When it comes to losing weight and a ketogenic diet, there can often be confusion as to what may or may not kick you out of ketosis. In particular, people may wonder whether or not consuming anything sweet, even from sugar-free sweeteners, is allowed on a ketogenic diet.
Diet sodas are notorious with people on diets and those looking to lower their calorie and/or sugar intake, so will a Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi prevent or kick you out of ketosis?
Can you drink diet sodas like Diet Coke, Pepsi Zero, or Diet Mountain Dew while following a ketogenic diet? Yes, diet coke and other diet sodas are allowed on a ketogenic diet, and will not prevent or kick you out of a state of ketosis.
In this article, I'll delve a bit deeper into some common myths and misconceptions regarding diet sodas and keto, artificial sweeteners, and why you may want to include them or abstain from diet soda if you're looking to lose weight.
Can I Drink Diet Coke And Other Diet Sodas While On Keto?
Whether you're a Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Sprite Zero, or a Diet Mountain Dew person…Diet sodas, in general, are considered o.k. to consume in the context of a ketogenic diet and/or for weight loss. That's because diet sodas are non-caloric beverages, meaning they have zero calories and, therefore, zero carbohydrates.
The confusion people encounter when it comes to diet sodas is the use of artificial sweeteners, and whether or not the sweet taste is enough to prevent or knock you out of ketosis.
To answer that question briefly, it's no, they don't, but let me explain further.
How Ketosis Is Established And Artificial Sweeteners
Reaching and maintaining a level of ketosis is established through carbohydrate restriction in the diet.
Your liver glycogen stores serve as an energy storage reservoir for use throughout your body, but mostly for your central nervous system and your brain.
When carbohydrate stores are low, particularly carbohydrates/glucose stored in the liver, our body compensates by creating ketones. Your body produces ketones as a way to fuel your brain and central nervous system if glucose levels aren't sufficient, which happens as a result of following a very low-carb or ketogenic diet.Therefore, the only way to prevent or “knock yourself out” of ketosis is through the ingestion of enough carbohydrates to do so.
Artificial sweeteners, especially those found in diet sodas, specifically aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and acesulfame-K, are virtually calories and carb-free.
It would be impossible for diet sodas to prevent or knock you out of ketosis.
Also, it's important to address that zero-calorie sweeteners DO NOT cause a blood sugar spike and have a glycemic index (GI) of zero.
Aren't Artificial Sweeteners Poisonous?
Another common misconception is that artificial sweeteners are harmful to you, but quite the contrary. Unlike supplements, artificial sweeteners released for consumption to the masses are run through safety evaluations by regulatory authorities.
More specifically, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) go through a process whereby submission of both scientific and safety data is used to determine the safety of a particular food, in addition to an acceptable daily intake (ADI).
While research on diet soda has a lot of conflicting evidence in terms of the “negative side effects,” most of this research implies that any adverse effect is observational.
There has been no conclusive attribution to diet soda themselves being the culprit.
While observational studies may offer a glimpse into the efficacy of certain things, it's tough to draw any reliable conclusions based on them.
For example, let's take criminal activity.
During the summer months, criminal activity across the world more than double. Also, ice cream purchases go up exponentially during the summer months.
Based on observation and correlating data, ice cream is the result of criminal activity.
See how dumb that sounds? When it comes to making any decision based on anything you read, even from me, always put on your skeptic hat and make the best-informed choice you can.
If drinking sodas sweetened with “natural” sweeteners make you feel better, I love the Zevia brand of diet sodas, which uses stevia as its primary sweetener.
How Diet Sodas May Help Your Keto Weight Loss Goals
A regular can of soda contains ~150 calories compared to a diet soda, which contains zero calories. According to the beverage marketing corporation, the average American drinks a whopping equivalent of 487 cans of soda PER YEAR.
If we quickly do the math on that, 487 cans multiplied 150 calories is just over 73,000 calories.
Now, a pound of fat has ~3,500 calories. Let's assume you are one of the Americans who drink the equivalent of 487 cans of soda per year and maintaining your weight with your current diet.
By making a simple switch to diet soda (or any non-caloric beverage), and making no changes to your diet, you could potentially lose up to ~21lbs with that easy substitution.
Now, imagine if you ate better, exercised, and eliminated all the soda from your diet. Could you imagine how drastic a transformation you might expect in as little as one year or less?
Pretty drastic if you ask me.
When it comes to diet soda, I like to indulge in one or two a day as a way to break up the monotony of drinking only water.
Diet sodas also act as an appetite suppressant for me during periods of dieting, but this may not be the case for everyone.
How Diet Sodas May Ruin Your Keto Diet
A Diet Coke or two may help one individual stay on track, but that same diet soda may completely sabotage another's keto journey, but it's not what you may be thinking.
While a Diet Coke may be a great way for me to suppress my appetite or have something sweet after dinner, for someone else, it may be an appetite stimulant.Sometimes the simple act of having something sweet, even if it is artificially sweetened, may open the flood gate to cravings.
If the sweetness of diet sodas is enough to cause you to be hungry or crave sweets, it may not be a worthwhile tradeoff. Abstaining from diet soda altogether may be the best course of action while following a ketogenic diet for some individuals.
I liken this to what I call the abstainer vs. a moderator.
Abstainers are best when they eliminate something from their diet COMPLETELY. For abstainers, they approach things almost with an all or nothing attitude.
To best illustrate this, I'll use myself as an example.
When it comes to ice cream, if you hand me a pint, that pint will be finished within a few minutes. On the other hand, my girlfriend is perfectly fine eating one or two spoonfuls and putting the pint back in the freezer.
It's the same with cookies if she opens a bag of Oreos, one cookie is enough to fulfill her cravings, whereas I may need a whole sleeve.
In this case, it's easier for me not to have any versus having a little bit. For my girlfriend, she'd feel more deprived of having nothing and does best with having some, even if it's a tiny piece.
Diet Coke and any other diet soda are perfectly o.k. in the context of getting and staying in ketosis.
For someone looking for a keto-friendly drink besides water, diet sodas offer a great alternative, especially if you are used to drinking regular sugar-filled sodas.
You may even want to consider using them as mixers if you like to occasionally partake in a keto-friendly alcoholic beverage or two once in a while.
Diet Coke and other diet sodas may help curb appetite or fulfill that sweet that you miss while following a ketogenic diet, but should be used in moderation.
However, If Diet Coke or any other diet sodas cause uncontrollable hunger and cravings while on your keto diet, you're better off abstaining, at least for a little while.