Drinking diet beverages as part of a diet program might help you lose more weight than drinking water, a controversial new study reports. The new research, published Tuesday in the respected journal Obesity, has been criticized over its backing from the beverage industry. But the main finding — that diet drinks don’t sabotage weight-loss efforts — isn’t that surprising.
Researchers from the University of Colorado and Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education reported that people who consumed three or more diet drinks a week — not only soda but pre-mixed beverages with artificial sweeteners — as part of a structured weight-loss plan lost more weight over a three-month period compared to a group of dieters who drank only water.
People at two different sites, a total of 303 men and women, ages 21-65, participated in a 12-week randomized trial, meaning they were assigned to different groups to compare different treatments. The participants had a body mass index (BMI) ranging between 27 – 40 (considered overweight or obese).
The study compared self-reported water intake with self-reported water and diet drink intake. Both groups were free to consume foods containing low-calorie sweeteners.
The most unexpected observation was that the group consuming diet drinks lost nearly 30 percent more weight compared to the water-only group. The participants in the diet drink group reported a small decrease in weekly hunger.