If you have a weight issue and if you drink soda pop, this is one of the most important tips I can offer you: Dump the soda down the drain, right now.
Soda pop is not the only culprit for the rise of obesity in North America, but its effects are menacing to the body because of how the body responds to soda pop.
A single, large glass of almost any soda pop (colas or other sodas) contains about 1/3rd of a cup of sugar. Five grams of sugar is one teaspoon. A can of soda contains anywhere from 25-40 grams of sugar or 5-8 teaspoons! Why is this much sugar bad for you?
When you drink a full can of regular cola (330 ml) you are consuming 130 ‘nutrient-empty’ calories (on average). These calories do nothing for the health of your body. They contain no vitamins, minerals or other healthy properties to help your body function.
What’s worse is that consuming cola has no effect on satiety.
That means, for example, if you are eating to lose or maintain your weight and if you had a cola with your meal, the cola itself will not make you feel any more full. For many people it is the sensation of feeling full, or satisfied that is the sign to stop eating.
If you ate your usual sized meal, let’s say that was 400 calories, and added a 12-oz glass of cola, you will have added an additional 150 ‘empty’ calories and these ‘empty’ calories will most likely convert to body fat.
Another time when people consume soda pop is during a mid-day snack, often with high-sugar or saturated and trans-fat snacks like chips, a muffin, breakfast bars or a donut. We might eat these snacks because we feel tired mid-morning and want a quick fix to bring up our energy.
The problem is that eating in this way spikes insulin, which is the hormone that triggers our body to store fat.
When our insulin comes crashing down from the ‘spike’ we are right back where we started — hungry, sleepy and maybe moody. When we get onto this insulin ‘rollercoaster’ ride, we tend to increase our total daily caloric intake by 500 calories a day. That’s enough to gain a pound of fat a week.
Without going into a lot of detail, what your body really wants when your insulin is low is a balanced meal of protein, healthy fats and nutrient-rich vegetables and/or fruit. Eating a balance meal results in controlled insulin levels and minimal fat storage.
This may not be how you are used to eating, it may seem crazy, and it may even seem like too much trouble. This is when you have to decide how important health is to you — for now and for the long-term.
I cannot make that decision for you. I would, however, advise you to eat as healthy as you can for the long-term benefits. The final word on pop: It’s not advisable to replace regular pop with sugar-free, if for no other reason that it will not help with your sweet-tooth — as some clients have reported to me. You may choose to go ‘cold-turkey’, or to slowly wean yourself off of pop completely.
All things in moderation — Once in a while a pop or a high-sugar snack will not hurt you. You may not want to do so more than a couple of times per week. If you are eating high-sugar meals throughout your day, your insulin levels will be high and you will be consistently converting calories to fat. Instead of pop, get into the habit of drinking purified water and green tea. Fruit drinks are just as bad as pop, since they are filled with sugar. As a bonus tip, here are two sneaky snack foods that contain high amounts of sugar: granola and fruit yogurt. A better, healthier choice is slow-cooking oatmeal and plain yogurt. Eat well to be well!