Friday, September 14, 2012

Questions And Answers: The Right Beverages If You Are Trying To Lose Weight

I’m always fielding questions from my clients on what they are allowed to drink given their goal of losing weight.  This is actually a very important topic, so I figured I’d use this blog post to answer some of these questions.  I’ll answer each question from both a weight loss and a general health perspective.

Can I Drink Coffee?
Yes!  In the literature, coffee has been shown to have a positive impact on risk of heart disease and stroke.  I’m not too crazy about caffeine, so I have my clients limit their consumption of regular coffee to 1 or 2 cups per day.  Decaf can be consumed in unlimited quantities.  One asterisk here, it is not good to load up on cream, sugar, or nonnutritive sweeteners.  I have my clients use a little milk or light cream and no sugar or nonnutritive sweeteners.   Sugar will spike your blood glucose while the nonnutritive sweeteners will increase cravings for refined carbs.

Can I Drink Orange Juice Or Other Juices
I have my clients eliminate all juices.  When you juice a fruit, you are separating the sugar from the fiber and the glycemic load starts to really increase.  This spikes blood sugar and insulin levels which will negatively impact both your weight and your overall health.  Fruits are unbelievably healthy when eaten in their whole form.  Eat your fruit the way nature intended.

Can I Ever Drink Regular Soda?
Absolutely not.  The large amount of sugar causes blood glucose and insulin to skyrocket. 

What About Diet Soda?
There are several problems with diet soda.  The non-nutritive sweeteners used in these products are well tested and generally safe when consumed in moderate amounts.  However, there are 2 major issues with diet soda:  1) When you strictly limit refined carbohydrate foods like sugar, white bread, and pasta, your craving for them virtually disappears.  Diet soda perpetuates your cravings for sugar and refined carbs so you’ll always be hungry.  2) Humans have the cephalic response.  If you were to put your favorite food on your kitchen table; your eyes see it, your nose smells it, and you release digestive enzymes before you put a bite into you mouth.  There is some evidence that this also happens with diet soda.  Your body senses the sweet taste and releases insulin anyway.  This is exactly what you are trying to limit.  Treat yourself to 1 or 2 diet sodas a week, but not more than that.

Can I Drink Alcohol?
When consumed in moderate amounts, alcohol has been associated with improved health.  The research literature shows that consuming about 1 drink per day reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.  Keep in mind that this amount may also slightly increase risk of breast cancer in women.  I have my weight loss clients limit alcohol consumption to a total of 4 drinks per week.  More than that has the potential to impact their weight.

Well, Than What Can I Drink?
Feel free to drink:
1) Water: filtered tap or bottled.
2) Decaf coffee or tea, either hot or iced.
3) Naturally flavored club soda such as Polar or Poland Spring.  These come in a number of great flavors and have no sugar or non-nutritive sweeteners. 

I know that this isn’t the sexiest of lists, but these choices will keep you hydrated and moving toward the more fit, thin, and awesome version of yourself.