The ingredients in your daily soda may suprise you
What sugar has to do with all of it
Is diet better than regular?
I know Americans love their soft drinks, but have you ever stopped to think, “What is in that drink?” The answer might surprise you. It doesn’t matter if it is regular or diet. There are some things in all kinds of sodas that you should know. (more…)
- Both regular and diet sodas contribute to tooth decay and weakened enamel
- Sodas create an insulin response that readily converts the sugar from the drink into fat
- Those who eat (or drink) artificial sweeteners actually eat more sugar calories throughout the day than those who don’t
When people are stressed they sometimes reach for a soft drink, but have you ever stopped to think, “What’s in this drink?” The answer might surprise you. It doesn’t matter if it is regular or diet. There are some things in all kinds of soft drinks that may stress you out.
More Trips to the Dentist
If going to the dentist causes you anxiety, consider that the first ingredient in any soda is carbonated water. Most manufactured drinks create this carbonation artificially by forcing carbon dioxide into the water. This may change the pH in your mouth to weaken and slowly dissolve the enamel in your teeth.
Research has also shown that even though diet drinks resulted in less tooth decay, they were no less acidic than regular drinks and contributed to destroying children’s teeth from the outside. Studies found that teenagers drinking four or more glasses a day increase their risk of decay by 513 percent, which is significant considering 92 percent of 14-year-olds consume fizzy drinks. The next big concern in sodas is sugar. (You drink diet? You may need to be more concerned. Hang on, I’ll tell you why.)
Sending Your Cells into Shock
A serving size for soft drinks is usually 8 ounces or a cup. The bottle of Sunkist I have in my hand has about 130 calories per serving, but it has 2.5 servings in the bottle. Most people don’t stop drinking at 8 ounces; they finish the whole thing which means they are drinking 325 calories, not 130.
Since there is usually no protein or fat in sodas, all of these calories must come from sugar. That is about 20 teaspoons worth, almost a half a cup of sugar! Most sodas have at least 12-15 teaspoons of sugar (a little more than a fourth of a cup). Sure, it tastes yummy, but the quick rise in blood sugar creates these changes in your body within 60 minutes of drinking the soda!
To add insult to injury, when your blood sugar rises quickly, your pancreas produces insulin to try to clean up the mess and get the sugar out of the bloodstream. Water is taken from cells in other parts of your body to try to dilute it (so much for great hydration). In a little while, your blood sugar drops just as fast as it was rising. The end result is that the ¼ to ½ cup of sugar you drank is immediately and easily converted to fat. To make matters worse, because your blood sugar has dropped, you’re hungry and ready for another snack, even though you could already be packing on extra pounds.
In the long run, when people go through this sugar-insulin cycle too many times, they get problems like insulin resistance or sensitivity, irritability, depression, headaches, or lethargy. They also get diseases like diabetes, heart illness, and obesity. These are diseases that kill people, no stress there!
A Different Type of Sugar
After saying all of that, there is still more to soft drinks that might stress you out. The type of sugar in soft drinks is a huge negative. Most sodas are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is a sugar our bodies are not designed to digest in large amounts, yet our nation has increased its fructose consumption by more than 10,673% between the years 1970 to 2005. Fructose is a major problem for the liver, and studies show that this type of sweetener actually lessons the effect of the hormone called leptin, which is supposed to tell you that you’re full! It also stimulates the hormone ghrelin, which tells you you’re hungry! So your brain doesn’t get the message that you are full, and your body continues to crave things like, you guessed it, more sugar!
Diet soft drinks are sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Some of the common brands of sweeteners that use aspartame are Equal, NutraSweet, and Splenda. These products still stimulate your brain and digestive system by making them think sugar calories are coming. Since they never do, your brain seems to stay on the lookout for sugar throughout the day to fill that need.
Studies have shown that those who use artificial sweeteners actually eat more sugar calories during the day than people who don’t use artificial sweeteners! And more sugar means more calories, more weight gain, and more stress.
Other Ingredients in Soft Drinks
Of course, there are other magnificent ingredients in sodas, including caffeine and phosphoric acid.
Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive stimulant drug in the world. It is found naturally in some foods where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants.
I think we all understand that caffeine can be addictive, and addictions can increase anxiety for everyone. I had a roommate in college who went through caffeine withdrawals when she tried to give up Diet Coke. We didn’t like her very much. She had headaches, she was insanely irritable, and she couldn’t sleep. It was awful.
Phosphoric acid is an acidifying agent used to give colas their tangy flavor and is also commonly used to remove rust. Because of the addition of phosphoric acid in soft drinks, they are actually more acidic than lemon juice and vinegar. This acid has been linked to lower bone density and risk for osteoporosis and bone disease. Aside from the risk of osteoporosis, cola consumption has also been linked to chronic kidney disease and to kidney stones.
