Why all the Diet Coke Haters?

One strange thing I’m noticing, now that I’m about 140 Diet Cokes into this experiment, is that it seems like a lot of people have it out for Diet Cokes. Why the haters? But after two weeks of drinking 10 Diets a day, I have to report that sugared Coke was MUCH worse on my body. But, I’m sensing, from both consumers and researchers,  some kind of gut reaction that Diet must be bad. It’s like the opposite of the word “organic.” Organic = Good. Diet Soda = Bad.

Many readers this week have sent links to various research studies that claim diet soda still causes weight gain, or insulin resistance, or other disease – but when comparing the results of the studies to the known and quantifiable health dangers of sugared soda, this research on the dangers of Diet is thin, so to speak. The researchers in the studies admit causal difficulties; for example not factoring in caloric consumption in one study, and the fact, in a number of other studies, that people with obesity and related health issues are more likely to choose diet soda in the first place, blurring any increase in health problems in diet soda drinkers.

The research about changes in gut bacteria summarizes that the changes appeared individual, occurring in some people and not others.

The body’s insulin response to sugar is not individual. Everyone’s insulin rises when they eat sugar, the percent of population that reacts with weight gain and health problems is a monstrous majority.

Chemicals. Diet soda is just a mix of chemicals, many people point out. Sure, but they don’t appear related to health problems in the same way as insulin resistance. My favorite complaint about diet soda is that it is used to clean sinks in third world countries. The implication, of course, is that diet soda contains some powerful corrosive poison that is doing the same thing to your body as drain cleaner does to sinks. But it’s just not true. It’s the phosphoric acid and citric acid in the drink that works on some kinds of stains, but it does not damage your body in the same way. You regularly consume citric acid in fruit and phosphoric acid in dairy products, baking powder, and granola bars. It’s like saying that vinegar is bad for you because it can also dissolve the tarnish off an old penny. It’s true: leave a penny resting in a puddle of hot sauce next time you’re at Taco Bell and see it get clean. But that doesn’t mean the hot sauce is bad for you. Hot sauce is good for you; everyone knows that.

Take it with a grain of salt, since I’m only two weeks in, but here’s what I’m starting to think: Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.  Don’t let the very insubstantial research about how diet soda may not be as healthy as water stop you from quitting regular soda. The sugar is killing you. Get off it, even by substituting diet soda, and you will be healthier.

I’m only two weeks into drinking the diet soda, but I have gained NO weight. The caffeine is having a noticeable effect, but doesn’t seem to be a major issue for my physical stats. And, keep in mind, there are plenty of caffeine-free diet sodas. And phosphoric acid free, if you want. I’m just doing Diet Cokes to get a worst-case scenario.

And that scenario, so far, doesn’t appear as bad as the sugared soda scenario.

By this point in the regular, sugared, Coke test I had gained almost 15 pounds. How dangerous is that?


First Week of 10 Cokes a Day Completed

Okay, I drank 70 Diet Cokes this last week. And I feel good. I do go to the bathroom a lot, but the exercise is probably good for me. Okay, it’s a bit irritating, like a job to do, drinking 10 Diets, but it’s easier than digging ditches.

My weight is steady, at 168 lbs. I’m assuming my body fat hasn’t moved much either, staying around 10%. My fasting blood sugar, measured in the morning, also seems steady around 80 mg/dL.

Compared to drinking the regular sugared Cokes, drinking Diet Coke is easy. I’m not experiencing the feeling of fullness that I had when I drank the sugared Coke. I also feel that my energy levels are much steadier, and I don’t have the tiredness and carb cravings in the day as when I drank 10 regular Cokes.

On the other hand, the caffeine is really bothering me. Turns out Diet Coke has 10 mg more of caffeine than regular Coke.  42 mg vs 32 mg. But, still it’s only 420 mg of caffeine a day, and depending on the size of the coffees you drink, that could easily be only three or four cups of coffee. I normally drink 4 espressos a day, which actually have less caffeine than regular coffee, but I am still surprised that I’m getting so jittery and dehydrated drinking the Diet Cokes. The first few days last week I was still drinking Diets late in the afternoon, and I had trouble sleeping later.

Dehydrated, too. I worked outdoors at a trade show last week, and between the constant trips to the bathroom, the jitters, and dehydration, I didn’t love the experience. Back in the office now, however, I’m not feeling the dehydration as much, just enough to keep the Diet drinking going, and the bathroom is closer.

