If you were to ask 1,000 people why they drink diet soda and other drinks with artificial sweeteners, I expect the vast majority (if not all) would tell you it’s because they are “watching their weight” and these products have no calories.

While it is true that diet sodas have no calories, it has never been proven that they help with weight loss. In fact, as I have reported in this space before, many studies have clearly shown that diet soda may do the exact opposite: make people gain weight.

Recently, epidemiologist Sharon Fowler, from the University of Texas, presented research data to the American Diabetes Association on soda consumption. In her words, “What we saw was that the more diet sodas a person drinks, the more weight they were likely to gain.” In a CBS news article, nutritionist Melainie Rogers describes the same findings in her work with obese patients.

There are several theories as to why this is the case. Some think it is psychological – that diet soda drinkers eat more because they feel they can “spare” the extra calories. Others point to the fact that artificially sweetened drinks tend to increase the appetite unnaturally. And many believe it could be because aspartame and sucralose disrupt insulin function.

One thing we know for sure is that these products can be harmful to your health. So whether or not you’re trying to lose weight, my advice is to avoid artificial sweeteners and “diet drinks” entirely.

For a healthier alternative, mix an ounce or two of fruit juice (or, even better, low-sugar fruit-juice concentrate, which you can find at just about any health food store) with sparkling water. To make it a bit sweeter, add a few drops of all-natural stevia.

Jon Herring is the former Health Editor and copywriter for Early To Rise. While his formal education is in finance, Jon has invested over 3000 hours in the study of health and nutrition. He is deeply motivated to provide people with the information and the inspiration to live a long and active life, filled with energy and free from disease. Jon has also been a student of direct sales and marketing since an early age. Before he was 10 years old, he was selling door to door, and he has been an active entrepreneur ever since. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1993, Jon moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he learned how to build houses, climb mountains, catch trout, and ski fast down hill. However, after several years of poverty with a nice view, Jon returned to his hometown of Nashville to seek his fortune. Within two years – at the age of 26 – he had started a direct marketing business that was earning six figure annual revenues. In addition to his passion for health, Jon has a strong interest in business and investing. He is also a staunch advocate for honest government and the libertarian values of privacy, freedom, and personal responsibility.