The bottom line is there is nothing nutritionally good for you or your loved ones in soft drinks. They cost a lot, they are empty calories, they may be addictive, they take the place of other more nutritious foods, they contribute to cavities and chronic disease, and in the long run, they don’t seem to be the best answer for you when you feel stressed out.
Think before you drink!
- When restrictions are placed on foods, those are the foods you focus on
- Restricting calories leads to a rise in cortisol – a stress hormone
- Irregular cortisol levels can also alter blood sugar and metabolism which leads to weight gain
“That which you resist, tends to persist” – and gets bigger.
Ever noticed that the longer you battle a craving, the stronger it gets?
Suddenly, the thought of a satisfying piece of chocolate becomes the uncontrollable urge to eat the whole bag.
A recent study showed this result when they asked three groups of female college students to think about chocolate, avoid thinking about chocolate, or think about whatever they wanted.
Guess who ended up eating the most chocolate?
Yep, it was the group that tried to avoid thinking about it.1
- Sports drinks are a great way to replace glycogen and electrolytes lost during exercise
- Sports drinks are full of sugar and may increase the insulin response in kids who haven’t been exercising
- If you are going to exercise for 45 minutes or more, supplementing with a sports drink may be a good idea
Sports drinks are different from protein drinks, meal replacement drinks, vitamin drinks, recovery drinks, fitness waters, endurance drinks, and recreational drinks like Kool-Aid and colas.
Each drink has a specific purpose, but the purpose of quality sports drinks is three fold.
2. Replacing glycogen stores (sugar that is stored in the liver and muscles)
3. Replacing electrolytes
The Beginning of Sport Drinks
We will use Gatorade as our example because it was the first of the major sports drinks.
It was created by physicians and researchers at the University of Florida in 1965 to combat some of the problems facing the school’s football team.
The players were suffering from cramps, exhaustion and a host of other problems caused by training in the area’s hot and humid conditions.
The researchers discovered that the players were not drinking enough water or replacing the electrolytes and glycogen that was lost through sweat and exercise. (more…)
- When we go on a restrictive diet, the brain restricts fat cell release to retain energy in case of famine
- Most of the weight lost in the first week or two of a diet is water weight
- Most people who lose weight by dieting gain it back plus more within a year
Our ancestors had to physically work hard for their food.
The foods that they ate provided calories, but rarely the surplus of calories that we easily find in our foods today.
There were also times of shortage, or famine when food was scarce and they went hungry.
Through the ages, the DNA in our cells has remembered that.
This is part of the reason our bodies crave fatty – sugary “comfort foods.”
Sugar is easily converted into fat and fat is easily stored. Fat stores were great news for our ancestors.
Today, our bodies still prefer to have fat reserves because that increases the chance of survival. They reward us with “feel good” chemicals like dopamine, whenever we eat, or have sex, or do anything that furthers human survival.
Dopamine is the same “feel good” chemical that the body releases when people consume alcohol, cocaine, or any addictive drug. In other words, we really do feel good when we eat those foods!
Mind Over Matter?
When we volunteer for famine by going on a diet and rigorously restrict calories, (not just cut back a bit on sweets), our brain goes on the defensive. It will not direct fat cells to release those stores without a fight. So people who go on diets end up battling with their own brain.
Mind over matter isn’t just will power anymore.
The brain automatically responds to cues in the environment to signal the body to prepare to eat. Smells, the time of day, the food we see all indicate to the brain that food is on its way. When your brain sees food it automatically calculates how filling it is most likely to be and it sends signals to the stomach to squeeze out whatever is left from lunch to make room for dinner.
We get hungry. We eat. We are happy.
Why Diets Seem Successful
In the short term, most diets appear to be successful because the brain will not release fat. Instead, when your body needs energy, it releases glucose supplies from the liver. Glucose is the sugar that muscles use and is almost instant energy. But glucose is stored in water and when it is released, water is released too. During the first week or two, dieters often urinate an extra two pints of water a day and that is a lot of weight.
This is why many diets claim to be successful, because people lose 10 to 15 pounds the first week or two. The problem is they are losing water weight, not fat. If the dieter stays true to the diet, the brain may take desperate measures. Hunger pangs surge, dieters become irritable, all they can think about is food, and their weight loss plateaus.
To make matters worse, the brain directs the body to “slow down” so it can keep its fat reserves. Metabolism drops. You burn fewer calories doing the same activities that you did before.
This is the opposite of what you want to happen. This may eventually lead to the “splurge” that replaces glucose stores, and water, and the weight that was lost is suddenly back again.
