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How to Drink Smarter

Soda and Weight Gain — The Dangers of Drinking Soda Pop

Evidence shows that soda, regular and diet, contributes to weight gain. Discover how carbonated beverages and weight gain are connected. Plus, gain a few tips about how to sip smarter.

couple with bikes drinking water

Soda contributes to weight gain primarily through its high content of added sugars and empty calories. Generally, the excessive consumption of sugary sodas leads to an intake of more calories than the body requires for its daily energy needs. These added sugars are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a spike in insulin levels, which can promote fat storage.

Moreover, liquid calories from sodas do not provide the same satiety or feeling of fullness as solid food, leading to an increased likelihood of overeating in addition to the calories obtained from the beverages. 

Countless Studies Link Soda Consumption with Weight Gain and Obesity

Sugar is what makes soda so addicting. The sweetness delivers a quick reward to centers of the brain that release dopamine and offer a slight feeling of euphoria. This causes individuals to crave more and more of it, despite it's ultimately negative impact on the body.

In a 2013 study, researchers looked at the correlation between soft drink consumption and obesity. They evaluated data collected from 75 countries and found a 1% increase in soft drink consumption was associated with a 4.8% increase in being overweight or obese among adults. 

A more recent study from 2020 was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. It looked again at the effects of soft drinks on weight. Researchers found that one soft drink serving per day was associated with a .10 kg increase in weight per year — even among those who exercised regularly. 

Diet Soda isn’t ‘Diet Friendly’

Contrary to their name, diet sodas aren’t very diet-friendly. A 2013 study in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism found that:

…accumulating evidence suggests that frequent consumers of these sugar substitutes may also be at increased risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Similarly, in 2015, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society looked at the effects of diet soda on abdominal fat. Researchers found that individuals who consumed diet soda nearly tripled their abdominal fat compared to those who didn’t drink diet sodas. 

And it’s not just adults who are affected by diet sodas. In May 2016, researchers looked at the effects of diet soda consumption among pregnant women and their infants. Published in the JAMA Pediatrics, the study showed that expecting mothers who frequently consumed diet beverages were two times more likely to have overweight or obese babies one year after birth. While this study doesn’t prove artificial sweeteners are the direct cause, it does point to a definite correlation. 

Plain Carbonated Water May Also Contribute to Weight Gain

Those looking to ditch both sugar-loaded and diet soda often turn to calorie-free carbonated water as a ‘healthy’ alternative. Unfortunately, research suggests that plain carbonated water can also contribute to weight gain. 

A 2017 study published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that the carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages may induce a ghrelin release, increasing food consumption. It’s important to note that the results don’t indicate the beverage is to blame directly. Rather, it’s the chemical effect it has on the body which leads to overeating.

Finding ways to make soda water extra special when you do choose to drink it can transform this 'simple' water into a celebratory drink.

Drinking Carbonated Water Occasionally and How to Spruce it Up

While research suggests that any carbonated water can contribute to weight gain, so can wine, and cookies, and Thanksgiving stuffing. Evidence shows that dieting, especially extreme dieting, typically backfires. Rather than a restrictive diet, think of carbonated water as a treat.

Better yet, take the time to consider and appreciate the treat. In 2022, The New York Times challenged readers to “start practicing awareness by slowing down and thinking about what you’re eating [and drinking] and why you’re eating it.” The challenge’s intent is to “focus on the tastes and textures of food, and how you feel before, during and after eating,” so that you can reshape your habits and improve your health.

When you do drink carbonated beverages, look for healthy, natural ways to spruce them up.

3 Healthy, Natural Ways to Make Drinks Fun

1. A Splash of Unsweetened Fruit Juice

Unsweetened fruit juice doesn’t have added sugars that can cause huge insulin spikes. Adding a splash to your carbonated water can give the fizzy drink a fun twist without refined sucrose.

2. Go Savory with Herbs 

Want to skip the sugar altogether? Add one or two fresh herbs to your carbonated water. Mint is a classic winner. Rosemary and sage are also a hit, especially during the winter months. 

3. Dress it Up with Fruit

Looking for some pizazz? Add some fruit to your drink. A few blueberries, slices of strawberry, or bright cranberries can be both visually pleasing and add a hint of flavor to your drink.

Medically Supervised Weight Loss

One of the most difficult aspects of trying to lose weight is sorting through all the different advice. The internet is FULL of weight loss advice, much of which is based on restrictive diets and hyped up workout plans that offer short-term gains and long-term backsliding.

At Premier Integrative, our Medically Supervised Weight Loss program treats you as an individual. Our doctors work directly with you to uncover and treat the root cause of your weight gain so that you can shed the pounds for good.

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