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Avoid Weight Gain: Watch What You Drink

Here's how to keep from drowning in liquid calories.

5 Points About Liquid Calories

Here are five points to consider about liquid calories:

1. Liquid calories may not be a wise investment of your calories.

Liquid calories don't seem to register in the stomach like food calories do, so they don't satisfy hunger as well. The next time you drink a high-calorie beverage, check in with your stomach an hour later. How do you feel? Are you still satisfied?

A group of researchers from Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill explain in a recent journal article that fructose (the chief component in high-fructose corn syrup) is different from glucose in that it does NOT stimulate insulin secretion or enhance leptin production. And higher levels of insulin and leptin in the blood stream help regulate body weight by serving as signals that food has been eaten.

2. Watch the high-fructose corn syrup.

Some experts say that part of the rise in obesity in the United States is due to our rising consumption of high-fructose corn syrup, which is used in many soft drinks, fruit juices, and sports drinks.

One study found that rats fed a high-fructose diet were more likely to develop features of metabolic syndrome, says researcher Richard J. Johnson, MD, of the University of Florida College of Medicine. Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms linked to a high risk of diabetes and heart disease.

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."

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