By Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS
At least 7 scientific studies have provided strong evidence that energy containing beverages (i.e., “liquid calories”) do not properly activate the satiety mechanisms in the body and brain and do not satisfy the appetite as well as food in solid form.
Epidemiological research also supports a positive association between calorie-containing beverage consumption and increased body weight or body mass index. New research now suggests that soda may not be the only culprit…
The primary source of liquid calories in the United States Diet is carbohydrate, namely soda. Now running a close second are specialty and dessert coffees. Did you know that a 16 ounce Frappucino can contain 500 calories or even more! That’s one-third of a typical female’s daily calorie intake while on a fat loss program.
A recent study at Purdue University published in the International Journal of Obesity set out to learn even more about this bodyfat - liquid calories relationship.
Researchers compared solid and beverage forms of foods composed primarily of carbohydrate, fat or protein in order to document the independent effect of food form in foods with different dominant macronutrient sources.
Based on previous research, some experts have recommended targeting specific beverages as being “worse” than others. High fructose corn syrup and soda has been singled out the most and you’ve probably seen that yourself in the news.
There’s no question that soda has been on top of the “hit list” for some time now, by virtue of the amounts and frequency of consumption alone.
However, this recent study says that from a pure energy balance perspective, we should be cautious about ALL liquid calories, not just soda and not just carbohydrates!
Fruit juice for example, appears to be an obvious improvement over soda, so many people have swapped out their soda for fruit juice. However, when fruit juice is compared to an equal amount of calories from whole fruit, the whole fruit satisfies appetite better (largely due to the bulk and fiber content), and so you tend to eat fewer calories for the day.
[On an interesting side note, soup does not seem to apply; soup has higher satiety value than calorie containing beverages, possibly for mere cognitive reasons.]
If you were to meticulously track your calories from beverages and you made sure that your calories remained the same for the day, whether liquid or solid, there would probably be little or no difference in your body composition.
But that’s not what usually happens in free-living humans. Most people do not accurately track or report their caloric intake. Our mistake is that we tend to drink calories IN ADDITION TO our usual food intake, not instead of it.
Men are especially guilty of this when they drink alcohol - Men tend to drink AND eat, while women tend to drink INSTEAD OF eating.
This new research found that with all three macronutrients - protein, carbs or fat - daily calorie intake was significantly greater when the beverage form was consumed as compared to the solid.
Yes, it’s true! Even protein drinks did not satisfy the appetite the way that protein foods did!
While you would think that protein drinks are purely a good thing, because protein foods have been proven to reduce appetite and increase satiety, if you turn a solid protein food into a protein drink, it loses it’s appetite suppressive properties in the same way that happens when you turn fruit into fruit juice.
[NOTE: After weight training workouts, liquid nutrition may have benefits that outweigh any downside, especially on muscle-gaining programs]
Why do liquid calories fail to elicit the same response as whole foods? reasons include:
- high calorie density
- lower satiety value
- more calories ingested in short period of time
- lower demand for oral processing
- shorter gastrointestinal transit times
- energy in beverages has greater bioaccessibility and bioavailability
- mechanisms may include cognitive, orosensory, digestive, metabolic, endocrine and neural influences (human appetite is a complex thing!!!)
- last but not least, nowhere in our history have our ancestors had access to large amounts of liquid calories. Alcohol may have been around as far back as several thousand years BC, but even that is a blip on the evolutionary calendar of humanity.
As a result, our genetic code has never developed the physiological mechanisms to properly register the caloric content in liquids the way it does when you eat, chew and swallow whole foods.
Bottom line: This study suggests that we shouldn’t just target one type of liquid calories such as soda. If you’re trying to beat body fat, it’s wise to limit all types of liquid calories and eat whole foods as much as possible.
Start by ditching the soda. Then ditch the high calorie dessert coffees. Then cut back on the alcohol. From there, be cautious even about milk, juice and protein drinks.
Drink water or tea instead, or limited amounts of black coffee - without all the high calorie extras.
If you do consume any beverages that contain calories, such as protein shakes, be sure to account for those calories meticulously and be sure you don’t drink them in addition to your usual food intake, but in place of an equal amount of food calories.
Remember, those protein shakes you might be drinking are called “meal replacements” not “free calories!”
For many years I have suggested focusing primarily on whole foods rather than liquids, even protein shakes. Unlike so many other fat reduction programs, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle does not require any kind of liquid meal replacement or protein drinks and our company does not exist to sell supplements; we are here to educate you and millions of others about the realities of body fat loss.
We now have even more scientific data that confirms what Burn The Fat has been teaching all along.
I hope you found this helpful. You can learn more about “Burn The Fat” at www.BurnTheFat.com
Train hard and expect success,
Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS
Fat Loss Coach
Fat Loss Coach
Reference: Effects of food form on appetite and energy intake in lean and obese young adults. International Journal of Obesity. 2007 Nov (11):1688-95. Mourao DM, Bressan J, Campbell WW, Mattes RD. Department of Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059, USA.
About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, certified personal trainer and freelance fitness writer. Tom is the author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle,” which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using secrets of the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting: www.burnthefat.com