Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the effects of replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages as a method of weight loss over a 6 month study period.
Methods: 318 overweight and obese men and women who consumed at least 280 daily calories in beverage form were recruited for this study. Subjects were placed into one of three groups:
Group 1 replaced 2 servings of soda per day with water.
Group 2 replaced 2 servings of soda per day with diet soda.
Group 3 was a control group that received general weight loss advice but no specific instructions on beverages.
The intervention lasted for 6 months and then weight was measured. Replacement beverages were provided to all study participants in replacement groups.
Results: At the end of the 6 months, all three groups had lost weight. However, participants assigned to beverage replacement were two times as likely to have achieved a 5% weight loss when compared to the control group.
Discussion: It appears that our body is not very good at registering calories in liquid form. Studies show that when we snack on solid food, most people will generally compensate by eating fewer calories the rest of the day. This does not seem to happen with liquid calories. When the same people received snacks in liquid form, they did not eat any less throughout the rest of the day. This study provides further evidence that liquid calories are usually just added to what we would normally eat in a day.
Take Home Message: If you are trying to lose weight, dump the liquid calories. Stick with water, decaf coffee/tea or naturally flavored sparkling water. Don’t go too crazy with the diet sodas-- they have some issues of their own. (To learn more about non-nutritive sweeteners, check out this post)