I’m maintaining my normal diet, which is generally low-carb, although I did have a couple pretty carby dinners in Nashville last week. Still, that behavior is basically in line with what I consider to be healthy eating; I ate just protein, eggs and sausage, at the hotel for breakfast, and had bunless hot dogs or sausage for lunch.

So, outwardly, not much is changing. I think by this time in the first Cokes experiment I had gained 6 pounds or so. That’s not happening now. But inwardly? Don’t know. I feel good. I gave seven vials of blood for the blood analysis that The Doctors TV Show gave me before I started. We’ll do the same tests after 30 days and see what’s happened inside.

A good friend on Facebook suggested that the Diet Cokes is actually worse for you than the regular Cokes, and I have to confess that, going into this experiment, I don’t agree. I believe that the health problems caused by high insulin levels due to sugar and carb intake are much, much more dangerous than even a chemical-filled menace like Diet Coke. Is water better than Diet Coke? Yes, probably, sure. But if the choice is between Diet and sugar – a billion dollars a minute in U.S. health care costs says that high insulin is very destructive, and Diet Coke doesn’t cause as much, if any, elevated insulin as regular Coke.

Of course there may be other issues, but I would say an unknown possibility far down the road wins over a known, and sure, damage to health right now.

So, here I go, into Week II.  Two more Diet Cokes today, and it’s four o’clock. I have to get to work.

Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system

June 5, 2014
University of Southern California
In the first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system, a study shows that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protect against immune system damage — a major side effect of chemotherapy — but also induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

Here’s the link:


Salt May Not Affect Heart Risks

Check out this article in the New York Times, upending one of the biggest dietary ideas of our time: that you need to limit salt to treat your high blood pressure. Turns out, not so much.

Ironically, you actually treat high blood pressure by reducing sugars, and grains. Oops.


A new study suggests that dietary salt may have little or no effect on the risk for heart disease in older adults.

The study, in JAMA Internal Medicine, included 2,642 people, average age 74. Half the participants were women, 62 percent were white and 38 percent were African-American. All were free of heart disease at the start of the study, and researchers followed them for 10 years. They used dietary questionnaires to estimate sodium intake.

The researchers adjusted for sex, race, body mass index and more than two dozen other health and behavioral characteristics. Over a range of sodium intake from less than 1,500 milligrams a day to more than 2,300 (about a teaspoon), there was no significant difference in risk for cardiovascular disease, heart failure or death.

The lead author, Dr. Andreas P. Kalogeropoulos, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University, acknowledged that estimates of salt intake were based on self-reports, which are not always reliable.

Current guidelines call for sodium intake of less than 1,500 milligrams a day for people older than 51. Dr. Kalogeropoulos said he saw no reason to raise the number.

“We need more prospective evidence in a clinical trial before moving in that direction for older adults,” he said. “By no means are our findings a license to consume more salt.”

Another keto tune-up.

Started another keto tune-up today: Had buttered coffee for breakfast, ham and liver pate for lunch, and am planning on just having a burger for dinner. Also made sure to eat plenty of butter and coconut oil in my coffee all day, to get my body as quickly into ketosis as possible. I’ll measure my ketosis level with my ketostix tonight and in the morning and see how long it takes for ketosis to start after eliminating carbs.
It is possible to maintain ketosis while eating carbs, especially the green leafy variety, but it’s easier for me to start ketosis by going zero carb for about two days.
Why am I doing it? A health tune-up, that’s all. The human body is meant to work in ketosis part of the time, and that’s what I do. Keeps insulin resistance down, weight under control, blood pressure low, and fights disease.

How to eat keto at a food truck

So, here’s an example of how to do a low-carb lunch, eating out. In this case, this afternoon, the restaurant was a food truck.

Order a foot-long Polish sausage, apply a bit of mayonnaise and a slice or three of jalapeno, and then don’t eat the bun.

It tasted real good. I was full and satisfied. Homemade mayonnaise usually doesn’t have sugar in it, but store-bought has some. Still, as condiments go, it’s mainly fat and protein.

Mustard works, too. Keep it enjoyable and you’ll keep it going.

I think the food truck guy saw it as a waste of a perfectly-toasted bun.

Diet Soda on Keto diet

Can I drink diet soft drinks while I’m doing a low-carb or keto diet? It’s a big question.

