A major new review published in The BMJ looking at many scientific studies has come up with a startling verdict on diet sodas, and foods that replace sugar with sweeteners: they may not help you to lose weight – at all. Drinks companies, in particular are under fire for packing their products with enough sugar to create insulin resistance by drinking just one can a day, and raising your risk for type 2 diabetes by 46%, according to a 2016 study by Tufts University.
Realising they were in a sticky situation, some companies have recently cut cut sugar levels in drinks, but they have replaced it with sweeteners, increasing the trend for diet drinks and ‘reduced sugar’ foods. Now, the Cochrane review has revealed that despite the calorie cut, there is no evidence that diet drinks and artificial or natural sweeteners will help you to lose weight, and may even be harming you. So, what’s going on and how can you adjust your lifestyle to lose fat through nutrition? Read on to find out…
There was no evidence that diet drinks and sweeteners help you to lose weight
How come diet drinks don’t help me cut my belly fat? While it’s true that consuming fewer calories over a whole day will help you to lose weight, the Cochrane review of 56 studies found no evidence that using diet drinks and sweeteners helped people to lose weight or become healthier. It may be that drinking sweet drinks just encourages you to consume more sugar overall – whatever the reason they seem to hinder rather than help.
Why is my insulin response important for fat loss? Consuming too much sugary food and drink (or food high on the glycemic index) can create insulin resistance in your body. So, when the body produces insulin your cells are unable to use it as effectively, and remove glucose from your blood. This creates high blood sugar levels, causing you to put on body fat and giving you a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
How can I keep my blood sugar levels down? Having a sweet tooth doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have high blood sugar levels. Some fruits taste sweet but are actually quite low on the glycemic index/ load charts – just don’t overdo it. ‘Eat fruit as a healthy snack. Although non-dried fruit contains natural sugars, most have a low to moderate glycaemic index and do not raise blood glucose levels excessively. A study involving 38,000 people found those eating at least one apple a day were 28% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those eating no apples,’ says Dr Sarah Brewer who works with CuraLife.
What if I already eat fruit – is there something else I can do every day? Yes, switch from ‘white’ carbs to wholegrain versions that release energy slowly. ‘The carbohydrates in wholemeal bread are broken down slowly over several hours and so do not give any sudden flooding of sugars into the bloodstream. Also, this gradual release helps you to feel fuller for longer, suppressing your appetite and stopping you craving sweet foods because you are not on the blood sugar rollercoaster,’ says leading nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville.
And don’t assume that because something is ‘savoury’ it will be low in the glycemic index – eating mashed potato, for instance, is a basically like chowing down on a bowl of fluffy candy.
Detox doesn’t work unless you count ‘ghost’ weight loss that immediately reverses when you stop
What about detoxing? Can that be a quick fix to shift some festive pounds? No, not unless you count short-term ‘ghost’ weight loss that reverses as soon as you stop your overly restrictive, misery-making ‘detox’ diet. Nutritionist Alix Woods recommends adopting a lifestyle change with a long-term eating plan that limits processed, high fat sugary foods, and includes organic, nutrient dense and pesticide free vegetables, occasional fruit and fibrous whole grains. He also advises making time for exercise, quality sleep and good hydration, while avoiding obvious ‘toxic’ culprits like caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
‘Detoxing may often lead to feelings of lethargy, headaches, confusion, malaise, hunger pains, low mood and low productivity. Cellular water loss occurs, resulting in temporary weight loss, which for most people returns once eating normally. Nutrition and nourishment are also absent and therefore a detox is not the healthiest option,’ says Woods.
What about healthier sweet drinks, like fruit juices? It’s true that fruit juice contains vitamins but chugging a large glass every morning will still be enough to spike your blood sugar levels, partly due to the lack of fibre. Try chucking some water or milk, berries (which are low GI/ GL) and a small beetroot (peeled and raw is fine) into a blender for a healthy, fibre-packed morning smoothie alternative to juice. ‘Beetroots have been found to increase plasma nitrate levels, which increase stamina and physical performance, helping one to lose weight,’ says Alix Woods.
WHAT NEXT? Want a two-week belly-busting and strength-building workout to help you realise your New Year health resolutions? Then check out this exclusive RSNG plan from The Badass System’s Max Cotton…
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.
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