Beverages – Weight Loss Friend or Foe?

Answer – it depends. We all have heard that drinking water before meals AND snacks can help curb your appetite. A recent Virginia Tech study found that participants who drank 2, 8-ounce (oz.) glasses of water before meals consumed 75-90 fewer calories during the meal. If that doesn’t seem like a big deal, consider if you did this every day, 3 times a day, you could theoretically lose 1/2 pound  in one week. That’s 26 pounds in one year!

On the other hand, soft drinks including regular sweetened soda AND diet soda are linked to weight gain and obesity. A University of Texas Health Sciences Center reported a 41 % increase in the risk of being overweight for every can of soda consumed. A 12 oz. can of regular soda contains 150 calories and 9 to 12 teaspoons of sugar and NO vitamins or minerals. A typical serving in a fast food restaurant is at least 20 oz. upping the calories and providing a whopping 15 teaspoons of sugar. It’s no wonder that the Framingham Heart Study, Boston University  and University of MN studies have found that soda drinkers are more likely to develop diabetes, metabolic syndrome, abdominal obesity and high blood pressure.

Even diet soda is not off the hook, researchers feel that one reason diet soda drinkers also gain weight is that the diet soda may perpetuate the desire for other sweet foods and/or when you drink sweetened or unsweetened soft drinks the body does not experience the same sense of fullness as when food is consumed.

There are other liquids, in addition to water, that can  curb your  appetite and help you lose weight:

  • Soup  increases satiety or a feeling of fullness when consumed before a meal. This has been shown to reduce calorie intake by as much as 20% during the meal. The best soups to chose are broth or tomato-based. These are low in calories and provide healthy nutrients. If you have high blood pressure or a sodium sensitive, choose a reduced sodium variety.
  • Dairy  beverages such as non-fat or low-fat milk are high in protein, calcium and Vitamin D. All three of these nutrients have been correlated with weight loss or prevention of weight gain, especially around your mid-section.

The bottom line: Beverages make up 21 % of the average American’s calorie intake so you need to choose wisely. A couple simple changes such as consuming water or soup before meals and swapping a glass of water or milk for a soda can really help you beat the battle of the bulge.  More water and less soda could mean a 4o+ pound weight loss this year without having to give up all your favorite foods.

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