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    5 Points About Liquid Calories continued...

    3. Soda consumption may contribute to obesity.

    Excess calories contribute to obesity, of course, and full-calorie soda is no doubt adding excess calories to many of our diets. In fact, a recent study followed that followed 2,300 young girls for 10 years showed that soda consumption predicted the greatest increase in the girls' body mass index (BMI). Several other studies have shown that as intake of sweetened soda went up, so did the effect on weight gain.

    4. It is better to eat your carbohydrates than to drink them.

    A Purdue University study showed that significant weight gain may occur when we consume carbohydrates as liquids rather than as solid food. In the study, 15 men and women consumed extra carbs each day for four weeks, either as a liquid (soda) or a solid (jelly beans). The rest of the day's intake was up to them. While the study participants didn't decrease their total calorie intake to compensate for the added soda calories, they did compensate naturally for the additional calories eaten as jellybeans.

    5. The bottom line to alternative sweeteners.

    In discussing the latest research on alternative sweeteners, the April 2006 issue of the Environmental Nutrition newsletter concluded that "one diet drink a day or NutraSweet in your morning coffee is not anything to worry about. But if you regularly consume much more than that or eat several low-calorie foods sweetened with aspartame, Environmental Nutrition suggests consider switching to products that use a less controversial sweetener like sucralose (Splenda) or a sucralose blend."

    Low- and No-Calorie Drink Recipes

    Cutting back on sweetened drinks really doesn't have to be a big sacrifice. Very-low calorie beverages can be refreshing and delicious. Try these recipes and you'll see what I mean.

    50/50 Fizzy Water
    Journal as: No need to journal due to the low number of calories

    Remember those 50/50 bars with orange sherbet on the outside and vanilla ice cream on the inside? That vintage ice cream bar is the essence of this low-calorie drink.

    3/4 cup seltzer water, club soda, or fizzy mineral water
    1/4 cup orange juice (as fresh as possible)
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

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