STOP drinking empty calories (warning: including shakes).

As much as I hate to admit it, after over 25 years in the fitness industry, without a doubt, the most common question I hear has nothing to do with my expertise in exercise science.  Instead they ask…

How do I lose weight?

Hm.  Well.  I am a personal trainer and a group fitness instructor with a doctoral degree in integrative physiology.  I am not a dietician or a nutritionist.  Therefore, I am not technically qualified to answer this question.  Why?  Because exercise is not the answer.

Losing weight is generally 70-80% what you ingest and only 20-30% how you move.

Despite my lack of formal training in food science, I am an avid reader of academic articles on the topic and well versed on the current best practices.  So, I try to provide reliable advice.

My first tip for individuals who want to lose weight is, STOP drinking empty calories.

1. high sugar soft drinks of no nutritional value – This seems like an easy delete to me.  How about a seltzer water with a lemon, lime or orange?

2. high sugar coffee and alcoholic drinks of minimal nutritional value – There are so many delicious alternatives. How about a black tea with skim milk or a glass of red wine?

3. high sugar shakes of modest nutritional value – yes, I said it, shakes… I understand you can make a shake with healthy ingredients but my advice is still, skip the shakes.  How about eating the ingredients you are placing in the blender?

side note:  My main criticism of shakes is explained below.  Here are two other reasons why I am not a fan of shakes.  (1)  If fruit juice is the base, you will profit from the vitamins and minerals but you will miss the fiber.  You will absorb the higher sugar content more rapidly.  (2)  If protein powder is added, please be aware that these products are not regulated in the same way and may contain artificial sweeteners, oils, stimulants, and heavy metals.  Therefore, eating fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, dairy, nuts, and legumes is the ideal way to ingest energy dense calories.     

Past research demonstrates that the methods of detecting solid and liquid food in the body are different.  Hunger and thirst are controlled through dissimilar methods.  In short, even if liquids contain calories (carbohydrates, fats or protein) they will not satisfy your hunger to the same degree of a solid.  When individuals consume a meal, the sensation of feeling full occurs quicker and lasts longer in comparison to drinking fluids.

While you are eating, signals are sent to the brain due to the act of chewing and the stretching of the stomach wall.  One of the primary effects of these actions is the decrease of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.  When the concentration of ghrelin is low in the blood, you feel satiated.

The majority of people can reduce their liquid calories without much stress due to the multiple options for substitution.  And if you are mindful of your intake, enjoy a soda, a cosmo, or a shake occasionally.  But on a regular basis eat quality calories.

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you very much Jinger. Consumer Reports had an article on Protein Shakes having heavy metal contamination and it is scary.

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