Why diet drinks can make you fatter

Dr Christian explains why it's best to stick to water

diet drinks

by Dr Christian |
Updated on

A study of more than 5,000 people found that those who have lots of diet drinks are more likely to gain weight. My problem with diet drinks is that people have them on their own, not with food, which makes them hungry.

be realistic

This research found that people who consume lots of artificial sweeteners didn’t reduce their overall sugar intake, because they felt like they could indulge in their favourite food, having had a “diet” drink. We kid ourselves like that a lot, and think, “Because I had a diet drink, I can have a pudding”, but we’re not very good at adding it all up. Research has also shown we overestimate the number of calories we burn during exercise by three to four times. On average, we also consume 50 per cent more calories than we think. We believe, as we’ve had low-sugar cola, we can compensate elsewhere.

diet coke
Diet drinks aren't always best ©Getty

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cut back & replace

The other problem is that, because you taste sweetness, your body gets ready to digest sugar. However, these drinks are calorie-free, so there’s nothing to digest and you’re left feeling hungry. Digestion starts well before food has even gone into your mouth – when you smell food, your tummy starts to rumble and your mouth starts to water because you’re already starting to make the appropriate juices to digest. It’s better to drink a diet version than the full-sugar one, but have it with a meal. That way, your body gets the calories it’s expecting.

It’s natural to like sweetness – it’s in our DNA – so giving up all sugar is unrealistic. Instead, if you have a sweet tooth, try to learn to like less-sweet flavours. Cut down on sugar in tea or coffee or choose less sickly desserts – be aware of how sweet things are. Beware of online articles.

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Beer1 of 6


Or more specifically, Guinness as it uses isinglass in its production. Isinglass is made from the bladders of fish, lovely. There aren't direct traces of isinglass in Guinness, but it is used in the manufacturing process. So remember that next time you want a pint.Hoppily has a great selection of vegan beers, which you can treat yourself to on Amazon.

Cheese2 of 6

Parmesan cheese

Parmesan definitely doesn't have any kind of meat substitute in it, right? WRONG. Sorry to all you veggie parmesan lovers but in order for this cheese to be called 'parmesan,' it has to be produced in a traditional method, and that method uses calf rennet. What is calf rennet? I hear you ask – well it's enough to put me off my favourite cheese. It's extracted from the inner mucosa of the fourth stomach chamber of a young, unweaned baby cow. Excuse me while I throw away all traces of parmesan, forever.You don't have to be cheesed off that you can't add any parmesan to your pasta anymore… The Violife Non-Dairy Cheese Alternative Prosociano With Parmesan Flavour is unreal, although it does need a bit of drying first.

Worcestershire Sauce3 of 6

Worcestershire Sauce

Yep, sorry. Ruining your cheese on toast for life. Worcestershire sauce is packed full of anchovies, so unless you're a pescetarian step away from it immediately. You can buy vegan options that apparently takes exactly the same.Bag a vegan alternative to Worcester Sauce so you can sip on a Bloody Mary at brunch.

Marshmallows4 of 6


Guys, marshmallows contain gelatin, didn't you know this? Gelatin is almost as gross as calf rennet, almost. It's derived from collagen inside animals' skin and bones. So no, if you're vegetarian you really, really cannot eat marshmallows when you have a hot chocolate – put that packet down. Oh, and Haribo contains the same thing.Never fear! You can buy some mouth-watering marshmallows from Freedom Confectionery, which are suitable for vegetarians.

Figs5 of 6

Figs - WTF?

Genuinely mind blowing, this one. Figs are not vegetarian. Well kind of. It depends if you count insects as 'animals.' When a wasp pollinates a fig (firstly, did anyone else know wasps had to pollinate figs?), they often gets trapped inside. And for a fig to be edible, they have to have at least one dead female wasp stuck inside. But as the female wasp dies inside, an enzyme from the fruit breaks down the body into protein. Are you sat there in shock because we are. Figs have dead wasp bodies inside them. What is life.

Low fat yoghurt6 of 6

Low fat yoghurt

Next time you want to tuck into a massive bowl of creamy yoghurt with berries and honey you healthy thing you, don't. Lots of low-fat yoghurts, especially Muller Light, contain gelatin – there it is again, pops up everywhere doesn't it? Sorry to ruin your yoghurt obsession.If you're looking for a yoghurt that is 100% plant-based, look no further than the Alpro Plain Unsweetened No Sugars. It's an amazing plain yoghurt, which is perfect for mixing with nuts, raisins and fruit.

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One example is chromium, for cravings. In a study of 113 people with a type of depression that meant they had strong cravings for sugary carbs, two-thirds took chromium tablets for eight weeks and one-third got a placebo. The supplement cut cravings, but that’s very niche, and doesn’t apply to everyone. Some recommend using cinnamon to sweeten foods like porridge, as it’s a warming, natural sugar-free sweetness. That’s worth a try.

drink fizz with food

Ultimately, you can still have diet drinks, but with meals. Better still, drink water. It has no calories and doesn’t mess around with your blood sugar levels and leave you hungry.

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