Beware Calories In A Glass, Or Bottle, Or Can

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on May 6, 2011 · 1 comment

At most restaurants drink refills are free. You’ll quickly get more soda and coffee without even asking. You get more, so you drink more. You’re thinking: It’s free, so why shouldn’t I drink it?  Because liquid calories may be making you fat. In fact, they may be making the entire country fat, because we don’t process calories from drinks the same way we process calories from food.

Liquid calories can be classified into 4 groups based on their effect on our feeling of satisfaction and their effect on the total amount of calories we eat.

Liquids like soup have a high satisfaction value and we eat less food if we start a meal with soup. A chunky soup or a bowl of soup versus a cupful both decrease the amount of food we eat in the rest of the meal. Soup has actually been suggested as a weight loss intervention.

Liquid meals or meal replacement beverages are the second group. They may be used to help someone gain weight or lose weight. Their satisfaction value is less than solid food, which means a person may still eat after drinking the liquid meal. This is good if you want someone to gain weight, such as a person recovering from an illness. But, not the best choice if you are hoping for weight loss by drinking a diet meal in a can.

The next 2 groups are the real trouble makers – alcoholic drinks and clear liquids. Alcoholic drinks can be very calorie dense. In addition, when ordered before a meal alcohol increases hunger while decreasing satisfaction. Add a glass of wine before dinner and you’ll eat more food. Some studies have shown that when alcoholic drinks are added to a meal the calorie intake can go up by as much as 40%.

Calorie-containing clear drinks – soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, coffee and tea – all have a very low satisfaction value. The more you are offered the more you drink. Up to 20% of our daily calories come from these drinks with soda being the single largest source of calories in the US diet, contributing close to 300 calories daily. Interestingly, those 300 extra calories each day are exactly what some researchers are pointing to as the cause of the obesity epidemic in the US population. The increased intake of calorie-containing clear drinks has paralleled our sharp rise in weight gain over the last three decades.

At the same time, the portion size of beverages has grown. We went from an 8-ounce bottle of Coke to unlimited soda refills served in a quart-sized glass. A small coffee now averages 10 ounces. Add cream and sugar and your small coffee equals 100 calories. Multiply that by 3 or 4 servings a day and you start to see why it’s hard to lose weight. And few of us ever order “small.”

Researchers have concluded that calories from drinks are poorly regulated and the source of extra calories. Why this happens is an unanswered question in nutrition research. But you don’t need to wait for an answer. Choose low or no calorie drinks. Dilute fruit drinks with mineral water. Skip the whipped toppings, cream and other add-ons when ordering coffee.  Drink water, it’s thirst quenching and calorie free.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Atul August 17, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Even with the approved drug crash dnitieg always results in gaining the weight back.Slow and steady with a healthy diet of complete foods and moderate exercise always work.


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