Switch from soda to water and lose weight. When you’re overweight, you’ve often fallen into a habit of eating fatty and sugary foods that are bad for you and only help you put on pounds. Often, you really need to overhaul your diet, but that prospect can be daunting.
For starters, why not swap a couple of your sodas or sugary drinks for water?
It’s only logical. After all, drinking soda means loading sugary calories: One 12-ounce can of soda typically has nine teaspoons of sugar and 140 calories.
People who drink high-sugar beverages on a regular basis tend to have a higher overall calorie intake—and to weigh more, as a consequence.
But this good first step in a long-term weight-loss plan isn’t only commonsense advice—it’s also advise that’s been tested in a lab, too.
A new clinical trial from North Carolina researchers found that replacing sugary drinks with either diet soda or water can really help you lose weight.
On average, people in this study who replaced sodas with water lost at least five percent of their body weight.
While that’s not huge, it’s a step in the right direction, researchers say. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In the study, researchers recruited 318 adults who were significantly obese, on average, and who drank at least 280 liquid calories a day from sweet beverages, aside from milk.
Researchers then randomly assigned participants into one of three groups: one that replaced two of the daily sugary drinks with water, one that replaced two of the sodas with diet beverages, and one that was just given weight-loss advice and allowed to make diet changes of their choice.
All three groups had monthly meetings and access to a group website.
After six months, participants in all three groups had a similar average weight loss—four or five pounds, on average.
But the two groups that stopped drinking sugary drinks were more likely to lose at least five percent of their starting weight. One-fifth or 20 percent of the participants in the two groups that dropped sodas from their diets lost this amount of weight. In contrast, 11 percent of the comparison group lost at least five percent of their starting weight.
A five-percent weight loss is considered “clinically meaningful,” explains lead researcher Deborah F. Tate, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, because it’s enough to bring health benefits like a drop in blood pressure.
What’s more, the “water group” also experienced a drop in their blood sugar and blood pressure levels—more than the diet beverage group.
Tate says it’s unclear why this happens, but notes that the water group had better hydration levels, which might help explain the improved blood pressure.
To find out why, Tate says her group plans to do a longer-term follow-up of the people in this study. Since most participants had typically not been drinking diet beverages before the study, researchers would be able to investigate if switching to diet drinks has any negative effects on blood sugar or other health markers.