If you watch much TV, your are going to see commercials for zero calorie, zero sugar drinks. A few examples are Coke Zero, Pepsi Max and Powerade Zero. They all show, fit, active people enjoying the taste of their favorite beverage without any guilt…because there’s no calories! Woo Hoo!
It’s not a news flash that most American’s are overweight. In an effort to lose some of the unwanted pounds, a lot of people have turned to diet soda instead of the regular soda…which is understandable if you’ve ever read the nutrition label on a non-diet can of anything. Diet soda’s have been low or zero calories for a long time, but apparently people began to get the message that diet soda’s weren’t helping people lose weight. So now the marketing geniuses have introduced these “zero” drinks…and they are selling like crazy!
So what’s so bad about these new zero calories, zero sugar drinks? Stop and think about this for a minute. If you are drinking something other than water and it has zero calories, what exactly are you putting into your body?
The answer is not good. Let’s look at the ingredients in some of these drinks. We’ll start with Coke Zero:
Entire list of ingredients
Yummy! So let’s look at some of this stuff. Nothing wrong with carbonated water and although the caramel color is something artificial generated in a lab, it’s probably not all the bad for you. The one that you should be alarmed about is Asparame (aka NutraSweet). It’s an artificial sweetener/sugar substitute that’s considered by many experts to be one of the most dangerous food additives on the face of the earth! It’s frequently associated with cancer, neurological disorders (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), and other health issues in test animals. Read all about it here
. You can find some studies that show Aspartame is fine for human consumption, but if you do a little digging, you will see that all of the research that deemed it safe was funded by corporations with financial ties to Aspartame. Meanwhile, over 90% of the independent (non-corporate funded) research found that it was unsafe.
Aspartame happens to be found in these sodas, but all artificial sweeteners are bad, as I discussed here.
Aside from all of that good stuff, artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame have been shown to release gastric hormones when consumed – fooling your brain into thinking that there is food present, when there isn’t. This leads to an appetite craving around 30-60 minutes after the stuff hits your stomach. So by making you hungry shortly after drinking it, how exactly do these drinks help you lose weight?
We also find Phosphoric Acid in Coke Zero and Pepsi Max. Does acid sound tasty to you? Me neither. It dissolves tooth enamel (leading to cavities and yellow teeth), it damages your stomach lining (leading to ulcers), it damages your bones (leading to osteoporosis) and it upsets your body’s natural acid-alkaline balance.
What else do we have here, Potassium Benzoate. This is put in there to prevent the growth of yeast, mold and bacteria. You don’t want mold or bacteria in your soda, right? One potential problem with this stuff is that when combined with Vitamin C (which you consume in lots of fruits and vegetables and some of the zero calorie sports drinks), it forms benzene…which even the FDA acknowledges
I won’t go into “natural flavors”, but since no one regulates what can be called “natural”, there’s no telling what this actually is.
Just so I don’t seem biased, here are the ingredients in Pepsi Max:
Calcium Disodium EDTA
Panax Ginseng Extract
Notice that the first five ingredients are the same for both Coke Zero and Pepsi Max. In case you were unaware, ingredients on a nutrition label are listed in order of quantity. The higher on the list, the more of this ingredient there is in the food/drink.
I did notice that caffeine is higher up the list on the Pepsi product. A little research shows that Pepsi Max contains 69mg of caffeine – that’s almost double the amount found in regular Pepsi. Caffeine in itself is not dangerous in moderation, but if you feel the need to have a caffenated drink to stay awake and focused during the day, you have some underlying health problems that need to be addressed.
So what I’m trying to tell you is that no soda, regardless of calorie or sugar content is ever good/harmless for you or your health. That being said, if you eat a healthy diet and exercise, feel free to enjoy a soda once in a while, but you are better off drinking the “regular” stuff…with real sugar and a lot less chemicals!