Could my seltzer habit make me gain?
Q: I struggle to drink enough water, so I started keeping flavored seltzer in my office, and I’ve been downing a few cans a day. I was feeling pretty good about that since it’s sugar-free, but then a coworker said the carbonation could lead to weight gain. Is that true?
A: Your colleague’s warning isn’t unwarranted. In a study in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, subjects who drank plain carbonated water gained 19% more weight over 14 weeks than those who drank still water. The reason: The bubbles trigger the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin. In fact, subjects given sparkling water at a meal had ghrelin levels that were six times higher than those given still water—and that hormone spike caused them to eat more at the meal and battle increased cravings later.
That said, it’s better to drink seltzer than sugary drinks, so if you don’t want to switch to still water, we suggest a simple step to keep ghrelin in check: Eat at least 20 grams of protein at each meal—think 3.5 oz. of chicken or
1⁄2 cup of black beans. The protein will lower ghrelin levels and boost satiety to help you eat less throughout the day.