In general, I say, Yes, absolutely! There are, of course, some early studies which describe an effect on the microbes in your digestive system whendrinking artificially sweetened soda. And those studies may prove important; we are just beginning to understand how bacteria in our gut affects our diet.

But, that said, don’t worry about those studies. No researcher denies that sugared soda raises your blood sugar and insulin levels in a crazy way that diet sodas do not. At all. Forget it.

For people who are switching from sugared sodas, or people, like me, who get tired of water all day, diet soft drinks are a nice treat, with few drawbacks.

If you want to stay as natural as you can with sweeteners, you can try a Stevia-sweetened drinks, like the soda in this picture: Zevia.

Stevia is a “natural” sweetener which doesn’t raise your insulin levels or cause a glucose response, and Zevia has a whole rainbow of flavors.

I just drank a case of these, which – full disclosure – Zevia sent me because I’m obviously a soda expert, but I really liked a few of the flavors. I saw them for sale at my local Sprouts supermarket, and I plan to mix them in with my coffee and water at the office.

The Keto Drinking Man’s Diet

Here’s an interesting and enjoyable version of a Keto Diet, which features, basically, regular or occasional drinking while being in ketosis. Lose weight and feel, um, tipsy.

But how can drink and stay in ketosis? By drinking only clear hard alcohol like vodka or tequila. I speak for dark liquors personally, I’ve only tried this with vodka. When you drink beer, wine, or a sweetened mixed drink, the carb calories are probably enough to throw you right out of ketosis, so if you want to be in ketosis you can’t drink beer. But you probably guessed that.

But the vodka only “pauses” your ketosis. The methanol in the vodka is converted to usable energy in your liver immediately,  and when it’s used up, the liver goes right back to making ketones out of body fat reserves.

It was kind of amazing the first few times I  tried it, but here’s how it goes: Last night, tested myself after work in heavy ketosis with my ketostix, then had a couple vodka and diet sodas over the evening. Tested myself before bed – out of ketosis. But this morning, I woke up and tested, and I was back in the dark purple heavy ketosis ketostix reading. Pretty cool.

Now there’s NO reason not to go into ketosis regularly.

I’ve lost almost all the weight

More solid weight loss. Weighed in at 172 this morning, so I’ve got four pounds to lose in five days to lose all the weight in 30 days.

Seems possible. Just. I’m living on bulletproof coffee all day – just coffee with butter and coconut oil, and then having a normal dinner. Seems to work fine, and the oils keep me from feeling hungry all day.

I love this method of dieting because I can eat basically whatever I want to in the evening. Last night I had a burger and a beer. And in the daytime my energy is good and my mood is good and i’m not hungry. What’s happening is that I’m going all night and most of the next day without carbs, so I am giving myself prolonged episodes of low insulin, and all during those low insulin times my body isn’t storing fat, just using fat. And even when I eat carbs at dinner, I’m doing it without insulin resistance, so the peaks of insulin I get are lower and less damaging.

It’s going to be nip and tuck. 5 more days. Try a bulletproof coffee breakfast yourself.

Six Pounds of Weight Loss to Go

175 lbs. Half pound weight drop, but here’s what’s REALLY interesting:
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’d heard, from my Paleo brother, that drinking hard alcohol while in Ketosis doesn’t stop and ruin the ketosis like drinking a beer would, requiring additional time to restart it, the alcohol just pauses the ketosis while the body uses the alcohol for energy and then continues.

So, last night I had a vodka martini, and measured my ketosis with the Ketostix: Sure enough. Gone. No ketosis.

But this morning I measured again and I was back in ketosis, and at the highest level I have yet achieved. I love that stuff! (The information and experimentation, I mean, not the vodka.)

So, I’ve got six pounds to still lose. I was hoping to do it by this Friday, but that’s not looking likely, as my average weight loss is about a pound a day.

Just to prove that I don’t only eat steaks, here’s a photo of my lunch, of smoked salmon and deli ham. Salmon is great for ketosis because it has lots of fat, which supports your energy levels and is just great for you all around. The mustard is about as carb-free as condiments get. Except home-made mayonnaise.

Jump in. Try this experiment: Just eat carb free until dinner, and then eat what you want. Breakfast and lunch just proteins and fats, and then dinner is whatever you want. Try it for a couple days.