One too many times were all of us sitting at the bar unable to choose between tonic water and cola, feeling the sugar guilt afterward. Unless you choose to have a sugar-free (or rather say guilt-free) versions, in that one can we are ingesting more than 20 grams of sugar! In your defense, researchers showed that, paradoxically, drinking diet soda is associated with weight gain.

One big study even found that mothers that frequently consumed diet beverages were two times more likely to have babies who were overweight or obese one year after birth compared to women who consumed fewer artificially sweetened drinks. One theory is that artificial sweeteners trigger sweetness receptors in your brain, which cause the body to prepare itself for the surge of calories. Even though those calories don’t arrive, the body still craves them, and that may cause people to ultimately eat more calories overall, putting them at a risk for weight gain.

Another reason why you don’t want to mess up with your brain when consuming carbonated drinks is that carbon dioxide in these drinks triggers a hunger hormone called ghrelin, produced in the gut, but travels through your bloodstream and to your brain telling it to become hungry and crave food. In other words, ghrelin’s main function is to increase appetite. Ghrelin levels increase significantly on a weight loss diet. It‘s been demonstrated that the longer the diet, the more your ghrelin levels will increase making you hungrier, so it becomes much harder to maintain your new weight.

Interestingly, the recent study reported that quinine, added to tonic water that gives the water its characteristic bitter taste, may decrease appetite and food intake, by lowering circulating ghrelin levels. But don’t get too enthusiastic when ordering a gin and tonic next time you’re at the bar, because tonic water contains very low levels of quinine (but is high in sugar content), whereas a dose of a bitter tastant found to have the ghrelin lowering effect was quite greater and was administered by an intragastric tube.

While awaiting more consumer-friendly scientific results, you might want to try keeping your ghrelin at bay by eating plenty of protein and avoiding foods and beverages high in sugar. Also having ONE tonic water, rather than cola, cannot harm…

Anny Bee

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