DRINK THE POUNDS AWAYNew research has found that we may be gaining weight not only because of what we eat, but also because of what we drink. One study1 followed some teens drinking as usual – cola, sports drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages – while other teens shifted primarily to water and no-calorie soft drinks.
After 6 months, the water drinkers lost a little weight, while teens who drank as usual gained a little. But overweight teens in the no-cal group had significant weight loss – despite changing no other behaviors – indicating that cutting sugary drinks alone leads to some weight loss.
A separate review2 of previous studies also linked sweetened beverages to weight gain.
The panel of researchers found that Americans consume as much as 300 calories a day more than we did a few decades ago; about half of those calories come from sugary drinks.
The panel drafted the following “Healthy Beverage Guidelines,” a ranking of beverages in the order of their healthy-weight benefits.
What to drink
#1 – Spring or filtered water has zero calories and is necessary for regulating your body’s temperature, digestion & blood pressure. If you find the taste of water lacking, try adding fresh lemon, orange or lime slices.
#2 – Or try herbal tea. Unsweetened coffee and tea ranked second, and caffeine-free herbal teas have ingredients like hibiscus flowers, orange peel, mint leaves and lemongrass for a naturally fruity taste, even when unsweetened.
#3 – Low-fat, skim and fortified soy milk have protein & vitamins with few calories. Enjoy it with whole-grain cereal, and keep the cookie-dunking to a minimum.
#4 – Diet soft drinks have few (or no) calories, but not much nutritional value either.
#5 – The researchers ranked 100% fruit juice low – alongside whole milk & sports drinks – for having little nutrition and many calories. They recommend whole fruit instead for its high water content (especially melon, citrus, strawberries & tomatoes) plus vitamins & fiber.
#6 – The “unsweetened” coffee ranked at #2 does not include flavored blender drinks, like the Frappaccino®. These high-calorie, low-nutrient concoctions ranked dead last, alongside regular sodas & sugar-added fruit drinks.
(sources: Pediatrics, March 2006, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2006)