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Zero calorie drink with zero weight loss? Say no to that – Harvard Health Blog

Zero calorie drink with zero weight loss?  Say no to that – Harvard Health Blog


Are you trying to reduce calories by switching from plain soda to diet soda? Do you prefer carbonated water with a slight flavor, such as Hint or LaCroix? Or maybe you bought a carbonating device like SodaStream or Drinkmate?

Research suggests that none of these options can help you lose weight. Worse, they can also lead to weight gain! The reasons may surprise you. It surprised me for sure.

The problem with regular soda is not just calories

If you drink two cans of plain 12-ounce coke a day, you can eliminate 280 “empty” (non-nutritive) calories by switching to a zero-calorie alternative. In a month, there are 8,400 fewer calories, enough to lose almost two and a half pounds. So what’s the catch?

One concern is that artificially enjoyed diet sodas can cause cravings for high-calorie sweet foods. So even though sodas go down to zero calories, consumption of other foods and beverages can add even more. In rodents, has been shown to damage at least one part of the brain that tells an animal sweetener (aspartame) when to stop eating the animal.

And various studies in humans (e.g. this and this) have found a tendency towards weight gain among people who drink artificially sweetened beverages. But the research has been confusing: other studies have found that low-calorie drinks can be artificially sweetened helped with weight loss.

One factor that complicates the study of zero-calorie drinks and weight loss is called “reverse causation”. People at risk for obesity tend to choose these drinks, which makes them feel guilty about these drinks.

Of course, there are others health problems associated with artificial sweeteners, including certain cancers, including cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of kidney problems. The evidence for this is not strong enough to be certain, however.

Are you sure carbonated water without artificial sweeteners is okay?

Drinks with carbonated water and no artificial sweeteners have long been considered a safe bet when it comes to breaking the traditional soda habit. Without sugar, calories, or artificial sweeteners, how can you go wrong?

But a 2017 study of humans and rats he also questions this approach.

First of all, rats: For over a year, rats have had one of the following four drinks: water, a regular carbonated drink, a carbonated drink allowed to go flat, or a carbonated diet drink. Ordinary carbonated drinks had a non-artificial sweetener.

Here is what the researchers found:

  • Rats that drank a carbonated beverage (regular or dietary) ate more food than rats that drank water or flat soda
  • Rats that drank a carbonated beverage (regular or dietary) gained weight faster than rats that drank water or flat soda.
  • The percentage of ghrelin in the stomach was higher after being exposed to carbonated beverages compared to non-carbonated beverages. Ghrelin is a hormone that controls appetite.

And now, humans: 20 male students drank five drinks, one sitting in each for a period of a month. Drinks included water, plain soda, plain baking soda, diet soda, or carbonated water. Shortly afterwards, blood ghrelin levels were measured.

When students drank any carbonated beverage (plain soda, diet soda, or carbonated water), ghrelin levels rose to higher levels than when they drank water or flat soda.

Although this study did not evaluate students ’food consumption or weight changes after drinking different types of drinking, the increase in ghrelin levels following the consumption of carbonated beverages makes it plausible that these beverages can lead to hunger, food consumption, and weight gain. That’s the concern.

Why would drinking carbonated drinks encourage your body to release more ghrelin? The study’s authors speculated that pressure-sensitive stomach cells respond to carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages by increasing ghrelin production.

What is there to drink?

The short answer is simple: water. Sugar-free tea or fruit-filled water are also good alternatives.

It is important to note that occasionally drinking regular soda or another carbonated beverage is not dangerous. The question is, what is your favorite drink chosen, and what are its possible consequences?

Bottom line

While plain water may be best for your health, it is not the most attractive option for many. If you prefer to drink soda every day, it makes sense to switch from the usual alternative to zero calories. A low-calorie carbonated drink can be a reasonable choice as long as you keep an eye on your diet and your weight.

There is a real chance that carbonated beverages may have little to do with the negative effects on appetite and weight. However, it would be early to say that we should all give up carbonated drinks so that the obesity epidemic does not worsen.

Stay tuned for future research evaluating the health effects of low-calorie beverages. While it’s good to have opportunities, it’s good to know the pros and cons of each.

Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling



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