If you’re trying to lose weight, you might be tempted to drink zero calorie sodas. Unfortunately, according to a new study, diet beverages may actually prevent weight loss due to chemicals that disrupt your metabolism.
The study looked at the ingredients in diet beverages and how they affected your body. It showed that diet soda drinks typically contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener.
When your body absorbs aspartame, it releases a compound called phenylalanine. This disrupts an enzyme responsible for keeping your metabolism running smoothly.
In this latest study, researchers demonstrated that the phenylalanine effect not only prevented weight loss – but could even lead to weight gain.
About Diet Drinks For Weight Loss
During this latest study, researchers tested the effects of aspartame in mice. Mice were separated into four groups and tracked for 18 weeks.
Two groups of mice were fed a normal diet, with one receiving drinking water with aspartame, while the other received plain water.
The other two groups were fed a high-fat diet, along with either aspartame-infused water or plain water.
The study was setup to closely replicate the effects of humans drinking diet sodas. Animals in the normal diet group that received aspartame consumed an amount equal to a human adult drinking about 3.5 cans of diet soda per day, while the animals in the high-fat group consumed the equivalent of 2 cans.
By the end of the study, the two groups of mice on the normal diet had no significant difference in weight, while those on the high-fat diet with aspartame gained the most weight.
Weight gain wasn’t the only negative effect for the aspartame group. In fact, both aspartame-receiving groups had higher blood sugar levels and higher inflammation levels.
What Does This Mean for Weight Loss?
Aspartame contains a compound called phenylalanine. After giving aspartame to mice, this compound was shown to disrupt an enzyme that plays a key role in your metabolism. The enzyme is also crucial for reducing your risk of metabolic disorders.
During this same study, researchers also found that mice with aspartame in their drinking water gained more weight and developed more issues with metabolism than those that did not.
In other words, mice didn’t even have to drink diet beverages to experience the negative health effects: they just had to drink water with aspartame inside.
“Sugar substitutes like aspartame are designed to promote weight loss and decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome, but a number of clinical and epidemiologic studies have suggested that these products don't work very well and may actually make things worse,' the report's senior author Dr. Richard Hodin said,” as quoted in the Daily Mail.
Hodin went on to explain that aspartame blocks one specific enzyme called alkaline phosphatase, or IAP.
That enzyme plays an active role within your gut, and has been shown to prevent obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Aspartame does not work effectively as a sugar replacement because, even as it is substituting itself for sugar, it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP.
This latest study shows that it can lead to an increased risk of metabolic disorders and weight gain, among other health effects.
Other Studies Reinforce the Dangers of Aspartame
This isn’t the first time Dr. Hodin has looked at the IAP enzyme. In 2013, Dr. Hodin found that feeding IAP to mice kept on a high-fat diet could prevent the development of metabolic syndrome.
Meanwhile, giving IAP to mice that already had metabolic syndrome led to a reduction in symptoms.
Ultimately, some research shows that diet sodas have no major health effects, while others show that they can be devastating to your health. This latest study isn’t good news for those who drink diet sodas regularly to help lose weight.