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Water v. Diet Soda For Weight Loss

Replacing diet soda with plain water might help you lose more weight, especially if you’re already on a diet. Researchers at the University of Nottingham in the UK recruited 89 overweight and obese women ages 27 to 40 who usually drank diet sodas at lunch and asked half of them to switch to water. The others were instructed to continue drinking diet sodas after lunch five times a week for the 24-week duration of the study. Of the 89 women who initially enrolled, 62 completed the study. Those who switched their lunchtime drink to water lost about 8.8 kilograms (19.4 pounds), compared to 7.6 kilograms (16.8 pounds) for the women who continued to drink diet soda. Another plus: the research team reported improvements in insulin sensitivity in the women who switched to water. Even though the difference in weight loss between the two groups was small, diet drinks definitely have another downside. Earlier studies have linked them to obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Does Carbonation Make You Fat?

You may have heard that carbonation leads to weight gain – a claim that goes around the internet every so often. If you sip fizzy drinks are you encouraging extra pounds? 

Can imbibing too many carbonated drinks make you fat? While the fizziness of carbonated drinks is not a direct contributor to weight gain, once you factor in the unhealthy amounts of sugar that carbonated sodas contain, adding unwanted pounds can most definitely be a side effect of consuming carbonated drinks.

If you crave the fizz, opt for carbonated mineral waters that have no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. There seems to be no solid evidence that the carbonation itself contributes to weight gain. Add a bit of fruit juice if you want a sweeter taste - you'll get the carbonation without all the empty calories.

4 Beverages to Avoid

Unless you want to add unnecessary calories and sugars to your diet, avoid these common, popular drinks.

Whether you are watching your weight or just want to eat healthier, taking a look at what you drink is key. Empty calories can lurk in all types of beverages - especially these:

1.   Coffee drinks with extras such as sugar or flavored syrup. These deliver a concentrated dose of quick-digesting carbohydrates that can lead to weight gain. A better option is a plain coffee with a little half-and-half, or, better yet, enjoy antioxidant-rich green tea instead of coffee.

2.   Frothy summer cocktails. Whether it's a margarita or a piña colada, sugary drinks pack a double dose of calories due to alcohol and sugar - some can top 800 calories in one drink! A better option is a glass of red wine (60-100 calories), a light beer (about 100 calories) or spirits with club soda and a lime.

3.   Juice and non-juice "juice drinks." These products are no better than drinking sugared water. If you want to enjoy the juice of a fruit, it’s best fresh, not bottled, and made partially or wholly from vegetables rather than entirely from fruits. If you consume fruit juice, I recommend adding purified or sparkling water to reduce the sugar content. 

4.   Soda. There just isn't anything nutritious about soda, whether it's diet or regular. If you're a soda addict, breaking the habit is among the best moves you can make for your weight and your health. Consider switching to sparkling water with a slice of citrus.

Don't miss my next post when we cover four healthy beverages.

More Worries About Diet Drinks

Middle-aged women who consume more than two diet drinks a day may be setting themselves up for heart attacks, stroke or other cardiovascular problems according to research results presented at the March 29-31 scientific meeting of the American College of Cardiology. The new findings come from a study including nearly 60,000 postmenopausal women who described their weekly consumption of diet sodas and diet fruit drinks over a three-month period. Analysis of the data gathered showed that women who consumed two or more drinks a day were 30 percent more likely to develop a cardiovascular problem and 50 percent more likely to die from a heart-related disease than women who rarely or never drank diet beverages. The researchers determined after nearly nine years of follow up that 8.5 percent of the women who drank the most diet drinks developed cardiovascular conditions compared to 6.9 percent of those who reported having five to seven diet drinks per week, 6.8 percent of those who had one to four diet drinks per week, and 7.2 percent of those who had zero to three of these drinks per month. The findings persisted even after researchers adjusted for smoking, BMI, hormone therapy use, physical activity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other risks for cardiovascular disease. Women who had a history of cardiovascular disease were not included in the study.

My take? This isn’t the first bad news about diet drinks. In 2012, a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that the risk of heart attack and stroke or other vascular event was 43 percent higher among individuals who had a daily diet soda habit than those who didn’t consume these drinks, or who did so infrequently. Research at Harvard has suggested that drinking two or more diet sodas daily is associated with a decline in a measure of kidney function in women, and a Danish study found that the risk of giving birth prematurely increased by 38 percent among women who drank diet soda daily and by 78 percent among those who drank four or more diet sodas per day. There’s also evidence linking diet sodas to weight gain. Over the course of nine years, epidemiologists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found a 70 percent greater increase in weight circumference among participants in a study of aging who drank diet soda compared to those who didn’t. Bottom line: sodas, and diet sodas in particular, have no place in a healthy diet.

Sources:
Ankur Vyas et al,  "Too many diet drinks may spell heart trouble for older women, study suggests." American College of Cardiology, http://www.cardiosource.org/en/News-Media/Media-Center/News-Releases/2014/03/Vyas-Diet-Drinks.aspx March 29-31, 2014.

Would a Soda Tax Reduce Obesity?

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to limit the size of sodas sold in his cityNew York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to limit the size of sodas sold in his city was nixed by a judge (a court challenge is in the works), but now researchers from Britain’s Oxford University and the University of Reading have come up with a plan they think can help stem the obesity epidemic in the U.K.: a 20 percent tax on sugar sweetened drinks. In an editorial published in the journal BMJ the researchers estimated that the tax would reduce sales of these drinks significantly and cut the obesity rate by 1.3 percent. That would mean 180,000 fewer obese adults in the U.K., which has the dubious distinction of being the fattest country in Europe. The researchers said the biggest impact would be on soft drink junkies under age 30. Meanwhile, the Mexican Congress has approved new taxes on sweet drinks and junk food that will amount to one peso (about 8 cents) per liter on soft drinks and an 8 percent sales tax on high-calorie foods, including potato chips, sweets and cereal, the New York Times reported. The lawmakers noted the new taxes (to be signed into law in January 2014) were needed to help combat Mexico’s rising rates of obesity and diabetes, as well as to increase revenue. Reportedly, the British researchers weren’t optimistic that a tax on sugar sweetened drinks would be approved by Parliament - last year, a proposal to tax the meat pie, a British pub classic, was tabled.

Source:
Mike Rayner et al, “Overall and income specific effect on prevalence of overweight and obesity of 20% sugar sweetened drink tax in UK: econometric and comparative risk assessment modelling study,” BMJ doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6189