The way the body responds to dieting may explain why those who skip breakfast, tend to eat more calories throughout the day than those who eat a healthy breakfast. Perhaps, when the body starts out with a good meal, it isn’t as worried about famine and gathering food for the rest of the day. (There are more scientific reasons, but I like this one.)
The truth is that most people who lose weight by dieting, gain it back again within a year, plus two to five pounds because the body will prepare for another famine. Many people who “diet” every year, no matter how much weight they lose, tend to weigh 20 to 50 pounds heavier after 10 to 15 years.
Old Habits Die Hard
The other problem with dieting is that people usually go back to their old eating habits when the desired weight is lost, the same eating habits that got them into trouble the first time. Eating unhealthy after restricting calories can be detrimental to a person’s health, depriving them of much needed nutrients needed to repair and maintain the body.
If you have experienced any of this, don’t be discouraged! There is a way to lose weight and keep it off permanently. You can train your fat cells to release the grease!
- Advertising on meats can be misleading and unless you know how to look at the label, it could fool you
- You can figure out the percentage of fat by dividing the total fat calories by the total calories
- Choose foods based on what you know, rather than what the advertisers tell you
If you care about what you eat, and you want to be a savvy consumer, you are going to have to learn not only to READ packages and labels, but how to FIGURE THEM OUT.
Don’t let this cause you chronic anxiety!
As far as fats go, here is the skinny on figuring out how much of it is actually in your food.
Let’s say you pick up a package of hamburger. It says 85% fat free.
Wow, you think, this is only 15% fat. That is low fat and good for my family. What a great buy.
Hold on! That amount is dreadfully misleading because it is the amount of fat “BY WEIGHT,” not by calories.
The advertiser is telling you that 15% of the weight of that meat is fat, not the percentage of calories from fat. Big Difference!
Remember fat doesn’t weigh very much at all, (that’s why it floats) but it is packed with calories. Protein on the other hand is very heavy but it contains less than half of the calories fat does. Fat has 9 calories per gram, and protein has only 4 calories per gram.
If you take that package of so called “85% fat free” meat and gaze at the nutrition information on the label, you will find a much different message.
Read the Label
Look at the label and find the number of total calories and the number of total fat calories. These are listed per serving.
On the label I am looking at right now, it says 190 total calories and 100 fat calories. That alone tells you something. There are 100 fat calories per serving in this “85% fat free” meat!
Take the fat calories and divide it by the total calories or 100/190.
You will find the real percentage of fat in that hamburger. In this case it is .526315789 or almost 53% fat!
Now it doesn’t seem like such a bargain. In other words, 53% of what you are eating is animal lard. (Quite a different story than 85% fat free).
When it says Lean
Let’s try it again. I am looking at another label that says “71% lean” on the top of the hamburger package. But when I look at the nutrition facts I find that is has 250 calories per serving and 170 total fat calories. That is a lot of calories and here is why.
By dividing the total fat calories by the total calories, 170/250 I get .68. That means 68% of this meat is fat! Imagine dividing the hamburger up into 10 pieces. Almost seven of those pieces would be just plain fat!
It gets worse with those big, inexpensive “family packs” of hamburger. Ever wonder why the meat is so much lighter in color and less expensive? Some of those packs can be up to 90% fat! Suddenly, it doesn’t seem like something you want to feed your family.
It is true that when we cook it, most of us drain off some of that saturated fat, (although many restaurants don’t), and so we don’t really eat all of It. But we usually don’t drain 53%, or 68%, or 90%, of what we cook, so we still end up eating quite a bit of fat.
This is why it is important to realize that the labels are misleading unless you know how to figure them out.
Another label I am looking at says this hamburger has 4% fat (we know that is by weight) so when I do the calculations, it really comes out to 29% fat calories. It is still almost one third fat per serving.
Milk labels read the same way. You may have wondered if there was a big difference between 2% and 1% and skim milk.
Well, that 2% fat on the milk label means 2% of the weight of that product is fat. Milk is mostly water and so fat is a small percentage of the weight of milk. Water weighs a lot, but doesn’t have any calories, so the calories you are getting are from protein, carbohydrates and fat. When you look at the actual label and calculate the actual fat calories, it comes out closer to 40%, depending on the cow that gave the milk. That means 40% of the calories in that glass of 2% milk are fat calories.
In 1% milk, it is closer to 20% of the calories that come from fat. (Again, it depends on the cow.) For skim milk, there are no fat calories at all, just calories from carbohydrates and protein.
This may seem confusing at first, but it is well worth the effort to do some calculations in the supermarket. Figuring out the real percentage of fat in the food will help you make better food choices. You can easily get less fat in your diet without changing it drastically.
Just choose foods based on what you know, rather than what the advertisers tell you.