A study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition says that having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, food preferences and cause the body to store more fat.
Dr Shanon Casperson, lead author of the study from USDA-Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, USA said: “We found that about a third of the additional calories provided by the sugar-sweetened drinks were not expended, fat metabolism was reduced, and it took less energy to metabolize the meals. This decreased metabolic efficiency may ‘prime’ the body to store more fat.”
The researchers found that drinking a sugar-sweetened drink with protein-based meals decreased the breakdown of fat molecules in the meal.
Dr. Casperson said: “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.”
Dr. Casperson said: “Our findings suggest that having a sugar-sweetened drink with a meal impacts both sides of the energy balance equation. On the intake side, the additional energy from the drink did not make people feel more sated. On the expenditure side, the additional calories were not expended and fat oxidation was reduced. The results provide further insight into the potential role of sugar-sweetened drinks – the largest single source of sugar in the American diet – in weight gain and obesity.”
Dietary changes were measured only for a short time and caution must be used when extrapolating the study data to dietary changes over longer periods of time. As this study was in healthy-weight adults only, the authors also caution that overweight individuals may respond differently to dietary changes.