The #1 Worst Thing to Drink If You're Trying to Lose Weight
Eating isn't the only factor to consider when trying to lose weight. No, we're not talking about exercise. (Though that's important.) You also need to consider what you are drinking.
According to an analysis by BMC Public Health, 20 percent of the total calories you consume in a day come from drinks only. If you are consuming 2,000 calories a day, that 20 percent equals 400 calories.
Now, consider this: if you cut 400 calories a day from your diet, you can lose almost a pound in a week. And that without any further changes.
(See also: 8 foods that could soon be in short supply.)
Sound tempting? We thought so. If you've ever tried (or are in the process of) losing weight, you know how difficult it is to come up with small ways to save calories without completely overworking your life. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to swap the sip.
So let's get back to that 20 percent. What drinks do we drink that add so many calories to our diet? It's coffee and tea (with add-ins, of course), energy drinks, fruit juice, fruit drinks, and milk. But these energy dense drinks are nothing compared to the two drinks that add the most calories to your diet. In fact, the two best drinks are more than twice as high in calories as most of the drinks you drink: soda and alcohol.
According to the same BMC Public Health study, adult Americans under the age of 50 consume 140 calories of soda and 150 calories of alcohol per day. This corresponds to 5.7 and 6.1 percent of your total caloric intake.
When it comes to weight loss, it's basically a numbers game. The fewer calories you consume, the more weight you lose. So, if you want to lose weight fast, make it easy for yourself by cutting down on one or two of the main sources of calories in your daily diet. And that means you have to consume less soda or alcohol. (In an ideal world, you would limit both - by avoiding them both in a cocktail and on their own.)
And if you had to choose one, it should be soda.
Not only is soda bad for your overall health, it can lead to weight gain. With around 150 calories and 35 grams of sugar per can, soda is a drink full of empty calories.
One study after another shows that increasing consumption of soda has a direct impact on weight gain. A study by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity even found that this is true despite increasing physical activity. This means that exercising will not help you fight off the weight gain associated with drinking soda.
On the flip side, alcohol seems to have calories but not as much of a contributor to weight gain as soda.
A recent study published in the journal Obesity tracked men's alcohol consumption habits over a 24-year period. The results were surprising: men who added one drink to their alcohol consumption during this period gained weight, but it was "unlikely to be clinically significant," according to the authors. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that light to moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy diet - as long as men have fewer than two drinks a day. If you exceed that number, the study found that it was enough to make a significant contribution to weight gain.
The small effect of alcohol on weight gain has also been noted in women. A study by the Archives of Internal Medicine tracked the alcohol consumption habits of over 19,000 American women for nearly 13 years. The results of this study were even more shocking than those of the men. The researchers found that in women who were in a healthy BMI range, light to moderate alcohol consumption (1-2 drinks per day) was actually due to less weight gain over a decade than women who did not drink alcohol all drank. The authors speculate that the reason why alcohol drinkers gained less weight over time compared to nondrinkers is that women are more likely to drink alcohol in lieu of calories than in addition. This means that men are more likely to have a beer with pizza, women more a glass of wine with a show.
While these studies show that alcohol can be part of a healthy diet and may not contribute to weight gain if consumed in moderation (if you drink more than 2 drinks a day it's a different story), you should nonetheless the other Health and safety consider consequences associated with excessive alcohol consumption such as liver disease, heart disease, and digestive problems. And, if you're just starting out on your weight loss, it can't hurt to curb your alcohol consumption and save those calories until you reach your goal weight.
If you want to lose weight at the end of the day, you need to cut calories - whether that comes from soda, alcohol, or unhealthy foods depends on what works best for you and your personal nutritional needs.
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