Can Substituting Sweet Beverages Help You Lose Weight?

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The news that sugary drinks link to being overweight is not new. Back in 2007, AICR’s report concluded there was enough evidence on the link to recommend that we all avoid  sugary beverages.

But suppose all you did was switch out a couple of your sweetened beverages for a diet soda or water? You may lose a few pounds, suggests a new study. The study is among a handful of randomized trials to look at how changing beverages effects weight loss.

You can read the abstract of the study here.

The 318 study participants were all overweight and all drank over 200 calories per day of sugary beverages, such as sodas, sports drinks, and juice. Participants were randomly split into three groups: one group replaced their sweet beverages with water; another group replaced them with diet beverages; the third group, called the Healthy Choice group, was not directed to alter their beverages but they were given general weight-loss information at monthly meetings. (All three groups attended monthly meetings, which is when the two beverage-substituting groups received their drinks.)

After six months, all the groups had lost weight, reduced their waist size, and improved their systolic blood pressure to some degree.  On average, those who substituted no-calorie for calorie beverages had an average weight loss of 2 to 2.5 percent of their body weight. In the substituting beverage groups, about 1 out of 5 people lost 5 percent of their body weight; in the Healthy Choice group, only 1 out of 10 people lost 5 percent.

Participants in the beverage substituting groups cut about two caloric beverages per day. Independently, those in the Healthy Choice group also cut their sweetened beverages, by about one serving per day. That could be why the calorie difference among all three groups was relatively small, note the authors.

AICR’s recommendation to avoid sugary sodas is based on the evidence that sugary beverages link to overweight, and excess body fat is a cause of seven different cancers.

It’s a big issue because Americans drink a lot of sugar sweetened beverages. An August report by the National Center for Health Statistics found that consumption has increased over the past three decades. About half of the population consumes sugary drinks on any given day, ranging from an average of 100 to 200 calories.

For ideas on how to replace your sugary beverages with the non-calorie types, here’s our New American Plate Challenge on the topic. Any ideas that have worked for you? Please share.


Author: Mya Nelson

Mya R. Nelson is at American Institute for Cancer Research, where she writes about the research in the field.

One thought on “Can Substituting Sweet Beverages Help You Lose Weight?”

  1. I know this anecdotal, but for me, stopping all fizzy drinks and sweetened beverages was responsible for me losing over 55 lbs. My blood pressure is better and I get no ‘sugar headaches’ anymore. I did very little else to lose weight except increase my physical activity. Beside my addiction to fizzy drinks, I ate pretty healthily, so didn’t need to change that.

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