Food Isn’t Making You Fat
By: Emma Brown
Two months ago I threw my bathroom scale out the window.
Granted, I live in a one-story house and it landed safely in a shrub, but I still felt a bit better. Unfortunately, my husband wanted to weigh himself after his shower. As I trudged around the back of the house to retrieve the scale, I reflected on my relationship with it.
Since the birth of my second child, my bathroom scale had become like a critical parent. It seemed that no matter what I did or how hard I tried to lose weight, it never had anything nice to say to me. For a year and a half, I logged every morsel of food in a journal. I was consistently eating around 2,100 calories a day, and I tried to exercise at least four days per week. In all of that time, I had only lost a measly five pounds! I was on the verge of giving up.
The same day I tossed the scale, I was sitting in a restaurant waiting for my best friend to arrive. Though we talk on the phone almost every day, I hadn’t seen her in over six months. To pass the time, I perused the menu. After that morning’s “bathroom scale incident,” I was considering ordering the fettuccini Alfredo, which comes in at a whopping 800 calories for just the lunch portion!).1
Then my friend appeared at the table. I barely recognized her! When she saw my jaw drop, she smiled and told me that she had lost 30 pounds. I begged to know her secret. She said that her weight loss had nothing to do with food or exercise. The only thing she had done was change her beverages. That’s it. No sweating, no starving, and no rice cakes.
I didn’t believe her at first, but she explained that weight loss is actually pretty simple. You just have to put in fewer calories than you burn off. Like me, she had been careful about her diet, but she wasn’t losing weight. Puzzling over her food journal one night, she had a “lightbulb” moment and decided to start keeping a food and beverage journal. After a week of logging both her food and drinks, she found her problem. Though she was meticulously keeping her food intake under 2,100 calories, she was drinking over 600 extra calories every day!
|Glass of orange juice with breakfast||112 calories|
|Lemon Tea Snapple at lunch||160 calories|
|20-ounce Mountain Dew at break||290 calories|
|Glass of white wine with dinner||100 calories|
|Daily Total||662 calories|
My friend was taking in over 30 percent more calories every day than she realized. Like a lot of Americans, including the calories that I was drinking as well as the ones that I was eating had never occurred to me. However, scientists are beginning to understand that all of the added sugar we drink (primarily in soda, fruit juice, and energy drinks) may be a key component in the overweight and obesity epidemics in America.2
In fact, the calories in beverages may be even more deceptive and fattening than food calories. Here’s why:
- The brain actually registers liquid calories differently than solid calories. Scientists theorize that the process of biting and chewing is necessary to trigger satiety in the brain.3
- Beverages don’t fill you up. Studies show that people still eat the same amount of food whether they are drinking 20 ounces of sugary soda or 20 ounces of water.4
- Not only are beverages unable to satisfy your hunger pangs, but sodas actually make you hungrier. A recent study published in “Obesity Research & Clinical Practice Journal,” showed that the carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages causes the gut to increase production of ghrelin (the hunger hormone).5 Consequently, test subjects who drank carbonated beverages actually consumed more food calories than those who drank non-carbonated beverages or tap water.6
When I started thinking about what I was drinking every day, I realized that sugary beverages had been my problem all along. I decided to make some changes. Now I know that water would be the healthiest choice; but I love my Starbucks in the morning, and I simply couldn’t manage without my midday caffeine hit. I decided to make substitutions that wouldn’t leave me feeling deprived.
Here is what I changed:
Old Daily Beverage Choices
New Daily Beverage Choices
|Morning: 1 Grande Café Mocha||260 calories||1 Grande Skinny Cappuccino||80 calories|
|Lunch: 1 Large Sweet Tea||280 calories||1 Large Unsweet Tea w/Stevia||0 calories|
|Midafternoon: 1 20-ounce Coke||240 calories||1 20-ounce Diet Coke||0 calories|
|Total Calories||780 calories||80 calories|
That’s a daily difference of 700 calories. Theoretically, that means I could lose over 70 pounds in one year just by tweaking my beverage choices.7
I started this new plan over two months ago. Since then, the only change that I made to my diet is that I drink lower-calorie beverages. Not only have I already lost seven pounds, but my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms have almost vanished because better beverage choices have eliminated so much sugar from my diet.8 Happily, I am well on my way to fitting back into my pre-maternity jeans, and my relationship with my bathroom scale has never been better.
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 based on the equation 3,500 calories = 1 pound.