Pairing sugary drinks with high-protein meals could cause body to store more fat

It’s no secret that sugary drinks can have negative effects on our health. However, pairing them with a lot of protein could be even more detrimental, because a new report says the combination could cause your body to store more fat.

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Researchers from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Center conducted a study to determine how certain foods affect the body’s energy balance and fat storage.  

To do so, they monitored 27 healthy-weight individuals over two 24-hour periods after feeding them protein-based meals with sugary drinks in one experiment and protein-based meals with non-sugary drinks in another. 

After analyzing the data, they found that combining high-protein foods with sugar-sweetened drinks increases the body’s fat storage. 

"We 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 may 'prime' the body to store more fat,” Dr. Shanon Casperson, the lead author, said in a release.

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Adding a sugary drink to the course slowed down fat oxidation, the process that helps fat molecules break down, by eight percent. And it also changed participants’ cravings, because it “increased study subjects’ desire to eat savory and salty foods for four hours after eating.” 

The study only examined healthy-weight people for a short period of time, so researchers noted that overweight individuals may respond differently. 

However, Casperson said, “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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