Seltzer water is a hugely popular beverage, particularly for people who want the benefits of hydration and the flavor of soft drinks but don’t want to drink sugary poison.
Drinks like La Croix and Ugly let consumers indulge in the luxury of carbonation without risking the diabetes and obesity that inevitably await soda drinkers.
It turns out, however, that despite its low calorie count seltzer might have a dark secret that increases your risk of obesity.
A 2017 study revealed that carbonated beverages make your body release more of a hormone called Ghrelin that increases your appetite.
Your stomach produces Ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger and the release of growth hormone in your pituitary gland.
When scientists externally administered Ghrelin to test subjects it increased their hunger levels 30% (although I’m not sure how they measure initial hunger levels).
In the 2017 study, researchers gave test subjects water, carbonated Coca-cola, non-carbonated Coca-cola, and carbonated Diet Coca-cola and measured their weight gain over time.
At the end of the test, the subjects who drank water or non-carbonated Coke weighed significantly less than those who drank the carbonated drinks.
This indicates that the carbonation in soda plays a role in stimulating hunger, potentially causing you to overeat.
It stands to reason, then, that the carbonation in seltzer water would have a similar hunger-inducing effect.
Now there are confounding factors to consider.
Fructose, the sugar used in most soft drinks, also stimulates the hunger hormone Ghrelin.
Subjects in the non-carbonated Coke group did gain more weight than those in the water group, but those in the fully carbonated groups gained a lot more weight.
While fructose did play a small role in weight gain, it seems that carbonation may have been the main culprit.
This is yet another reason to avoid soda.
The sugar in these drinks does enough to impact your health, and it’s also likely to exacerbate other unhealthy diet habits.
Most regular soda drinkers also regularly eat Doritos, Oreos, and fast fast food.
Think about McDonalds. Large sodas are a key part of their business model, and it turns out that drinking soda along with your combo meal encourages you to overeat by stimulating your hunger.
While seltzer water is undeniably healthier than soda, the carbonation may stimulate your desire to overindulge in snacking if you’re not careful.
What does this mean for me?
Here are two recommendations for what to do with this information:
- Cultivate mindfulness
- Buy healthy snacks
Mindfulness is an exceptional line of defense against overindulgence.
Through breathing exercises, meditation, and other mindfulness practices you can overcome your craving and live a healthy lifestyle.
The widespread lack of awareness is a major factor in people’s overindulgence in unhealthy lifestyles.
When you crack open a seltzer water make sure you take a few deep breaths and take stock of your mental and physical state.
However, if you do give in to a carbonation-induced snack attack, you can mitigate the risks by keeping your house stocked with healthy snacks.
Dried mango, mixed nuts, and Dirtballs Energy Bites are three great options.
You might also have your favorites. I particularly like broccoli dipped in hummus.
It’s still possible to overindulge in these healthier snacking options, but unlike processed carb-heavy snacks, it’s much easier to tell when you’ve had enough to satisfy your hunger.
So while the seltzer itself might be healthy, it’s important to understand how it might fuel other habits and to prepare yourself accordingly.
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