Devoid of vital nutrients and packed with sugar and high calories, soda represents everything bad about junk food. Many people drink at least a soda a day. So, it’s very much a staple in most homes. If you’re trying to lose weight, here’s what you should know.

Avoid Daily Soda Intake

Trying to slim down? Soda is the last thing you want in your diet. It’s high in sugar content and calories. Those extra calories and sugar don’t fill you up or add any nutrients to your weight loss diet, either, and don’t forget that excess sugars can cause hypertension and spike your body’s triglyceride levels, heightening the risk of heart disease. For these reasons, it’s best to avoid it.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), women should only consume six teaspoons of sugar in a day while men should not exceed nine teaspoons. A 12-ounce cola contains roughly eight teaspoons of sugar. In terms of calories, we’re talking around 130. Though drinking soda once in a while won’t stifle your weight loss efforts, drinking it daily pumps more calories into your system resulting in weight gain.

How About Diet Soda?

Switching from regular to diet soda can help you eliminate 150-200 calories from your diet, but there’s no assurance that you’ll slim down. Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center examined 7-8 years of data from a diet survey on 1,500 Americans. Guess what they found out. There’s a strong link between obesity and regular drinking of diet soda—the risk of becoming obese increases 41 percent with every additional bottle of diet soda you consume daily.

If you’re dieting to lose weight, the calories you take must be less than you burn. This way, your body will start breaking down stored fat and convert it to energy, reducing the fat levels.  The amount of weight you’ll lose while you follow a no-soda diet depends on how much soda you consume daily, but you stand to gain more by eliminating that one drink.

By not drinking a soda with roughly 150 calories a day, you’ll save you 1,050 calories in a week. In a year, this translates into thousands of calories—equivalent to 15 pounds of body fat! This doesn’t include the weight you’ll shed by regular exercising or other lifestyle changes.

A diet label always makes us feel like we can have more (halo effect), even if its junk food such as fries. The positive side of diet sodas is they don’t add calories to your diet directly. Plus, they can be good for your teeth since they don’t encourage bacteria. Whether no-calorie sweeteners can induce hunger or not is a gray area for now.

The Best Alternatives to Soda

If you’re reading this, you must be asking yourself, what should I drink instead? Drink water. This sounds boring but helps you keep hydrated. Try seltzer water for that fizz you may be craving. You can also add a splash of fresh fruit juice, preferably fresh lemon or orange slices. Sugarless teas – hot or iced – are great alternatives too.