The answer given to most people when they ask about weight loss is to eat less and exercise more. The reality is that this is true for most people but the reality is more complicated- much more complicated, in fact- and deals with multiple body systems and organs from the brain to the liver. Being that as it may, the basic premise of taking in less calories is necessary for fat loss.
There are many ways to take in more calories than needed. The easiest- and often most overlooked- way is by drinking it. Sodas and juices(including fruit juices, iced teas, etc) are the easiest way to take in excess calories. A 20 oz bottle of soda is about 250-300 calories and has about 70g of sugar. That one bottle of soda has roughly 12-18% of the daily calorie intake of an average person(other juices aren’t much better). Furthermore, the amount of sugar(high fructose corn syrup) in the soda goes a long way to planting the seeds of insulin resistance, eventually leading to metabolic syndrome and possibly diabetes.
Many are aware of the issues caused by the sugar heavy sodas and juices and have switched over to zero calorie and no sugar diet sodas and juices. However, these artificially sweetened beverages have a unique set of problems. I’m not going to demagogue artificial sweeteners because there is conflicting evidence as to the safety of apartame, sucralose(Splenda) and other artificial sweeteners. Regardless of the long-term safety(I haven’t seen a conclusive study that they’re irredeemably harmful or perfectly benign), another aspect of artificial sweeteners that is overlooked is the affect that it has on the brain when it comes to the regulation of appetite. Recent studies have shown that artificial sweeteners may affect the portion of the brain which determines when you are “full” and cause a person to eat more by way of the food reward mechanism.
So what does one drink?
1. Water is nature’s beverage of choice, of course. Drink it often.
2. Teas of all types are fair game- green tea in particular, which has been shown to have a myriad of benefits ranging from anti-oxidants to having compounds which are very effective in fat loss. Make sure to brew your own. Do not buy it in a bottle or container and believe you are getting the same thing.
3. Coffee is a tricky one. Contrary to popular belief, coffee has a myriad of benefits including the fact it is effective as an aid for fat loss. The one caveat that I will throw in here is that if you are a high stress or “wired” individual, coffee may increase your cortisol response which potentially leads to weight gain.
Being that many do not drink coffee or tea without a sweetener, the sweetener that I recommend is stevia. It is all natural and actually has health benefits, including increasing insulin sensitivity– a major factor in fat loss.
So, a big step towards a healthier you is to get rid of sodas and juices out of your life. Whether you can quit cold turkey or you have to wean yourself off, the goal is to be totally rid of them.