Weight Gain: Watch What You Drink (cont.)

4. It is better to eat your carbohydrates than to drink them.

A Purdue University study showed that significant weight gain may occur when we consume carbohydrates as liquids rather than as solid food. In the study, 15 men and women consumed extra carbs each day for four weeks, either as a liquid (soda) or a solid (jelly beans). The rest of the day's intake was up to them. While the study participants didn't decrease their total calorie intake to compensate for the added soda calories, they did compensate naturally for the additional calories eaten as jellybeans.

5. The bottom line to alternative sweeteners.

In discussing the latest research on alternative sweeteners, the April 2006 issue of the Environmental Nutrition newsletter concluded that "one diet drink a day or NutraSweet in your morning coffee is not anything to worry about. But if you regularly consume much more than that or eat several low-calorie foods sweetened with aspartame, Environmental Nutrition suggests consider switching to products that use a less controversial sweetener like sucralose (Splenda) or a sucralose blend."

Low- and No-Calorie Drink Recipes

Cutting back on sweetened drinks really doesn't have to be a big sacrifice. Very-low calorie beverages can be refreshing and delicious. Try these recipes and you'll see what I mean.

50/50 Fizzy Water

Remember those 50/50 bars with orange sherbet on the outside and vanilla ice cream on the inside? That vintage ice cream bar is the essence of this low-calorie drink.

3/4 cup seltzer water, club soda, or fizzy mineral water
1/4 cup orange juice (as fresh as possible)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add water, orange juice, and vanilla extract to a large glass and stir. Add ice cubes as desired.

Yield: 1 serving

Nutrition Information: 28 calories, .4 g protein, 6.5 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, .1 g fiber, 1 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 0%.

Lemon Ginger Iced Green Tea

2 cups water
1 cup Splenda low-calorie sweetener
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
6 green tea bags
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • Add water, Splenda, ground ginger, and lemon peel to medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to where it sustains a gentle boil and cook for about 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat and add the green tea bags. Steep this tea mixture for 10 minutes, stirring or dunking the bags often.
  • Remove tea bags and stir lemon juice into the tea liquid. Cover and refrigerator for up to 1 to 2 weeks.
  • To make a cup of iced tea, pour 1/4 cup of the concentrated tea mixture into a tall glass and stir in 3/4 cup of sparkling or seltzer water or club soda. Add ice cubes and enjoy!

Yield: 1 1/3 cups of syrup (or at least 5 glasses of iced tea)

Nutrition Information: 2 calories, 0 g protein, .7 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, .1 g fiber, 0 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 0%

Recipe provided by Elaine Magee; © 2006 Elaine Magee

Published March 30, 2006

SOURCES: Environmental Nutrition April 2006. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2004, March 2006. Journal of Pediatrics, February 2006. International Journal of Obesity June 2000. WebMD Medical News: "Think before You Drink." Richard J. Johnson, MD, chief of nephrology, hypertension, and transplantation, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Fla.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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