NUTRITION
August 8, 2017

A Disastrous Combo Meal

Drinking a sugary beverage with a high protein meal reduces your body's ability to break down fat. And the pounds pile on.

The next time you sit down to a high-protein meal, you may want to skip the soda or other sugary beverage. And it's not just because their high calorie content is a culprit in overweight, heart and liver disease. When you have sugary beverages along with protein, it interferes with your body's ability to metabolize fat.

The finding, by a study published in BMC Nutrition, could explain why our sugary beverage habits have such a big effect on weight.

The extra calories from sugar-sweetened beverages did not leave people feeling fuller or more satisfied with their meals, and those calories were not all utilized.

Sugary drinks affect the body’s calorie-burning process. Drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage with a meal slows down fat oxidation, the first step in breaking down fat in the body.

People in the study fasted overnight, then ate a breakfast and lunch meal in which 15 percent of the calories were from protein. On a different occasion, they ate two meals that contained 30 percent of calories from protein. Each meal consisted of the same foods, provided 17 grams of fat and 500 calories. The only difference was that a sugar-sweetened beverage was served with one meal and a sugar-free drink with the other meal.

The researchers then analyzed how these changes affected the way the participants' bodies burned calories and how nutrients were processed by the body. The amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat used by the participants and the number of calories they burned were also determined.

Drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage with a meal caused an 8 percent decrease in fat oxidation. When the sugary beverage was part of the 15 percent protein meal, fat oxidation was reduced by an average of 7.2 grams. With the 30 percent protein meal, fat oxidation slowed even further — by 12.6 grams.

About a third of the extra calories consumed with the sugary drinks were not used, fat metabolism declined and the body used less energy to metabolize the meals, possibly triggering the body to store more fat, explained Shanon Casperson, lead author of the study, from USDA-Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center. The extra calories from sugar-sweetened beverages did not leave people feeling fuller or more satisfied with their meals, and those calories were not all utilized. Both sides of the energy equation were affected for the worse.

“We were surprised by the impact that the sugar-sweetened drinks had on metabolism when they were paired with higher-protein meals. This combination also increased study subjects' desire to eat savory and salty foods for four hours after eating,” said Dr. Casperson, in a statement.

Sugary beverages are the number one source of sugar in the American diet and a major factor in weight gain and obesity, especially when consumed with a high-protein meal. Make an effort to ditch the sugar-sweetened beverages. Try instead a healthier option that has proven health benefits: water.

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