get from meat, if any. how that works. I had heard from vegan sources that frequently American pigs and other livestock are fed a very sweet cornmeal diet, sometimes with M&Ms or other goodies thrown in for good measure.

    • Hi Matthew,

      Animal protein contains mostly protein and fat. The sugar fed to animals converts to fat (not the healthy kind!). Try to stick to grass fed, wild meat and poultry that are fed a natural diet and no hormones or antibiotics. For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • I would like you to keep up the good work.You know how to make your post understandable for most of the people.

  • Really it is very useful post & I like to read these types of post & thanks for sharing such type of posts…

  • What a great article guys I stop drinking soda many years ago and I have never looked back since. I’ve also never felt better it’s amazing how many calories and sugar is in each can soda. If people would only look at the label, And realize that two to three cans of soda a day is another meal in itself. i for one a fan of vitamin water or SOBE waters.

  • Well guess what…I am not going to stop drinking them. I am an alcoholic and stopped drinking 17 years ago, and this is my new addiction. I love them. I know people who consume them en masse and are thin…you are leaving out the genetic link here. Would I be better off without them, probably so, as your research so thoroughly states. But I am not giving them up.

  • Pretty portion of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing on your feeds or even I achievement you get right of entry to constantly rapidly.

  • Nice post .. it is very useful post ,
    I like to read these types of post , thanks for sharing ..

  • Dr. Hyman’s assertion that artificial sweeteners trigger an insulin response is correct. Here is one study that backs that up:

    Study participants drank either water or Sucralose prior to consuming glucose. In the Sucralose group, insulin levels increased by 20% vs. the group that had water first. Also of note is that blood sugar was also substantially higher in the Sucralose group. When participants switched groups the results were the same: insulin and blood sugar were markedly higher in the Sucralose group.

    Hormone response from sweet taste on the tongue does not fully explain the study results. Why was blood sugar higher in the Sucralose group, if insulin levels were also elevated? The answer appears to be that Sucralose increased the absorption of glucose in the intestine.

  • Howdy! This article couldn’t be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept preaching about this. I will send this post to him.

    Pretty sure he’ll have a very good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

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  • Correlation is not the same as causation. You are a doctor, right? I would think they teach you that much in med school. From one of the research papers you site as “facts”: ” We cannot rule out that factors other than ASB consumption that we did not control for are responsible for the association with diabetes, and randomized trials are required to prove a causal link between ASB consumption and T2D.”
    How on earth do you consider this research as facts, when the researchers don’t?

  • I find your blog a very interesting and helpful. Yes I agree with you in everything you said. This is very informative. I will share this one to my parents. Thanks

  • I have just been on a diet where I lost 23 kgs and drank 3 Pepsi Next per day. My husband also lost 12 kgs doing the same thing. So not sure where that leaves your article???? Interesting……..

  • I love your article Dr. Human! I was a teen and then young adult in the 80’s when the diet and exercise craze happened. I worked out, was very fit, but very unhealthy on the inside. The food industry sold MSG over the counter as a salt substitute, diet foods, snacks, and drinks were in every popular brand. I actually hated the taste of diet soda and struggled to find one I liked so I didn’t buy into it for long. About the only thing I liked was Slimfast. It was crazy to see all of these diet foods, just loaded with artificial sugar, colors, flavors, just a bunch of chemical junk. Yet fast forward to today and people still buy into it after 3 decades yet proof is in the pudding, people are fatter and sicker. The food industry has too much control over us. They even brought back one of the most artificial snack foods ever made, Twinkies! Why? Let it go! We cannot make progress as health coaches with all this junk out there and a food corp at the head of it all with billions to spend to push it on us all. Keeping junk cheap, and healthy more expensive.

  • Dear Dr. Hyman,

    Thank you for providing the truth! Will be sharing this important information in as many places as possible. Had a friend that after she’d kicked the diet drink habit, realized how much she’d crave “junk” foods when she drank them. Said she’d take a sip of the diet drink and “poof” before she realized it – she’d be chomping on a plate of fried french fries. Scared her to quit cold turkey and never look back – she lost weight of course too.

    Best health always,

  • How can any artificial sweetener fool the body into thinking it is sugar. That’s ridiculous. That’s like saying I am going to put on my jogging shoes and my sweats get up off the couch walk out into the street jog a few steps then come back into the house and lay on the couch I will now lose several pounds because I have fooled my body into thinking I am exercising.

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  • Yes, they is happening to me 100%:
    I am trying to eat less than 2200 calories a day with no weight loss, I am taking 2-5 Diet sodas a day and other artificial sweeteners for tea and other things, for instance my wife is making a cake and she puts artificial sweeteners with oats to make it like real cake!! all for nothing, just waiting and waiting, and no wight loss!!!!!

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