If you thought you were winning at life by picking sparkling water over a fizzy soda, new scientific evidence is here to burst your bubble. Sparkling water may not be the diet-friendly soda alternative we always thought it was. Sure, it's zero calories, but new research shows that it may cause you to gain weight.
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According to a study by scientists at Birzeit University in the Palestinian West Bank, consuming zero-calorie carbonated beverages can lead to increased food consumption, resulting in excessive weight gain and obesity, especially when compared with flat drinks.
To reach these unsettling findings, scientists tracked the consumption of carbonated and flat drinks in two groups of rats over the course of a year. According to The Telegraph, the rats that consumed zero-calorie carbonated beverages like sparkling water began eating 20 percent more than the rats that drank only flat beverages, causing them to gain weight.
Looking at the research, the reason you may want to think twice before opening that midafternoon LaCroix is because of what the carbon dioxide triggers in your brain. According to Birzeit’s website, rats that drank a variety of carbonated beverages over a period of one year gained weight more quickly than rats given non-carbonated beverages or tap water. This weight gain was due to increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin in the rodents' brains, which in turn caused them to eat more food.
Sure, a zero-calorie sparkling water is healthier than ingesting the sugar and additives found in a soda. Still, the carbonation you get from feelin’ fancy with your SodaStream is what’s to blame here, seeing that those bubbles are what’s triggering that pesky ghrelin release.
Following the trials on rats, human trials concluded that the same ghrelin release occurred when participants drank carbonated beverages. According to The Telegraph, tests done on 20 human volunteers found those who drank sparkling water had ghrelin levels six times higher than those who drank only flat.
While carbonated-drinks have already been linked to erosion of your teeth (yikes!), this new finding has us seriously sad about our love of zero-calorie sparkling fruit waters. But if you’re like us and don’t want to give up the occasional bubbly beverage, take solace in what Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford, told MUNCHIES:
“It would be premature to offer advice to people trying to lose weight based on a single small study which looked at rates of weight gain in laboratory animals who are still growing. Advice for weight control needs to be based on rigorous, well-controlled trials and a full synthesis of the evidence.”
So while there’s still some research to be done, don’t feel like you have to go all-or-nothing on the bubbly drinks. Just be aware that drinking San Pellegrino might lead to some extra hunger pangs throughout the day.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you drink sparkling beverages? Does this new study inspire you to cut down on sparkling water and carbonated beverages in general? Let us know in the comments.