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July 26, 2009 • Healthy Eating & Nutrition, Heart Health, Weight Control

Dump your Liquid Calories

Of all the radical changes in the modern American diet compared to that consumed by our hunter-gatherer ancestors, our record consumption (3 fold increase since 1970!) of sweetened beverages (soda, sports drinks, etc.) is arguably the most profound and tops my list as one of the most high risk of all our unhealthy habits.  Sweetened beverages are now the number one source of calories in the US diet and have been repeatedly linked to weight gain, obesity, type II diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, and according to a new report from the massive Nurses Health Study, we should also add heart disease to this scary list.  After following 88,000 women for a 24 year period, investigators found that those who consumed one or two or more sweetened beverages daily were 23% and 35% respectively more likely to have heart attacks than those who consumed less than 1 a month. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 09)  A second landmark report in the same journal concluded that reducing the intake of sweetened beverages, like soda, provides an effective means of losing weight and keeping it off.  The same study determined for the first time that reducing liquid calories had a larger impact on weight reduction than reducing an equivalent amount of solid food calories.  This novel finding, along with previous scientific observations that reducing liquid calories does not seem to make us more hungry (as is the case with cutting back on solid food calories), tells me that this is the pathway of least resistance to weight loss.  Namely, dumping your liquid sugar calories, is also the most powerful.