A fizzy drink with your main meal could be making you fat

Faith Castro
July 26, 2017

Each meal was accompanied with a sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened drink. They have been linked to not only increased weight gain, but also to tooth decay, diabetes, and even heart disease.

It's impossible to avoid sugar nowadays and whether it's in your food or in your drink, it's hard to get away from it.

This consumption during meal time has been the topic of study as of late.

Expressing her surprise at the outcome of the combination, lead author Shanon Casperson from USDA-Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Centre in the USA said, "We were surprised by the impact that the sugar-sweetened drinks had on metabolism when they were paired with higher-protein meals".

The researchers said that about a third of the additional calories provided by the sugar-sweetened drinks were not expended, consequently fat metabolism was reduced, and it took less energy to metabolise the meals.

"We were surprised by the impact that the sugar-sweetened drinks had on metabolism when they were paired with higher-protein meals", lead study author Shanon Casperson, a research biologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, said in a statement.

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Their research involved 27 male and female participants of a healthy weight with an average age of 23. All the meals had the same amount of fat and worked out to the same amount of calories (500 total).

Love that sugary, fizzy drink with your burger? These measurements allowed the researchers to calculate how the foods the participants ate affected their metabolism, including how many calories they burned and how they broke down fat, protein and carbohydrates.

During their other stay in the room, the participants were served breakfast and lunch meals that each contained 30 percent protein.

They also discovered that of the calories absorbed from the drinks, only 80 of the 120 kcals were expended, which lead to a build up of 40 kcals regardless of level of protein in the meal. Pairing sugary drinks like sweetened fruit juices can cause the body to store more fat, and also adversely affect energy balance.

The results, she said, showed that adding a sugar drink didn't make the participants feel fuller either, meaning that they were more likely to crave more sugary or salty snacks in the four hours after eating protein and drinking the sweet drink. This extra ingesting of calories lead to reduced fat oxidation, providing insight into how sugar-sweetened drinks have led over a third of the US population to become obese.

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