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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.

Trying to Lose Weight? Read This

Eating out too often can interfere with your diet, lead to weight gain and an unhealthy boost in your cholesterol levels. This finding, from a study at Queens College in New York City, doesn't come as a big surprise since restaurant meals are often high in calories and fat, and the portion sizes are much larger than you might serve yourself at home. Between 2005 and 2010 the researchers collected information from more than 8,300 adults. Their analysis of this data showed that individuals who ate six or more meals a week away from home had a higher body mass index, lower levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol and lower blood concentrations of vitamins C and E. While the researchers found that men eat more meals in restaurants than women, the negative effects of too many restaurant meals hit women harder, and were also more marked in individuals older than age 50. The study team reported that men who ate meals in restaurants frequently were in their 20s and 30s and had college degrees and higher incomes than occasional restaurant patrons. Nutritionists not involved with the study were quoted in news reports as saying that some restaurant portion sizes often have three to four servings-worth of calories.

How to Get More Good Brown Fat

Unlike white fat cells that store calories for energy and expand as we gain weight, brown fat cells burn calories and generate heat to maintain body temperature. The trouble is, we don’t have many of them. If we had more of these metabolically active cells, we might be slimmer and healthier. A newly published study suggests that sleeping in a chilly room might boost our individual supplies of brown fat. This strategy worked in five healthy young men who agreed to sleep in climate-controlled chambers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for four months. By day, the men went about their normal lives and reported to NIH at 8 p.m. During the first month, bedroom temperatures were set at 75 degrees; the next month the thermostats were turned down to 66 degrees, which the researchers suspected could lead to a gain in brown fat. It worked: the volume of brown fat in the men’s bodies almost doubled. The bedroom temperatures were reset at 75 degrees for the third month and to 81 degrees for the fourth month in order to bring the men’s brown fat levels back to where they had been at the study’s start. Over time, tinkering with bedroom temperature could boost your brown fat stores, which might help lower your risk of diabetes and other metabolic problems and burn some extra calories, according to senior study author Francesco S. Celi. In this particular study, the temporary change was not enough to affect the weight of the men during the four weeks they slept in chilly room.

Francesco S. Celi et al “Temperature-acclimated brown adipose tissue modulates insulin sensitivity in humans.” Diabetes, June 22, 2014

Bad News About Belly Fat

In spite of all those television ads, when men consider their declining quality of life as they get older, they might do well to blame their beer bellies, and not their testosterone levels. In fact, results of a new study from Denmark show that the bigger the belly, the lower men's quality of life. Researchers from Odense University Hospital asked 598 Danish men ages 60 to 74 about their enjoyment and activities of daily living using a questionnaire that measures general health, including ability to perform physical tasks, pain, vitality, social functioning and emotional and mental health. The investigators also measured the men’s body fat, including their belly fat, and reported that 40 percent of study participants were obese. They also checked each man’s testosterone levels and found them only modestly associated with quality of life. Belly fat, also called visceral or intra-abdominal fat, is located deep in the abdomen surrounding internal organs. This is the type of fat tissue associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer and premature death.

My take? Losing weight can help reduce the risk of the serious health problems belly fat poses, improve quality of life and normalize testosterone levels. To find out whether you have too much belly fat, simply measure your waist. For most men, a waist 40 inches around or more is simply too large. The solution: a healthy weight-loss diet plus regular physical activity - including at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise such as walking briskly. Losing weight will cut down on intra-abdominal fat as well as the excess fat you can see. If you're female, a waist measurement of 35 inches or more suggests that you need to take action.

Marianne Andersen et al, “The relationship between health-related quality of life, obesity and testosterone levels in older men,” Age and Aging, doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft203

Fat Facts (Video)

There are probably more misconceptions about fat than any other macronutrient. Dr. Weil explains why "fat does not make you fat" and shares which fat sources are the most conducive to optimum health.

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Fatigue and Fatty Foods

You can avoid daytime sleepiness if you skip fats at breakfast and lunch and opt for carbohydrates instead If your energy begins to flag late in the afternoon, the problem may be what you’ve eaten earlier in the day. A new study from Penn State’s College of Medicine showed that you can avoid daytime sleepiness if you skip fats at breakfast and lunch and opt for carbohydrates instead (protein consumption didn’t seem to make any difference). In this small study the connection of dietary fats to daytime sleepiness held true regardless of participants’ gender, age, body mass index, total calorie consumption and how well they sleep at night. The 31 participants spent four consecutive nights in a sleep lab. They ranged in age from 18 to 65 years, all were healthy, none were obese, and all habitually slept normally. They were given meals five times during the study to assess dietary influences, and the participants’ daytime sleepiness was evaluated with the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). The researchers noted that earlier studies have found that diet affects sleepiness as perceived by participants (subjective sleepiness), while the current study shows a similar association between diet and sleepiness as measured in the sleep lab (objective sleepiness). The results of the investigation were presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC in June 2013.

“Diet Linked to Daytime Sleepiness and Alertness in Healthy Adults,” Science Daily, May 7, 2013, accessed July 13, 2013 ,