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It’s time to stop thinking diet sodas and other low calorie drinks are better for you than their real deal counterparts. Why, you may be asking? It’s no surprise that diet beverages contain ingredients that are less than admirable and even chemically generated in some instances. Yet so many people still consume these low-calorie drinks on the daily, thinking that they’re curbing their sweet tooth urges and other food-related desires.
Little do they know, by indulging in said beverages, they’re heightening their chances at gaining weight, enhancing their sweet tooth cravings, and even put themselves at a higher risk for acquiring diabetes.
These diet foods and drinks are actually manipulating our brains into thinking it needs to burn more energy and quickly. Recent studies have shown that the body has evolved in such a way that when it has something sweet, it’s triggered into burning up those calories and using the energy to do so because in the case of nature, the sweeter the substance, the more energy it contains.
However, that’s not how diet sodas and low-cal drinks work. You’re not actually curbing your appetite or crushing that sugar craving my partaking in the ‘diet’ label fad. Then you have to take into consideration that not all diet products taste sweet, which further confuses the brain. By consuming these products, our brains are triggered into thinking there are fewer calories to burn than there actually are, thus slowing down your metabolic rate.
When your metabolism drops, it causes your body to store products that have been consumed but not properly metabolized as fat, a key finding of researchers at Yale University. Senior author and Professor Dana Small noted that not all calories are equal.
“A calorie is not a calorie. When sweet taste and energy are not matched, less energy is metabolized and inaccurate signals go to the brain,” Small said in an interview with The Sun.
Ultimately, this comes down to consumerism. Whatever is marketed and branded a certain way will be bought in the mindset that it will do as the package says. For instance, If a frozen meal is labeled “lean” or “smart”, you’re probably more likely to pick it up, thinking it’s the healthy choice.
The thing is, these diet foods are stuffed with massive amounts of sodium and other ingredients as fillers, that yes, you’re getting a lower calorie count, but as has been discussed, those calories aren’t reciprocated in the brain the way whole foods are, and your body can't properly break them down.
The next time you’re at the store or overhear a friend talking about diet foods, send some knowledge their way, and your own. Start reading labels, and remember: don’t believe everything commercialism tells you; they’re just trying to make a buck, not make you skinny.