Is Water The Best Beverage for Dieters? Maybe Not

According to a recent study in Obesity (2014; 22: 1415-21), during the first 12 weeks of a weight loss program water is not as helpful as non-nutritive sweetened drinks (eg. diet soda) when trying to lose weight (Thanks to Jeff Schwimmer for this reference).

The study describes the findings from the 12-week weight loss phase of a 1-year randomized, clinical trial to test the hypothesis that the amount of weight lost (12 weeks) and maintained (9 months) in a behavioral weight management program will be equivalent in participants consuming beverages containing non-nutritive sweetened beverages (NNS) compared to water.

  • Demographics: n=303, mean age ~48 years, 82% female, mean BMI 33
  • Design: “Participants randomized to the NNS beverage group were asked to consume at least 24 fluid ounces of NNS beverage per day and their water consumption was not restricted. An NNS beverage qualified if it had <5 kcal per 8 ounce-serving, was pre-mixed, and contained non-nutritive sweeteners.” Similarly, in the water group, individuals were instructed to consume at least 24 fluid ounces of water per day, and not drink any NNS beverages.
  • Results: “The two treatments were not equivalent with the NNS beverage treatment group losing significantly more weight compared to the water group (5.95 kg versus 4.09 kg; P < 0.0001) after 12 weeks. Participants in the NNS beverage group reported significantly greater reductions in subjective feelings of hunger than those in the water group during 12 weeks.”
  • Conclusion: “These results show that water is not superior to NNS beverages for weight loss during a comprehensive behavioral weight loss program.”

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