Are sugar free carbonated drinks bad for you? Go sugar free

Are sugar free carbonated drinks bad for you? Go sugar free

by Sarah Spence

Sugar is a major factor in some of the biggest health problems of our times.

A review of 50 years of research has shown that refined carbohydrates (aka sugar), especially sugar-sweetened beverages, can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.

While other research has shown links between sugar and:

But reducing your sugar intake (or going completely sugar-free) doesn’t just help to reduce your risk of disease. It might also:

In this article, we’ll answer the burning question on everyone’s lips… are sugar free carbonated drinks bad for you?

We’ll also take a look at some of the benefits of going sugar free and give you our top tips to kick the sugar habit.

Are sugar free carbonated drinks bad for you?

When you want to reduce your sugar intake, it might seem natural to swap out your regular soft drink for a sugar free alternative to give you a sweetness hit.

But be aware: not all sugar free carbonated drinks are created equal.

Research suggests that some of the artificial sweeteners present in popular sugar free soft drinks can have nasty effects on your health. For example, anything with sucralose can reduce your insulin sensitivity and do a number on your gut flora.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re reaching for a sugar free carbonated drink, avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, saccharine and neotame. Instead, always look for 100% natural, sugar free sweeteners like erythritol and stevia.

Sugar free: what are the benefits?

Sugar free benefit #1 - reduce your risk of serious, long term health issues

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the more added sugar in your diet, the higher your risk of disease. One 2014 study tracked participants over 15 years, and put them into two groups:

  • those who got 25% or more of their calories from added sugar
  • those who got 10% or less of their calories from added sugar

People in the 25+% group were twice as likely to die from heart disease as people in the 10% or less group. And other studies have also linked too much added sugar to diabetes, obesity and fatty liver disease.

Sugar free benefit #2 – make your hormones happier

When you eat something with sugar in it, your body releases insulin: the hormone that carries sugar into your cells to use for energy. Think of insulin as the ‘taxi’ that gives the sugar your cells need a ride across the cell wall.

The problem is that when you keep pumping sugar into your body, your insulin levels continually spike. This can lead to inflammation, which can be responsible for a whole host of nasties – including skin wrinkles and breakouts.

Plus, it may suppress another hormone, BDNF, which helps to regulate your mood.

In other words, reducing your added sugar intake (or going completely sugar free) could mean better skin and better mood.

When you put it that way, it’s a no brainer.

Sugar free benefit #3 - get steadier energy and better focus

Large blood sugar spikes give you a quick burst of energy, so it’s no wonder that sweet treat is so tempting at 3pm.

But a sharp crash can follow the spike – which can mean trouble concentrating, more hunger, headaches, crankiness and all sorts of other icky symptoms.

This can create a vicious cycle that just keeps you looking for the next hit.

Replacing those sweet, sugar-laden carbonated drinks and snacks with something high in proteins and fats can help you avoid the crashes. As a result, you’ll level out your energy over the day, which can leave you feeling better and more focussed in the long run.

Sugar free benefit #4 - reduce anxiety

Those dips and spikes in blood sugar don’t just impact your energy. They can also do a serious number on your anxiety levels.

Those jittery feelings you get when you experience a blood sugar low can make existing anxiety issues worse.

Sugar free benefit #5 - improve your gut function

Remember the inflammation we talked about earlier? Well, its effects don’t stop with your skin. Inflammation can also have a nasty effect on your digestive system.

Plus, sugar doesn’t digest as efficiently as other nutrients which can cause an imbalance in your gut flora.

Going sugar free to improve your gut health? Sounds like it’s worth a try.

3 top tips to reduce added sugar

OK, we’ve convinced you to give sugar free a go and see which rewards you reap. Or maybe you just want to ‘dip your toe in the water’, and try reducing the added sugar in your diet.

Either way, there are whole programs out there to help you beat sugar. But you can certainly go it alone with the right info.

Here are a few quick, simple tips to get you started.

1. Search the labels for hidden sugar

You’ve cleared out the cookie jar, and sworn off chocolate, lollies, cakes and pastries. But what about canned peas, tomato sauce and takeaway pizza?

It’s important to know that some of the worst ‘added-sugar culprits’ are foods you’d never think contained it. If you buy packaged foods, read the labels and learn about where sugar likes to hide.

2. Switch out the worst offenders

Research shows that replacing a bad habit with a better one is usually easier than trying to stop the same bad habit cold turkey.

So try swapping out your high-sugar breakfast cereal for some equally delicious avo-and-eggs on sourdough toast. Or, if you’re used to having a sweet dessert after dinner, try a herbal tea or a naturally sweet, sugar free drink instead. (Check out our delicious range).

3. Make meal prep and home cooking your friend

Hidden sugar is almost everywhere you look (sushi rice: we see you). That means sugar free eating on the go can become a challenge.

Make sure you’re prepared for it by:

  • meal planning in advance
  • bulk prepping meals
  • having fun with home cooking (like making your own sugar free tomato sauce)

Having tasty, satisfying home-cooked food available when you’re hungry will make your sugar free journey so much easier.

Ready for the benefits of sugar free (without giving up the sweetness)?

Sarah Spence
Sarah Spence


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