Looking to lose weight? Eliminating your daily soda habit may seem like a no-brainer. But for those having a hard time giving it up completely, it may be encouraging to hear research has found that even a small cutback, like replacing one sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) with water each day, could reduce calorie intake and potentially lead to better weight management. The study was published in Nutrients and used data from 19,718 US adults who participated in the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), which ran from 2007 to 2012. The study calculated the effects of replacing one 8-ounce SSB with the same amount of water every day on calorie consumption and the Healthy Beverage Index (HBI) score. The HBI is a scoring system that reflects how well individual beverage consumption patterns compare to healthy beverage intake recommendations, based on guidelines from the Beverage Guidance Panel and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The researchers also used data from previous studies to predict the effect of replacing one serving of SSB with one serving of water on the rate of obesity. They concluded:
Overall, the exchange of one serving of SSB for one serving of water would result in an improvement in individuals’ HBI scores of between 9% and 21%.
In people who drank one 8-ounce SSB per day, replacing that SSB with the same amount of water could reduce their daily calorie intake from beverages by 33%.
In people who drank more than two 8-ounce SSBs per day, replacing just one SSB with the same amount of water could reduce their daily calorie intake from beverages by more than 14%.
In adult populations who swapped one 8-ounce SSB for the same amount of water each day, the prevalence of obesity would be reduced by about 35%, and the prevalence of normal weight would increase by about 30%.
These findings drive home the fact that small lifestyle changes can really make a difference when it comes to your health. And while more clinical research is needed to confirm these findings, previous research supports these conclusions; for example, one study found that drinking more water led to more weight loss. This may be because water can serve as a replacement for calorie-laden drinks, as suggested in this study, or possibly because it helps you feel full, reducing the amount of calories you eat.