Think your diet soda is helping you lose weight? Think again!

At first glance, replacing a regular soft drink with a diet soda seems like a no-brainer. After all, most regular sodas average 150 calories per 12-ounce serving, so a zero-calorie soda is pretty appealing. But the truth is that with every diet soda you drink, you may be negatively affecting your brain’s ability to determine satiety and stop you from wanting to eat even more food.

Any time you put anything sweet in your mouth your body’s biochemistry prepares to get busy digesting sugar. But some scientists believe that, over time, continued consumption of diet sodas continues to reduce your brain’s ability to decide you’ve had enough.

A recent study was conducted at the University of California-San Diego, where participants were given small amounts of water with either sucralose or sugar prior to having an MRI scan. The MRI results showed that the sugar drink activated parts of the brain that register a food reward, while the sucralose did not. According to the researchers, sucralose “may not fully satisfy a desire for natural caloric sweet ingestion,” while the sugar delivers a positive feeling of reward resulting in satiety.

During and after menopause every calorie counts even more than it did in your twenties and thirties, so it makes sense to do everything you can to keep your brain and tummy satisfied while keeping your caloric intake down.

Low calorie alternatives to diet sodas:

Cut slices of citrus and add them to a drink, along with a drizzle of honey to create your own flavored water.

Freeze 100% fruit juice, like cranberry or grape juice, in an ice tray and add a cube or two to a glass of water or tonic water. You’ll enjoy the flavor of the juice as the cubes melt, and you’ll be taking in far fewer calories than a regular soda.

Enjoy a nice cup of green tea instead of diet soda. There are many flavors of green tea that can be enjoyed hot or iced, plus green tea has the benefit of helping lower cholesterol as well as aid in the prevention of many heart-related problems.