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Colas with burgers, the perfect recipe for bad health
July 30, 2017, 4:20 pm

A sugar-sweetened cola drink to go with a high-protein double-burger sandwich will negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, says a new study on diet at the Human Nutrition Research Center in the US.

Researchers at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center said they 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 could 'prime' the body to store more fat over time,” they warned.

Researchers found that downing a protein-rich meal with a sugar-sweetened drink, which is the typical meal at many fast-food restaurants, caused  8 percent reduction in fat oxidation, the process that kick-starts the breakdown of fat molecules. Elaborating on this, the researchers said that, if a sugar-sweetened drink was consumed with a 15 percent protein meal, fat oxidation decreased by 7.2g on average. If a sugar-sweetened drink was consumed with a 30 percent protein meal, fat oxidation decreased by 12.6g on average.

The researchers were surprised by the impact that the sugar-sweetened drinks had on metabolism when they were paired with higher-protein meals. In addition, they found that the combination also increased study participants’ desire to eat savory and salty foods for four hours after eating.

While having a sugar-sweetened drink increased the amount of energy used to metabolize the meal, the increased expenditure did not even out the consumption of additional calories from the drink, they said.

The researchers used a room calorimeter — a furnished chamber that measures movement, oxygen, carbon dioxide, temperature and pressure— to assess how dietary changes affected energy expenditure and the way nutrients were processed by the participants’ bodies. By having the participants remain in a room calorimeter during the duration of the study, researchers were able to determine how many grams of carbohydrate, protein and fat the participants were using and how many calories they are burning every minute.

Their 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.

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