Drinking Your Calories Absentmindedly Leads to Weight Gain
Calories are difficult to keep track of, in their solid form we at least have a basic understanding of what foods are healthier than others, drinks on the other hand not so much. Liquid calories, particularly from sugar sweetened beverages, are a whole different battlefield. Because of the simple process of drinking and the lack of actually eating a substance it is easy to not account for the amount of calories we are drinking. Beverages that have been bottled do have nutrition labels, but many people don’t realize how many calories can contribute to their daily intake. It is as if we are absentminded of calories once they are put into liquid form.
A study done by JAMA concluded a “higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with a greater magnitude of weight gain and an increased risk for development of type 2 diabetes in women, possibly by providing excessive calories and large amounts of rapidly absorbable sugars. Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. Sugary drinks (soda, energy, sports drinks) are the top calorie source in teens’ diets (226 calories per day), beating out pizza (213 calories per day). (Lasater G, Piernas C, Popkin BM)
Liquid calories in just about any form — alcohol, juice or soda— are empty calories. Once in body beverages can have a major impact, not only in added calories but also ladened with sugar. Scientific evidence confirms that despite the fact such sugar sweetened beverages add to our total intake of calories, the body doesn’t detect them the same way as it would detect solid food.
“Fluid calories do not hold strong satiety properties, don’t suppress hunger and don’t elicit compensatory dietary responses,” said Richard Mattes, M.P.H, R.D., a professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University. “When drinking fluid calories, people often end up eating more calories overall.”
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health have found that greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked with a greater genetic susceptibility to high body mass index (BMI) and increased risk of obesity. Not only will drinking calories make one susceptible to gaining weight, it also puts one at a greater sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption was strongly associated with progressively higher risk of type 2 diabetes
The term “soft drink” refers to any beverage with added sugar or other sweetener, and includes soda, juice, lemonade and sports and energy drinks. Even drinking juice can have it negatives. Because of juices associate with fruit it is commonly perceived as healthy but many varieties lack in nutrition. There is a few vitamins, this is often from additives that replace the fruit’s original vitamins, which were stripped out during processing—and that goes for the “not from concentrate” juices as well. By juicing a fruit the actual fruit’s fiber and phytonutrients is lost. As the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages rise, the childhood obesity does as well.
The average can of sugar-sweetened soda or fruit punch provides about 150 calories, almost all of them from sugar, usually high-fructose corn syrup. That’s the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of table sugar. If you were to drink just one can of a sugar-sweetened soft drink every day, and not cut back on calories elsewhere, you could gain up to 5 pounds in a year.
Naturally when one wants to cut calories from beverages they chose a diet alternative. Beverages in this category include low fat low sugar milk, unsweetened tea and coffee, and diet tea, coffee, and soft drinks. Drinking diet beverages has been linked to an increase in the consumption of calories from food. “Artificial sweeteners, which are present in high doses in diet soda, are associated with a greater activation of reward centers in the brain, thus altering the reward a person experiences from sweet tastes. In other words, among people who drink diet soda, the brain’s sweet sensors may no longer provide a reliable gauge of energy consumption because the artificial sweetener disrupts appetite control. As a result, consumption of diet drinks may result in increased food intake overall.”
Beverages that you should be drinking more of include water and tea. Pay close attention to the nutrition label though. Tea is a world that is associated with being healthy and marketers have capitalized on this. There has been a decrease in the consumption of soda but that bottling industry hasn’t given up the fight just yet. In order to continue to keep people purchase their products they have switched over to teas, sports drinks, and other seemingly healthy beverages. Avoid purchasing expensive bottled teas or teas in coffee shops that contain added sweeteners. Actively watch for hidden calories and try to cut the consumption of sugar and calories from beverage by choosing a better drink.
“Sugar sweetened beverages are one of the driving forces behind the obesity epidemic,” says Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and a co-author of this study. “The implication of our study is that the genetic effects of obesity can be offset by healthier food and beverage choices.”
For more information I highly suggest Harvard’s, the Nutrition Source, Sugary Drinks