Recent data from the CDC shows that some 40 percent of U.S. women are now considered obese. Like most dietitians, we take this very personally, as we feel like so much of our advice to consumers isn’t getting through or making an impact. You hear what you should (and shouldn’t be eating) from so many different sources, I feel like the simplest —and most effective—ways to prevent obesity or reverse it’s course isn’t heard.
For example, when it comes to losing weight, dietitians always recommend to eat your calories, don’t drink them. However, in the typical U.S. diet, beverages not contribute nearly 20 percent of your overall calories. What’s more, sugar-sweetened beverages like your gourmet coffee drink, energy drinks, sodas and other flavored beverages are the leading source of added sugar in the U.S. diet.
Studies show that people who drink too many sugar-sweetened beverages are at risk for weight gain and obesity. The problem with drinking beverages that pack in calories is two-fold: beverages don’t provide the same level of fullness that equal calories of food provides and they are metabolized more quickly (because they generally lack fiber and protein) and therefore, cause a rapid rise and subsequent fall in blood sugar levels.
More than half of U.S. adults drink at least one sweetened beverage every day. If you replaced that one beverage with water (or unsweetened coffee, tea or other calorie-free beverage) you could shave thousands of calories and cups upon cups of added sugar from your diet. In fact, replacing a 12-ounce soda with sparkling water every day, for a year, slashes more than 50,000 calories and 65 cups of added sugar.
Keeping all other things equal in your life, that swap alone could add up to pounds lost. A recent study found that Americans who reported drinking the most water ate fewer total daily calories, drank fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and also had less saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol in their diet. Some researchers even recommend tracking your daily water servings as a way to help you peel off pounds. (You don’t even have to track what you eat!)