Will Cutting Out Soda Make You Lose Weight?
“Will Cutting Out Soda Make You Lose Weight?” was written by soon-to-be-Registered Dietitian Samantha Kane and edited by Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, DCN, RDN, FAND.
The hard truth is that there is no magic fat-burning food or a single ingredient that guarantees weight loss.
On the bright side, though, specific foods can make it much easier to lose weight due to their caloric density and nutrient composition.
Foods filled with protein, fiber, and fat are generally more satiating, which helps you feel fuller for longer. The problem with soda is that it has NONE of these three things!
What’s more, soda is easy to consume but doesn’t fill you up. In fact, after drinking soda, you’re likely to want more.
How Much Weight Can You Lose by Cutting Soda?
To provide some real numbers, let’s say you have two 20-ounce sodas per day. That equates to 480 empty calories in a single day!
Mathematically speaking, cutting out soda can save you 3,360 calories every week.
Science tells us that to lose one pound, you need to cut 3,500 calories. So, if all other foods and drinks stay the same, you drop enough calories to lose one pound a week just by cutting out two 20-ounces cans of soda per day.
Of course, it’s essential to remember that weight loss has many causes, and cutting one single food is not a magic solution.
Soda Might Not Turn Off Hunger Cues
Soda has zero nutritional benefits and probably will not turn off lingering hunger cues. In fact, the sugar content in soda actually makes it hard to consume in moderation because it fails to lower the hunger hormone ghrelin.
A recent study compared the effects of drinking beverages containing either sucrose (a combination of glucose and fructose), as found in soda, or glucose.
Participants gave blood samples at 10, 35, and 120 minutes after drinking the sugary beverages. Researchers found that people who consumed drinks containing sucrose produced less of the hormones that suppress hunger.
What this means is that after drinking soda, you will not have that feeling of satisfaction. So, you can easily eat a full meal after drinking 240 calories (which is only one bottle)!
This will put you into that cycle of eating too many calories and gaining weight.
The Sugar in Soda
One 20-ounce soda has 65 grams of sugar or 15 teaspoons. If you are consuming 2000 calories a day, that’s 13% of your total caloric intake. Unless you’re a man — on a taller side — you consumed all your discretionary calories on one bottle of soda. So, you’re done eating sugar for the day.
Soda Consumption Can be Habit Forming
Soda has a satisfying taste and fizz that draws people to drink more and more.
The intense sugar and caffeine rush activated from the pop of a soda immediately activates the reward center in our brains. This can make us feel very happy and content.
However, with intense sugar rushes, there is a corresponding crash. This leaves our bodies physically AND mentally craving more sweet foods and drinks to regenerate that pleasurable sensation.
With regard to caffeine-stimulated cravings, this mainly works in two ways: caffeine prevents the brain from signaling exhaustion and it supports the release of other natural stimulants in the body.
After the caffeine is absorbed, the body longs for this elevated feeling once again. You will be left craving more caffeine to recreate that heightened sensation.
What About Diet Soda?
While diet soda may seem like a tempting solution, it’s not the optimal choice it seems when you’re trying to cut back on calories and lose weight.
Some studies have proven that artificial flavors like aspartame and sucralose that are used to sweeten diet sodas can leave you craving sugar-laden foods.
You would have to exercise even more discipline throughout the day if you’re replacing real food with artificial flavorings that drive up cravings.
So What Can You Drink Instead of Soda?
We have highlighted some fantastic resources that can help replace soda’s sugar and caffeine content while also creating some extra goodness for your body.
Store-Bought Soda Alternatives
If you’re looking for a store-bought alternative to replace soda, there are plenty of options available.
Probiotic soda makes a great replacement for sugary drinks for several reasons. First, they have grown an impressive reputation for being a tasty source of prebiotics while maintaining the ultimate “fizz factor” for satisfying taste.
Prebiotics, along with probiotics, have a positive impact on gut health, which in turn can help with weight management.
