Sugary Drinks Alter Metabolism to Boost Fat Gain Similar to Diabetes

In a recent study publishing by Bangor University in UK, researchers showed that healthy thin young people who consumed soft drinks sporadically experienced marked changes in metabolism after increasing their soft drink consumption by about a drink per day.

After four weeks of drinking sugary beverages containing about 140 grams sugar per day (what you would get from about two to five servings of a typical soft drink or fruit juice), participants had gained about one kilogram (2.2 pounds) and showed higher fasting glucose levels. Muscle biopsies showed that genetic markers were altered by the sugary drinks indicating reduced fat metabolism in the muscles. Signs of developing insulin resistance were also seen after four weeks of increased sugar consumption.

Researchers believe that the consumption of sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit juices, hurts health at least two ways beyond simply adding calories. First, it desensitizes the body to sweet tastes and thereby encourages eating and drinking even more sugar. Secondly, it alters metabolism to cause muscles to burn more sugar in place of fat. This speeds up fat gain in the body, contributing to the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The study suggests that drinking a sugary drink once in a while is not a big threat to health. But when people make sugar consumption a habit, then the body adapts by modifying its operations to use up the sugar and pile on the fat.

Although much of the publicity around this study focuses on soft drinks as the enemy, it appears that any kind of high sugar drink can have similar effects. Fruit juices misleadingly marketed at “healthy” are therefore similarly dangerous as soft drinks.

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Switching to drinks containing artificial sweeteners may help lower calorie count, but some artificial sweeteners have adverse health effects of their own. For instance, aspartame has been found to elevate blood glucose and insulin levels similar to sugar. Many artificial sweeteners also decompose into toxic compounds when they are stored at high temperatures that you might see in many uncooled locations during the summer.

People who drink fruit juices can help cut their sugar habit by watering down the drinks to lower the sugar content. Better still is switching primarily to drinking plain water.

If you’re looking for a sweet taste, consider using zero calorie natural sweeteners such as stevia as an option preferable to sugar or artificial sweeteners. Stevia may lower blood glucose levels whereas sugar and artificial sweeteners raise them. It also does not break down easily into toxic compounds as many artificial sweeteners do.

Further Reading

Fructose Sugar A Chronic Poison, High Intake Causes Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Fatty Liver Disease

Stevia Is Healthier Alternative To Artificial Sweeteners That Trigger High Blood Glucose

Adaptive metabolic response to 4 weeks of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in healthy, lightly active individuals and chronic high glucose availability in primary human myotubes.

Taste perception and implicit attitude toward sweet related to body mass index and soft drink supplementation.

Drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks leads to fat gain

Sugary drinks can change muscles in a month

Sugar Content of Common Beverages

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Sugary Drinks Alter Metabolism to Boost Fat Gain Similar to Diabetes — 3 Comments

  1. Does this apply to other high sugar foods? I love ice cream — does that cause these problems like soda and juice?

    • Ice Cream Fanatic,

      You pose a good question. Possibly nobody can be sure of the answer to it yet, however. Most ice cream also has a lot of fat in it and also some protein. Fat and protein can slow down the spike in blood glucose and the insulin response to sugar. For example, a serving of Costco premium vanilla ice cream has 280 calories containing 19g fat, 5g protein, and 21g sugar (probably sucrose). Compare that to the typical soft drink or fruit juice that has zero fat and zero protein but possibly even higher amounts of sugar. I’d hazard a guess that you are probably better off eating ice cream than drinking soft drinks and fruit juices, but don’t know of any studies that show this.

      It’s probably possible to make a decent tasting ice cream using stevia as a sweetener instead of sugar and that would improve the picture considerably. A Swedish company has started to sell a stevia-sweetened ice cream product line. Unfortunately it is only available in Sweden right now. The book I linked to here contains recipes for three flavors of stevia ice cream including maple nut, strawberry, and lemon. I haven’t tried these recipes myself, but the book got good reviews from readers so they might be tasty versions of ice cream.

      If you are up to making your own ice cream and don’t want to spring for a book with recipes, you can try using stevia as a sweetener in place of much of the sugar using a couple of recipes I found:

      Scoopable, Healthier Ice Cream with a Little Stevia

      Stevia Vanilla Ice Cream

      Hope that helps.


  2. Pingback: Fructose Sugar A Chronic Poison, High Intake Causes Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Fatty Liver Disease | EmediaHealth

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