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Anyone else get overwhelmed by something as simple as water?
Head to the grocery store and the options for water and claims on all the labels are endless!
Bottled in glass or plastic, sparkling, electrolyte, flavored, mineral, flavored zero calories and more. But are they all healthy? Are some better than others?
Are the flavored ones basically like diet soda with artificial sweeteners? Is that bad?
Don’t these sweeteners make you crave more sweet flavors later in the day?
Well let’s talk about it!
NATURAL FLAVORS AND ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
Most calorie free drinks have “natural flavors to help with taste. These are not artificial sweeteners, but we do not know what the term means. They may be zero calorie, but does that make it healthy?
Some brands use essential oils and fruit extracts, but still the term “natural flavoring” is vague and doesn’t tell us much about what we are putting in our bodies and how it may affect us!
First, this sort of flavoring is better than regular sugar packed soda! And it may … may be better than diet soda or at least equal to. At the very least switching to a diet soda or flavored water from regular soda will save you tons of unneeded and unhealthy calories!
Now some brands of these calorie-free sparkling or flavored water might also use artificial sweeteners, like diet soda, which are somewhat controversial.
If artificial sweeteners do not bother your stomach or digestion then any of these beverages can make them a great option in terms of flavor for anyone trying to be more health conscious. The FDA and others have conducted research which has found the artificial sweeteners are safe to consume. Though there are some nutrition pros who are skeptical about this.
Like everything moderation is key to artificial sweeteners being safe and okay to have. Being self aware though is important! For some people, consuming something sweet, even if it’s free of sugar, can make them crave even more sweet flavors later in the day. This is a case by case basis that everyone needs to test for themselves as there is scientific evidence that natural flavorings or artificial sweeteners will hinder your weight loss efforts.
Now let’s talk about carbonation and weight gain.
Many dieters enjoy carbonated beverages because they can be very filling when in a calorie deficit! The carbonation takes up space in the stomach and may even increase both gastric activity as well as your heart rate. Both of these factors can contribute to feelings of fullness.
But if it sounds too good to be true it might be!
In one study people who drank carbonated water had ghrelin (the hunger hormone) levels that were six times higher than people who drank regular water. They also had three times higher ghrelin levels than people drinking non-carbonated sodas. That doesn’t speak well for sparkling water. However, the research did not *directly* link sparkling water intake to excess weight gain.
There is no solid evidence to say carbonation causes weight gain. And as mentioned earlier it is a case by case basis because countless things (stress, lack of sleep, hormones, etc) can stimulate hunger throughout the day and many people tend to sleep too little, have excess stress, yo-yo diet, and perhaps drinking flavored sparkling water may be added to the list.
If you try to have a balanced diet, and get some quality sleep with good stress management, having some sparkling water may be a great tool for preventing unplanned snacking.
Be aware of your lifestyle habits before and around the time you choose to drink flavored water and maybe you will see that it only helps you stay on track and cut cravings, or maybe it causes them!