The Atkins Diet remains a successful way for many people to lose weight. The low-carb plan limits the sugar and carbohydrates you consume from foods such as bread, pizza, pasta and refined sugars. Many low-carb sodas are available, so you can still drink the bubbly stuff while watching your weight.
Atkins is a type of ketogenic — or keto — diet used today to help people drop pounds and improve energy. You can use many common low-calorie sweeteners while eating low-carb and still successfully lose weight.
Usually, diet or low-carb sodas sweetened with sucralose, saccharin and stevia are OK on the Atkins diet. These include Diet Coke with Splenda and Pepsi Zero.
About the Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet is a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. It consists of four phases, the first of which is most restrictive in terms of how many carbs you can eat. This first phase of the diet restricts you to just 20 grams of carbs per day — calculated as net carbs. Net carbs are total carbohydrates in a food minus the fiber and any sugar alcohols or glycerin.
The first phase is designed to put you into a state of ketosis, in which you burn more fat rather than glycogen, or sugar, stored in your muscles. When you consume very few carbs for a period of time, your body can no longer use them as a main source of energy. In an effort to keep your body operating, your body starts to break down stored fat into ketone bodies — the process of ketosis, explains Harvard Health Publishing.
After phase 1, you move on to adding slightly more carbohydrates in phases 2 and 3. You'll also identify the maximum net carb level you can consume while maintaining your weight. By phase 4 of the Atkins Diet, you'll be in a maintenance phase and regularly consuming your maximum net carb level. This level is individual for everyone. But even though these phases allow more carbs than the first phase, fully sugared soda or other refined carbohydrates are not recommended.
Many people see quick results while following the Atkins plan and don't experience a lot of hunger. Exercise isn't necessary to losing weight, and many people find it sustainable for the long term.
Research published in Nutrients in August 2017 compared a number of weight-loss diets, including Atkins, the DASH diet, Mediterranean, Ornish, Paleo and Zone. Results found that the Atkins Diet resulted in the most meaningful short-term (less than six months) and long-term (longer than a year) weight loss.
Beverages on the Atkins Diet
In all of the phases of the Atkins Diet, sugary drinks that include soda, lemonade, sweetened iced tea, fruit juices and sugared energy drinks are off-limits. These drinks are high in carbohydrates and force you over your limit, even in later stages when you're allowed more than 20 grams.
For example, one 12-ounce can of cola contains about 38 grams of carbohydrate. When you're restricted to 20 grams of carbs total per day, this drink is definitely off-limits.
Drinks acceptable on the Atkins diet include club soda, herbal tea (unsweetened), black coffee and flavored seltzer. Water of all kinds, including tap, spring and mineral, are allowed.
You can drink diet soda on Atkins as long as you avoid any with carbohydrates. The non-nutritive sweeteners explicitly allowed by the Atkins Diet are stevia, sucralose and saccharin. The program advises you have just one packet of any one of these sweeteners per day and that they count as 1 gram of carbs on your plan.
The Atkins Diet makes no specific mention of aspartame as a sweetener. Aspartame doesn't raise blood sugar levels like sugar does and doesn't contain carbohydrates, explains the International Food Information Council Foundation. This should make sodas sweetened with aspartame OK for the Atkins plan. As always, though, remember to check the label for added carbs.
Sodas to Avoid
Of course, you avoid sugar-sweetened sodas and those with added fruit juice because they'll have carbohydrates. Also, don't be confused by Coca-Cola Life or Pepsi True. These drinks are marketed as "light" or "low-sugar" options, but they still contain sugar and contain 17 grams of carbohydrate. These are not allowed on Atkins.
List of Diet Sodas Allowed
Many types of diet or low-carb sodas are acceptable on the Atkins Diet, for example, Diet Coke, Diet Coke with Splenda and Coke Zero. Pepsi products such as Diet Pepsi, Diet Pepsi with Splenda and Pepsi Zero are also OK.
Zevia products also contain zero carbohydrates, making them a possible choice if you need a fizzy, sweet drink. Zevia products are all sweetened with stevia, a plant that contains steviol glycosides, which are naturally sweet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (and Atkins) approves of stevia as a sweetener with zero calories and carbohydrates.
Alcohol on Atkins
If you're thinking about using diet soda as a mixer for alcohol on Atkins, remember to stick to low-carb spirits. Options such as vodka and gin have no carbs. Vodka and Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi or gin and diet tonic water are options.
But remember that alcohol can lower your inhibitions and cause you to veer from your low-carb plan. Research published in the April 2016 issue of Appetite affirms that alcohol consumption can lead to overeating episodes and recommends that alcohol intake be reduced (or cut) when you're trying to lose weight. Alcohol is particularly an issue for people who have compulsive eating tendencies.
Alcohol also adds extra calories without nutrients and can disturb sleep, which may interfere with weight loss. You also metabolize alcohol calories before any others, such as those from fat, protein and carbs. Research in Current Obesity Reports published in January 2015 noted that, if you frequently drink alcohol, it can stop the fat-burning process, resulting in the storage of calories as body fat.
- Atkins: "How Does a Low-Carb Diet Work?"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Ketogenic Diet: Is the Ultimate Low-carb Diet Good for You?"
- Nutrients: "Effects of Popular Diets Without Specific Calorie Targets on Weight Loss Outcomes: Systematic Review of Findings From Clinical Trials"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Diet Coke Can, 12 Fl. Oz."
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Beverages, Carbonated, Cola, Regular"
- International Food Information Council Foundation: "Everything You Need to Know About Aspartame"
- Coca-Cola Company: "What Is Coca-Cola Life?"
- Pepsico: "The Facts About Your Favorite Beverages"
- Zevia: "Products"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Has Stevia Been Approved by the FDA to Be Used As a Sweetener?"
- Atkins: "Can You Drink Alcohol on a Low-Carb Diet?"
- Appetite: "The Relationship of Alcohol Use to Weight Loss in the Context of Behavioral Weight Loss Treatment"
- Current Obesity Reports: "Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update"