Combining a sugary soda with your burger or fried chicken can really prime your body to pack on more pounds, a new study suggests.
Folks who had a sweetened drink with a high-protein meal stored more unused fat, compared to others who ate the same food with a sugar-free beverage, laboratory tests revealed. Their bodies did not burn about a third of the additional calories provided by the sugary drink, researchers found.
The participants also burned less fat from their food, and it took less energy overall to digest the meal.
“If we are adding extra carbohydrates on top of what’s already in a meal, that will definitely have an effect on the body being able to use fat as an energy source, and it will more than likely go into energy storage,” said lead researcher Shanon Casperson. She’s a research biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sodas, sweetened coffee and iced tea drinks, fruit drinks, energy beverages and the like are leading sources of added sugar in the American diet, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Six in 10 kids and half of adults drink at least one sugary beverage each day.
Food contains three major types of nutrients — carbohydrates, fats and protein. Casperson and her team wanted to see how extra carbs in the form of a sugary drink would affect metabolism of fats and proteins.
For the study, 27 healthy-weight adults were placed in a sealed “metabolic room” that carefully tracked how much oxygen was inhaled and carbon dioxide was exhaled, Casperson said. Urine samples were also collected.
“With those three variables, we are able to calculate the amount of nutrients they use” as well as the calories they burn every minute, Casperson said.
Participants spent two full days in the sealed room. On one day they ate two meals containing 15 percent protein, and on the other they ate two meals with 30 percent protein. The meals consisted of bread, ham, cheese, potatoes and butter, and each provided 17 grams of fat and 500 calories.