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This Little Change in Your Diet Can Make a Big Difference

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Little dieting steps can make a big calorie difference

Taking baby steps is oft-repeated bit of advice from weight loss experts to help dieters who find dieting just too hard to do. But do baby steps really make a difference? New research shows that making just this one little change in your diet can actually make a big difference.


According to a news release from Virginia Tech, researchers have found that having even just one sugary soda a day is enough to create a growing waistline. In fact, earlier research has shown that that one soda a day also increases a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 22%.

Therefore, it is imperative that if a person wants to lose weight and avoid developing diabetes or prediabetes, he or she needs to replace just one calorie-laden drink with water, advises a Virginia Tech researcher.

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“Regardless of how many servings of sugar-sweetened beverages you consume, replacing even just one serving can be of benefit,” said Kiyah J. