Trying to lose weight and improve health? You might want to rethink that drink.
When researchers go looking for trends that might explain the nation's obesity epidemic, most agree on at least one thing:
Americans have a drinking problem.
But the problem pours beyond alcohol. It is everything - sodas, sports drinks, specialty coffees and teas, fruit beverages of every kind.
Does that mean the extra guzzling is to blame? Nutritional researchers tout drinking these calories are definitely part of the problem, for several well-documented reasons.
Find out the link between liquid calories, weight gain, and overall health (and actionable tips for a soda solution)!
Liquid calories are calories supplied from liquid forms rather than those in solid form.
Common sources of liquid calories include soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, protein shakes, and alcohol. Fruit juices may seem like a healthier option, though some juices are loaded with sugar just the way sodas are.
The issue with liquid calories is that they are often a source of empty calories. They add calories without much nutritional benefit, tend to leave the body unsatisfied, and can lead to a number of health concerns.
Liquid Calories, Weight Gain & Health Risks
A high intake of calories, whatever form, can cause a number of health consequences.
Liquid calories pose great concern mostly tied to satiety or lack thereof. Sugary drinks can cause weight gain because they are easy to drink and the body has trouble recognizing drinks as actual, solid food.
In addition to blunting hunger, it is easy to overdrink on liquid calories. Whereas the label may indicate 100 calories per serving, the 3 servings per container may go unnoticed. This equates to 300 sippable calories consumed, often without feeling full or satisfied afterward.
What's more, just one small soda can add on 150 calories and about 12 grams of added sugar! To put that into perspective, recommendations of added sugars are 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men.
Added sugar, liquid calories, and alcohol can lead to weight gain, hinder weight loss progress, and lead to a myriad of health problems.
Other Health Risks
In addition to weight gain, soda, alcohol, and other drinks that supply empty calories can increase the short and long-term risks of:
• Changes in mood
• Tooth decay and cavities
• Heart disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• Certain forms of cancer
• Liver disease
• Gout, a type of arthritis
• Premature death or mortality
One of the easiest and fastest ways to cut calories without feeling hungry is by cutting out unnecessary beverages.
What to Drink Instead of Soda & Liquid Calories
First and foremost, water is the ultimate goto for quenching thirst and feeling satisfied. Along with being a zero-calorie drink, water is absolutely essential to health.
Aim to drink more water each day by:
• Using larger cups, though also choosing a cup that is easy to fill and carry.
• Keeping water in convenient locations for continuous reminders.
• Making your water taste better by flavoring with fresh fruit, herbs, and other enhancers.
• Ordering water at restaurants.
Also if not completely weaned off soda, try drinking a glass of water before popping open a can. The initial water intake can help fill the stomach and reduce the risk of indulging too much in soda.
And if changing to diet Coca Cola and other diet soda varieties, not so fast…
That diet coke can be just as harmful to health, even increasing health risks much like regular soda. This is because turning to drinks with artificial sweeteners and other additives present their own health concerns.
Consider these alternatives to soda, diet included, such as:
• Sparkling water
• Sparkling water flavored with a splash of 100 percent fruit juice
• Black coffee
• Unsweetened iced tea, warm green tea, and other tea varities
• Coconut water
• Freshly squeezed lemonade
• Kombucha (but know what to look for!)
When choosing any drink, though, be on the lookout for grams of sugar and opt for unsweetened options. This serves true when drinking alcohol, too.
So, "What's the best alcohol to drink when trying to losing weight?" you might wonder. While there is no single best answer, consider a light beer, glass of wine, or other beverages without sugary mix-ins. Stick to proper serving and portion sizes as well.
Quitting Soda Before and After
All-in-all, the outcomes of before and after quitting soda are completely individual, as there are many other factors that come into play.
However, when you stop drinking soda and other liquid calories, you may be able to better control weight, blood sugars, blood lipids, and other health parameters.
(We'll cheers to that!)
Allison DB. Liquid calories, energy compensation and weight: what we know and what we still need to learn. Br J Nutr. 2014;111(3):384-386. doi:10.1017/S0007114513003309