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Hey Mr Soda Belly: The Hidden Perils of Your Liquid Diet

My buddy proudly snapped off his shirt to display his progress at the gym as his wife blushed. I had given him some exercises to try over the last few months and he looked great!

He was leaning out and adding muscle in all the right areas, but then he said, “you have to show me some exercises to get rid of this now,” as he grabbed the loose skin fold around his stomach.

He looked at me as if I was supposed to wave a magic wand of a secret ab routine to cut off the remainder of his belly fat. I knew he was working out pretty hard, so I examined his diet.

He mostly ate a healthy balance of fish and chicken with a lot of vegetables and high quality starches like yams. He never ate any processed foods. His diet was actually great. At least the portion he ate.

That evening, I watched him drink a couple diet sodas followed up by a sugar-free Big Gulp, with which he mockingly made a cheers to Bloomberg, when I had my Eureka moment. I said one thing much to his chagrin, “quit drinking so much damn soda!”

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We have all heard of “beer-bellies,” but we should really call them “soda-bellies.” Are you a soda drinker or do you love energy drinks like Red Bull? What about the “healthy” zero calorie sweeteners you put in your coffee or iced tea?

If you make pseudo “healthy choices” like this in your liquid diet each day, you will never be able to achieve your desired fitness results. Getting a chiseled six-pack should be the least of your worries because bigger problems await.

“Knock Knock. Who’s there? Type II diabetes.”

one can of soda/per day adds 15.6lbs/per yr! = 150 calories x 365 days per yr/3,500 calories per lb

Red Bull is 92% sugar!

Yeah, but that is for regular sodas, not diet. You drink diet? Even worse.

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The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that:

-diet sodas raise your risk of Type II diabetes even more than regular sodas.
-woman who drank diet sodas drink twice as much as those who drink sugar-sweetened sodas due to the addictive nature of artificial sweeteners.
-diet soda drinkers drink an average of 3 sodas per day.

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Diet sodas actually play a bait and switch on your body’s chemistry.

Artificial sweeteners are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar.  They activate your genetically programmed preference for sweet taste more than any other substance.

Arizona Kiwi Strawberry 345 calories 81g sugar
Arizona Kiwi Strawberry 345 calories, 81g sugar — but look it is fortified with Vitamin C?!?!

Basically, artificial sweeteners trick your metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way. This causes your body to pump out insulin, the fat storage hormone, which causes an increase in fat stores (i.e. belly fat).

Artificial sweeteners confuse your metabolism and slow it down, so you burn less calories every day. They actually make you hungrier. Cravings for sugary foods and starchy carbs like bread and pasta increase dramatically when consuming diet beverages.

In animal studies, lab rats that consumed artificial sweeteners ate more, their metabolism slowed, and they put on 14 percent more body fat in just two weeks – EVEN when eating less calories.

SoBe Green Tea 240 calories, 61g sugar
SoBe Green Tea 240 calories, 61g sugar — how can you mess up green tea? I mean, it’s GREEN TEA!?

So what can you do? Sugar, artificial sweeteners, energy drinks, juices, sodas etc. are very addicting and habit forming. They will not be easy for your body to give up right away. You need to ween yourself off of them over time, otherwise you will set yourself up for failure if you go cold-turkey.

Start by cutting back one of these drinks per week. Continue this until you are down to drinking just one of these drinks per week if you cannot give them up all together. Consider each one a special treat or well-deserved cheat meal…just watch how much more you savior and appreciate the taste too.

Replace each soda with a refreshing glass of water. Water is something your body needs and is a great appetite suppressant. You will be substituting one cool beverage for another, all the while forming a healthy habit. Want something warm instead, try green tea with its wide array of health benefits (real green tea, not the sugar grenade pictured above).

Working out is a double-edged sword that is equal parts proper training as well as nutrition. However, nutrition is equal parts food as well as beverages.

You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet. Eat your calories, don’t drink them.