Archive for the tag - soda

Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause Weight Gain?

Back in 1987, 70 million Americans consumed products made with artificial sweeteners. By 2000, that number had skyrocketed to more than 160 million. Clearly, the allure of sweet but calorie-free eating is alive and well. But is it all too good to be true?

In a surprising study, researchers from Purdue University tell us that artificial sweeteners may, in fact, be a contributing factor to obesity.

Researchers hypothesized that the body learns a relationship between the taste and texture of foods and the number of calories those foods contain. This information is then used by the body to signal hunger, fullness and to regulate the food we consume.

Sweetness, for example, is a signal to the body that calorie-rich food is being consumed. And in a world without artificial sweeteners, this is true; sugar is high in calories. But when you drink a can of diet coke, which is devoid of calories but still very sweet, this calorie-sweetness relationship is broken. Over time, the body will learn that it can’t trust sweetness to gauge calories, and the body loses its ability to regulate food consumption.

The hypothesis was supported by research with rats:

The rats that had experienced the inconsistent relationship between sweet taste and calories were less able to compensate for the calories contained in the snack and ate more than the rats that had experienced the consistent relationship between sweetness and caloric intake.

The same is believed to happen with humans. The body is unable to keep track of the calories we consume, and thus overeating ensues.

Researchers don’t believe that the breakdown of the sweetness-calorie relationship is the cause of obesity. Indeed, the obesity epidemic is far more complicated than that - and reasons can vary from individual to individual. But for a lot of people, it’s believed that artificial sweeteners could be a piece of the puzzle.

This doesn’t mean you should switch from diet beverages or sugar-free products back to the real thing. I think the real takeaway is the importance of eating healthy and nutritional foods - at least, most of the time. Instead of selecting between diet soda and traditional soda, why not opt for some ice water with a splash of lemon?

Is the Soft Drink Industry the Next Big Tobacco?

A shocking 7% of America's calories come from soda and sugary drinks.

In a study that falls into the “no shit, Sherlock” category, researchers found that drinking one or two sugary beverages a day - like soda, iced tea, sweetened fruit drinks, and vitamin water - leads to increased risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (including high blood pressure, large waist size, etc.).

The study, based on a group of more than 300,000 individuals, concluded that the elevated risk amounted to 26% for type 2 diabetes and 20% for metabolic syndrome.

According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 18 million people have diabetes; mostly type 2. Beyond the 72,500 lives that diabetes claims annually, it costs the United States $174 billion each year. Hurricane Katrina, by comparison, killed 1,836 people and cost $150 billion.

So how does drinking sugary drinks lead to type 2 diabetes? Experts say that the link occurs from the weight gain that sugary beverages help facilitate. In addition, Web MD states:

The sugar-sweetened drinks can also raise blood sugar and insulin concentrations quickly, in turn leading to insulin resistance and and higher risk of diabetes, according to the researchers.

Yet another reason to justify soda being on my 6 absolute worst foods to eat list. And, yet another reason for soda and vitamin water drinkers to kick their habit; eliminating just one sugary beverage is one small way to make a huge change in the quality of your life.

It all begs the question: Is the soft drink industry the next big tobacco?

6 Absolute Worst Foods You Can Ever Eat!

Please promise me that you will never order the Aussie Cheese Fries at the Outback Steakhouse.

I scoured the globe to find the 5 absolute worst foods that you could ever put into your body based on nutritional content. The winners are:

  1. Soda. Soda is loaded with calories, steeped in sugar, overflowing with artificial ingredients - and without any nutritional benefit. Soda is the ultimate example of “empty calories.” Just how much sugar is in a can of soda? About 40 grams - the equivalent of TEN packets of sugar! Yet the average American drinks 51 gallons of soft drinks each year. If we could cut that number in half (and replace the 25.5 gallons of soda with water), it would add up to more than 30,000 calories (the equivalent of 8.7 pounds of fat). It would take 57 hours on the treadmill to have the same effect.
  2. French fries. I recently requested the nutrition information for the “Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing” at the Outback Steakhouse. I was shocked; it contains 2,900 calories (much more than a day’s worth) and 182 grams of fat (65 grams is the typical recommendation for an entire day). Potatoes on their own are bad enough - they rate low on the gylcemic index. Their simple sugars are absorbed very quickly by the body. Once deep fried, their trans fat content goes through the roof. Avoid this gastrointestinal disaster at all costs! Opt for a salad, some rice - or pretty much anything else on the menu (and whatever you do, don’t smother them in cheese and ranch dressing).
  3. Chips. Traditional potato or corn chips face the same trans fat issues as french fries. Fortunately, the times are changing and some companies are making healthier alternatives - even baked chips. I do my best to substitute chips with carrot sticks; you get the same crunch but without the heart disease and clogged arteries.
  4. Mozzarella sticks. “Mozzarella sticks” is just another way of saying “fat fried in fat.” Cheese is full of fat. Deep fried, it’s even worse. Sure, there is some calcium in the cheese (and Mozzarella cheese is one of the lighter cheeses), but you’re much better off eating some spinach or yogurt to get the same calcium intake.
  5. Doughnuts. What’s worse than starting your day with a bowl full of sugary cereal? Reaching for a doughnut. High in trans fat and sugar, doughnuts are a true artery clogger devoid of nutritional benefit. Yet the average American consumes 35 doughnuts each year! Doughnuts are the one food that you will NEVER catch me eating - I just can’t justify it!
  6. Ice cream. I love ice cream, and it pains me to include it on this list. But did you know that a serving of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream can contain as much as 30 grams of fat? And who eats just one serving (half a cup)?! There is no saving grace for ice cream, save some calcium. Timing also comes into play - most of us eat ice cream just before bed, which is obviously the worst time possible!

Do you eat any of these foods? Or do you have any other foods to include on the list? Let me know in the comments!

How to Overcome Sugar Addiction.

Sugar is serious business. And many of us are addicted to the sweet stuff - or at the very least, getting way too much of it.

According to the USDA, Americans get more than twice the recommend amount of added sugar daily. What’s the big deal? Excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, metabolic disorders (a precursor to diabetes) and even some forms of cancer. In other words, our sugar addiction could kill us.

And from a purely fitness standpoint, lots of sugar translates into extra body fat. A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down - but it will take 4 minutes of treadmill running to work it off!

What can you do to kick your sugar habit?

  1. Get your sugar where it occurs naturally - from fruits, dairy and vegetables.
  2. Avoid the obvious stuff like soft drinks, cakes, cookies, pies, fruit punch and candy.
  3. When you buy food, check the label. In the list of ingredients, look for any of these as they’re all forms of sugar in a clever disguise: Brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, syrup or table sugar.

The easiest and most effective way to cut some sugar from your diet is to simply replace any fruit or soda beverages with water. If you can replace just two sugary beverages with water, you’ll make an annual caloric savings equivalent to 22 pounds of body fat!