That’s right, eating and drinking zero-calorie foods made with fat substitutes and artificial sweeteners is linked to weight gain. Researchers say these frankenfoods interfere with our body’s ability to regulate what we eat.
Here’s why: When you swallow that diet soda, the sweet taste makes your body anticipate the arrival of calories. And when the calories don’t show up, your body gets confused, and triggers your hunger response, sending you looking high and low for those missing calories—and often finding them in a snack bowl. Here’s a run-down of some popular zero-calorie foods you might want to think twice about, and one that might actually help you lose weight.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray claims to have zero calories. The ingredient list shows that it’s a mixture of soybean oil and water with thickeners, and artificial flavor enhancers. It also contains EDTA, which has been shown to interfere with nutrient absorption. But the real kicker is that this spray is only zero calories if you use 1 spray—Use 25 sprays and you’ve eaten 20 calories and 2 grams of fat. That means the whole bottle contains 904 calories and 90.4 grams of fat!
Walden Farms Products
Walden Farms offers a line of calorie-free dips, spreads, and sauces like peanut spread, chocolate syrup, marshmallow dip, pasta sauce, and mayo. Let’s take a look at the peanut dip for an example of what they consider preparing food “The Walden Way.” This peanut spread, meant to replace high-calorie peanut butter, contains water, vegetable fiber, salt, something called “natural fresh roasted peanut flavor,” and a bit of the artificial sweetener Splenda. In other words, this is not food. It’s artificial flavor, artificial sweetener, and salt. Imagine the confusion your body will be in when this hits your mouth and no calories are there to back it up.
Now here’s something a little different: Zero Noodles. These noodles are made from glucomannan fibre, which is made from a Japanese root plant called the Konjac plant. The claim is that these noodles are a replacement for rice and pastas that provides bulk and satiation without the calories. And there have been quite a few studies showing that glucomannan fibre might actually aid in weight loss and reduce LDL cholesterol. Apparently they are a little rubbery, so they might take some getting used to.
Regular soda is definitely not good for you, but you’re not doing your body any favors by choosing diet cola. One recent study from Johns Hopkins researchers found that people who drink diet beverages end up consuming more calories from food than people who drink regular soda or other sugary beverages.