Overall prebiotic sodas are low in calories and added sugar. For example, a 12-oz can of the prebiotic soda Olipop has 9 grams of dietary fiber, 2-5 grams of sugar, and less than 45 calories.
Prebiotics is sold in many grocery stores nationwide and can also be ordered directly online.
Sparkling water is another hydrating option to replace soda and is available in many different flavors. These flavored waters are carbonated, sodium free, and contain only natural flavors. There are no sugars, sweeteners, or artificial ingredients added.
There are so many unique flavors, with new ones reaching supermarket shelves regularly. Flavored sparkling water is sold in most grocery stores, restaurants, and even gas stations. Because of this, it’s very accessible to most consumers.
Try mixing your sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice or lime for extra flavor and beneficial nutrients.
Flavored Still Water
If you don’t like the carbonated fizz of sparkling water, flavored water is also available in still form. It’s hydrating and doesn’t have the added sugars and calories that soda contains.
Sipping flavored water is ideal when you don’t like the bland taste of plain water or if you just want a chance. It will keep you hydrated throughout the day while providing a deliciously satisfying taste.
Flavored waters can be found everywhere, from grocery stores to gas stations, making them extremely accessible and affordable.
Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented drink. It can be slightly sweet, depending on the flavor. You can find fruity, floral, or herbal varieties.
Kombucha is an excellent soda replacement for weight loss.
First, it’s lower in both sugar and calories but still offers a hint of caffeine for energy.
Second, it has probiotic properties that support strong gut health. A healthy gut promotes better absorption of nutrients and reducing cravings.
Making alternative drinks at home in a way that tastes great is a great step toward replacing a soda habit. You can also make it fun while you enjoy knowing exactly what ingredients you’re consuming.
You can leave these drinks in the fridge for several hours before consuming them for maximum flavor.
Make Your Own Soda
Investing in something like a Soda Stream* may be worth it if you’re committed to replacing soda for the long term.
You simply pour regular tap water into the machine, and it creates classic carbonated water right in the comfort of your home. You can also add Soda Stream’s Bubly Flavoring Drops* to enhance the taste.
*As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Always a favorite! Simply add lemon juice and a tablespoon of sugar (optional) to a glass of plain sparkling water. It is absolutely delicious, refreshing, and satisfying. Try swapping out the lemon juice with lime for a zingy update to an old classic.
Naturally Flavored Water
You can make your own spa water at home by combining it with natural fruits, herbs, and spices. This is a great way to add flavor without any of the unhealthy, calorie-rich sugar.
Cucumber Spa Water
- Water, chilled
- Sliced cucumbers
- Fresh lemon squeeze to taste
- 3-5 leaves of fresh basil
Add all ingredients to a jar, stir, and leave in the fridge for one to six hours before drinking.
- A handful of blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries
- Lemon squeeze to taste
Add all ingredients to a jar, stir, and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour before drinking. Berries don’t last as long as other fruits or vegetables in water.
Melon & Mint Energizer
- ¼ of watermelon, cubed
- 5-7 mint leaves to taste
Add all ingredients to a jar, stir, and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour before drinking
The Bottom Line
Soda alone doesn’t cause weight gain directly. But its properties do make it easier to gain weight since it’s a major source of empty calories and contains artificial flavorings that are known to cause cravings in some people.
Try replacing soda with more healthy alternatives that do the following:
- Provide MORE nutrients with FEWER calories
- Hydrate and nourish your metabolic processes
- Instill a good habit that can be enjoyed
- Give you a great taste and a joyful feeling
Ultimately, these newfound health routines have the potential to do more than just lead to weight loss. They also promote healthy lifestyle habits that support your body’s every move so you can live a life filled with greater energy and vitality.
And that sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?
Will cutting out soda make you lose weight? Find out how drinking soda affects cravings and try our recipes for delicious and healthy alternatives to soda.
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL. She is passionate about helping women over 40 live their best lives through healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. Su-Nui is a doctor in clinical nutrition, able to translate complicated evidence-based science into practical advice. Su-Nui is the former spokesperson of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.