Protect Your Health by Cutting Liquid Calories

Water and tea are your steadfast friends when it comes to a healthy eating pattern.

Pouring water into glasses

Medically reviewed in August 2021

Updated on March 14, 2022

When it comes to your health, one simple switch can make all the difference: cut down on liquid calories by drinking water instead of soda and plain tea instead of sweet coffees. The results can be dramatic.

In fact, research shows that cutting beverage calories may lead to more weight loss than cutting food calories. Suddenly, water sounds grand!

Stop downing the soda
In a study of 810 adults published in 2009 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who cut back on sugar-laden beverages like soda, fruit punch, and other sweetened drinks shed more pounds than the folks who kept sipping the sweet stuff during their dieting efforts. In fact, cutting out one daily serving of sugar-sweetened drinks was associated with weight loss of roughly 1 pound after 6 months and nearly 1.5 pounds after 18 months.

Researchers suspected that cutting back on beverage calories was more effective than cutting back on food calories because solid food does a better job of satisfying hunger than liquids do. Liquids fill you with calories but aren't good at making you feel satiated. It's also possible that the fructose in sugary drinks may boost fat storage and lead to hormone changes that increase overall food intake.

Reasons to sip less
Of course, ditching soda and fruit punch isn't a cure-all. The best eating patterns are nutritious, heart-healthy ones that cut overall calories in a way you can sustain long term.

Article sources open article sources

Hu FB. Resolved: there is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases. Obes Rev. 2013;14(8):606-619. 
Liwei Chen, Lawrence J Appel, Catherine Loria, Pao-Hwa Lin, Catherine M Champagne, Patricia J Elmer, Jamy D Ard, Diane Mitchell, Bryan C Batch, Laura P Svetkey, Benjamin Caballero. Reduction in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight loss: the PREMIER trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 89, Issue 5, May 2009, Pages 1299–1306.
Rendeiro C, Masnik AM, Mun JG, et al. Fructose decreases physical activity and increases body fat without affecting hippocampal neurogenesis and learning relative to an isocaloric glucose diet. Sci Rep. 2015;5:9589. Published 2015 Apr 20.

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