Don’t Drink Your Calories
When we’re thirsty, most of us have a huge range of beverages to choose from, but many of these are doing a lot more than quenching our thirst. What regular drinkers of sweetened beverages may not realise is they are adding to their daily energy (or calorie) intake.
Australians are drinking a lot of sugar in the form of sweetened beverages. In fact, it’s the largest source of sugars in the Australian diet. What may seem like an innocent couple of cans of soft drink a day can lead to weight gain, type II diabetes and tooth decay. Take a look at the table below to see how many teaspoons of sugar are in some popular sugary drinks. And fruit juice isn’t exempt from the list. What we traditionally have perceived as a health drink is actually a glass of fructose, with the sugar levels just as high as a soft drink.
We use the term ‘empty calories’ when referring to the calories in sugary drinks. This means that the body and brain don’t register the body is full after drinking hundreds of calories, so you end up consuming more calories than you may have if you didn’t drink the ‘empty calories’. This may be because of the hormone ghrelin, which is in the stomach and tells the brain when you’re hungry. The catch is, it only works with solid food, not liquids. Our bodies are not designed to drink calories.
What about sugar alternatives in diet drinks? You would think they’d be fine if you’re just talking calories, but studies are starting to show a link between artificially sweetened drinks and weight gain. This could be because the sweet taste of these drinks stimulates the appetite for other sweet food so may lead to people eating more food high in sugar and calories. Although the jury is still out on artificially sweetened beverages, there’s enough association to assume they are not the healthier alternative.
What should you drink when you’re thirsty? Water will always come up trumps. Water not only doesn’t affect your waistline, it helps lift your energy levels, focus, mood, it hydrates every cell of your body and is even good for sore muscles. A good idea is to buy a good water bottle and carry it everywhere with you so you have it on-hand.
If you’re not convinced, here’s another great article on the benefits of giving up sugary drinks.
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