While trying to lose weight, drinking enough water can help boost metabolism while cutting calories. However, other seemingly innocent beverages (even fruit juices) can cause a set back to your efforts. These beverages can pack a punch due to high levels of sugars (even natural sugars) and sweeteners. This can lead to weight gain and fat accumulation. Drinking in the pounds is definitely not a good idea. What’s more is that consuming liquid calories leads to subtle weight gain which we shall see.
But what is it that makes these liquid calories so unhealthy?
1. Their intake is subtle and hard to gauge
Going overboard with liquids is easy and does not require second thought. Do you remember how many cups of tea or coffee you had today? Or how many glasses of juice or soft drinks you had this week? Liquid calories have a way of going unnoticed and sometimes may be even more calorie dense than solids.
On the other hand, think of this, gorging on a pizza or pani puri is something you tend to remember. You may even try to restrict your calories for the rest of the day, which is a good thing. However, studies show that when high calorie beverages are ingested, people tend not to be careful with their dietary choices soon after. In short, these calories are easily forgotten.
2. They do not leave you feeling full
The fact that liquids are so quick and easy to drink, may lead to consuming more than necessary. They also do not require chewing (a mechanism that leads to a feeling of satisfaction and fullness). They also have a quicker transit time since they stay in the mouth for a very short time as compared to solids. On reaching the stomach, they are quickly digested, which could leave you feeling hungry soon after.
3. Can cause food cravings
Solid foods need time for chewing and this is acknowledged by the brain with the help of hunger hormones. Ghrelin plays an important role in regulating feelings of hunger and fullness. Once the stomach is full, ghrelin production stops. Liquid calories on the other hand tend to bypass ghrelin. This means you can gulp down beverages and still not feel full. This in the long run could lead to consuming more calories and craving more food than you normally would eat.
4. They are not the healthiest options around
Opting for a whole fruit is much healthier than having a fruit juice. Why? The fiber from fruits boosts satiety and keeps overeating in check. On the other hand, a fruit juice (even a fresh fruit juice) could result in consuming twice the amount of sugar and calories in just a single glass since there is no fiber to stop you.
Packaged fruit juices (even the 100% kind) contain added sugar, colour and preservatives. Our bodies are not adapted to deal with these artificial, synthetic ingredients. Sports drink on the other hand should not be gulped at random for the same reasons.
What options does this leave me with?
Water! Natures best drink comes with zero calories! It helps to flush out toxins while performing a host of beneficial processes in the body. If you dislike the taste of plain water, jazz it up with a few slices of lime and a sprig of fresh mint leaves.
Tea and Coffee: Yes, you can have these beverages, they are not bad in themselves. But, the addition of excess sugar, full fat milk or cream is what piles on those calories. This is why it helps to cut down on calories, by drinking fewer cups and in smaller amounts. Other alternatives you can try are- a small cup of black coffee/ black tea/ green tea/ white tea/ chamomile tea etc. These also contain antioxidants.
Milk: Plain skimmed milk with a pinch of turmeric/ nutmeg or a tsp of almond powder is a healthier option to calorie laden milkshakes.
Buttermilk: This will help strengthen your teeth and bones. Add a tsp. of crushed flaxseed to boost your omega 3 levels!
Soups: Homemade soups with basic ingredients are nourishing. Make sure to skip the butter, heavy cream, cornflour and maida. Closer home you can even have a cup of warm rasam or daal soup.
Fruit Juice: As discussed, try your best to opt for whole fruit, if you must, then choose a fresh fruit juice minus sugar (or other sweeteners) and with the pulp intact.
High calorie coffees (lattes), sugar laden milkshakes and smoothies, soft drinks, packaged fruit juices, alcohol and protein shakes. If you do need a protein shake, count them into your days’ total calorie intake.
With inputs from:
4. Allison, D. B. (2014). Liquid calories, energy compensation, and weight: what we know and what we still need to learn. The British Journal of Nutrition, 111(3), 384–386. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114513003309
5. Adam Drewnowski, France Bellisle; Liquid calories, sugar, and body weight, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 85, Issue 3, 1 March 2007, Pages 651–661, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/85.3.651