Is Carbonated Water Making You Fat?

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The latest scientific research suggests carbonated water leads to weight gain. Here is why and what to do about it. 

How bad could water with bubbles really be? 

I grew up in a family of seltzer drinkers. We always had bottles of the plain or lemon and lime, and I loved the way the little bubbles felt going down. I’d order a club soda whenever I’d go out to a club or bar in college when I didn’t want to drink. It was way more exciting than water, and healthier than soda…or so I thought. (I should also note that most of the people in my family were obese at the time, and I myself was 20 pounds overweight.) 

All too often I meet people who guzzle carbonated water (like I used to) -whether sparkling water, seltzer, or club soda – thinking it’s healthy, and not much different than water. But, it’s very different.

The Research That Links Carbonated Water to Weight Gain

A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice in 2017, found that rats that were given carbonated water or diet soda, released more of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin, ate more, and ultimately gained more weight than those that drank flat (degassed) water or tap water.

The researchers from Birzeit University fed a group of rats a standard diet, but separated them into four groups and gave each group one of four possible drinks: tap water, flat (degassed) soda water, soda water, and diet soda.  

The rats that were fed either of the two carbonated beverages, were found to have significantly higher levels of ghrelin – which your stomach secretes when it’s empty – prompting them to eat 20 percent more than the other rats.

The rats that drank the fizzy water also showed a build up of fat in their organs, which is one of the symptoms of chronic obesity in humans.

A similar experiment was repeated with human participants. One hour after eating, participants drank one of the four beverages. When they drank the carbonated beverages, they had ghrelin levels six times higher than when they drank tap water. 

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that, “This study clearly shows discernible effect of the carbon dioxide gas in carbonated drinks on increased food ingestion and heightened risk of weight gain, obesity and fatty liver disease by inducing ghrelin release.”

 

So, Wait. Should I Never Drink Sparkling Water?

The results don’t suggest that you can never again enjoy a sparkling water for as long as you live. What they do suggest, though, is that if your daily water intake comes in the form of sparkling water, and you want to lose weight, you should remove it and switch to regular water.

If you do choose to have sparkling water from time to time, since it could make you hungrier, be mindful of what and how much you’re eating. 

So What to Replace Your Sparkling Water Habit With?

The number one choice is of course regular ol’ filtered water. If that’s “too boring” or bland try some of these ideas to jazz it up:

  • Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime.
  • Make it a Spa Water, by steeping fresh fruit of choice in a pitcher of water, such as cucumber and mint. You could even get a reusable glass fruit infuser water bottle to keep it with you on the go. 
  • Make an Aqua Fresca which is a refreshing and delicious combo of a small amount of fresh fruit juice and water. 

 

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