How diet soda leads to overeating

I understand the temptation.

It's a hot summer day and you want something cool and refreshing -- so you do something you know you shouldn't.

You reach for a soda.

Hey, it's only one soda, right? How could that possibly hurt?

The answer is plenty. A sugar-sweetened soda is a can full of empty calories and damaging chemicals.

And believe it or not, diet soda is even worse.

That's right. As bad as regular soda is, the supposedly "healthy alternative" can do even more damage to your body, as new research shows how artificial sweeteners can change your brain's response to food.

When you drink a soda sweetened with sugar, some calories come along with it.

They're not good calories. Heck, they're some of the worst around.

But they're calories, and your brain knows it. It knows you've been fed, and sends out the signal that you can stop eating or drinking because you've got some energy.

That doesn't happen with fake sugars.

When you get a sweet treat with no calories, your brain seems to go into panic mode, according to the study. Instead of signaling STOP eating, it does just the opposite.

In fact, the study on mice and fruit flies finds that artificial no-calorie sweeteners can trigger some of the same pathways in the brain that play a role in starvation.

Instead of STOP eating, your body gets the signal to eat everything it can.

As a result, both the flies and mice ate all they could, with the flies gorging on 30 percent more calories than they did without the artificial sweetener.

Don't dismiss this because it's a study on fruit flies and mice.

Take a look around you. It's almost impossible to find anyone who switched to diet soda and lost weight.

Many gained it instead!

Studies confirm what you can see, with research published last year showing that people who drink diet soda eat more… and just like those rats and fruit flies, it's because the brain is "tricked" by the fake sugar.

In that study, people ate 69 extra calories per day when they drank diet soda, a small amount but enough to add up to seven pounds a year in weight gain for someone with a daily habit.

This doesn't mean "real" soda is better.

It means to avoid ALL soft drinks -- because they're all bad for you, no matter how they're sweetened.

If you're looking to cool down on a hot day, try filtered ice water instead. For a little flavor, either infuse it with fruit or brew some herbal tea.