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Is 1 soda a day OK for weight loss?

Soda is a sugary drink that many people enjoy on a regular basis. However, if you are trying to lose weight, you may wonder if you need to eliminate soda completely or if having just 1 soda per day can fit into a healthy weight loss plan.

This article reviews how soda affects weight loss and provides tips on how to enjoy soda in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

How does soda affect weight loss?

There are a few ways that drinking soda can influence weight loss:


Soda contains added sugar and provides empty calories without any vitamins, minerals, or fiber. A 12-ounce (335-mL) can of regular cola contains about 140 calories and 39 grams of added sugar.

Drinking just 1 soda per day provides an extra 140 calories, which can add up over time. Cutting out 1 soda per day could save you 140 calories and 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of fat over the course of a year.


The added sugar in soda does not satisfy hunger and can even make you hungrier. Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda trigger the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which may boost appetite.

Studies show that sugary drinks like soda increase hunger and calorie intake later in the day compared to drinks that contain no calories.


Frequent soda intake is linked to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Features of metabolic syndrome include increased blood sugar, belly fat, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Some research also indicates that consuming liquid calories from soda may lead to decreased metabolism compared to getting the same calories from solid foods. This may negatively impact weight loss.

Nutrient intake

Soda has been associated with poor diet quality. Soda drinkers tend to have higher intakes of added sugars, calories, and fat, in addition to lower intakes of important nutrients like protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins A and C.

Replacing nutrient-dense beverages like milk and 100% fruit juice with soda can make it challenging to get all of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need while staying within your daily calorie needs for weight loss.

Potential benefits of cutting out soda

Eliminating soda can benefit weight loss in several ways:

Fewer liquid calories

Cutting out just 1 soda per day could save you around 50,000 calories per year. This creates a calorie deficit that can contribute to weight loss over time.

Decreased sugar intake

The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 100 calories per day for women and 150 calories for men. One can of soda can max out the recommended intake.

Decreasing your intake of added sugars from soda may help reduce blood sugar spikes, inflammation, and belly fat.

Increased intake of healthy beverages

Eliminating soda makes room for other beverages like water, unsweetened tea, and coffee. Increasing your intake of water is especially beneficial for weight loss.

One study found that drinking 34 ounces (1 liter) of water increased metabolism by 30% for up to 1.5 hours. Other research shows that drinking water before meals can aid weight loss by reducing calorie intake.

Improved diet quality

Cutting out soda encourages drinking more nutritious beverages and making healthier food choices. People who drink soda tend to have a lower intake of important nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and protein.

Downsides of cutting out soda completely

While limiting soda is generally beneficial for weight loss and health, there are some potential downsides to consider:

Difficulty sticking to it

Completely eliminating soda may be challenging if you are used to drinking it regularly. Cutting it out cold turkey can be tough.

Decreased enjoyment

You may miss the taste of your favorite soda or find that you crave it, especially when eating certain foods you used to pair it with like pizza or fast food.

Social challenges

Saying no to soda can be difficult in social situations or when others around you are drinking it.

Increase other high-calorie drinks

Cutting out soda could potentially lead to replacing it with other sugary drinks like fruit juice or sweetened coffee drinks, which are also high in calories.

Nutrient deficiencies

If soda makes up a significant portion of your fluid intake, removing it could decrease your total daily calorie and nutrient intake if you do not replace it with other nutritious foods and beverages.

Tips for drinking soda in moderation

Here are some tips to help you enjoy soda in moderation as part of a healthy diet:

Limit to 1 per day max

Allow yourself just 1 soda per day to help control calories while still being able to enjoy it. Be mindful of portion sizes and stick to a 12-ounce (335-mL) can.

Drink it with meals

Pair your soda with a balanced meal to prevent overindulging and supply important nutrients. The carbs in soda can help replenish muscle glycogen when paired with protein foods.

Opt for smaller cans

Choosing a 7.5-ounce (222-mL) mini can over a 12-ounce (335-mL) standard size can help control portions and decrease your calorie and sugar intake.

Dilute it

Pour soda over ice or dilute it with seltzer water to cut down on calories and sugar. This satisfies your craving while limiting calorie intake.

Avoid going back for seconds

Sip your soda slowly and avoid going back for a second can, as this can quickly increase your calorie intake.

Switch to diet soda

Drinking diet sodas that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar can provide the carbonated flavor you crave without the extra calories.

Substitute with flavored seltzer

Flavored seltzer waters come in a variety of delicious flavors like grape, lime, and berry and provide the carbonation you enjoy in soda without any added sugar.

The bottom line

Drinking 1 regular soda per day can negatively impact weight loss due to its high sugar and calorie content. Completely eliminating soda may be challenging, but limiting yourself to just 1 soda maximum per day can allow you to enjoy it in moderation.

Be mindful of your portion size, choose mini cans when possible, and pair soda with a healthy meal to help control your calorie intake. Substituting in seltzer water or diluting your soda with ice are other simple ways to cut back on sugar and calories while satisfying your craving.

While an occasional soda with a meal is unlikely to negatively impact weight loss, limiting your intake to just 1 per day max is best. Focus on getting nutrition from whole foods and beverages like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods, dairy products, tea, coffee, and water as part of a healthy diet.

Frequently asked questions

How many sodas per day is too many?

Drinking more than 1 soda per day is not recommended. The American Heart Association advises limiting added sugars to no more than 100–150 calories per day for most adults. Just 1 can of soda contains around 140 calories from added sugar.

Drinking more than 1 soda per day increases calorie intake and negatively impacts weight loss. It’s best to limit soda to no more than 1 per day as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Is it OK to drink soda while dieting?

While sodas are high in added sugar and generally lacking in nutrients, it’s fine to drink soda occasionally as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet aimed at weight loss. Completely restricting soda tends to backfire for many people. Allowing yourself a moderate amount can help control cravings.

Limit your intake to 1 soda maximum per day. Be mindful of portion sizes, pair it with a healthy meal, and avoid going back for seconds to keep your calorie intake in check.

Should I give up soda to lose weight?

Giving up regular soda can aid weight loss by decreasing your calorie intake and added sugar consumption. However, completely eliminating soda may be unrealistic for some. Moderation and portion control are key.

Limit yourself to just 1 soda per day maximum as part of a diet rich in nutritious whole foods. Drink soda mindfully with meals and substitute lower calorie options like sparkling water as often as possible.

Is drinking soda once a week OK?

Having just 1 soda per week is unlikely to significantly impact weight loss for most people. While limiting soda as much as possible is recommended, the occasional soda in moderation is fine for many individuals as part of an overall healthy diet.

To keep calories in check, be sure to stick to just 1 soda per week at 12 ounces (335 mL) maximum and enjoy it alongside a nutritious meal. Diluting your soda with sparkling water or ice can further help decrease calorie intake.

Can you lose weight by replacing soda with water?

Replacing soda with water is an effective way to reduce calories and added sugars, which can boost weight loss. Drinking water before meals also helps reduce calorie intake.

However, simply switching soda for water without making other dietary changes is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss. Focus on an overall healthy diet rich in nutritious whole foods and limit soda intake in addition to staying well hydrated with water.

The bottom line

While occasional soda in moderation can be fine for many people trying to lose weight, limiting intake to 1 soda per day maximum is best.

Completely restricting soda tends to backfire for most. Allowing yourself a small amount can help control cravings as long as you remain mindful of calories by choosing mini cans, diluting soda with sparkling water, and pairing it with healthy meals.

Focus on getting nutrition from whole foods like fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains as part of an overall healthy diet aimed at weight loss in addition to limiting soda intake.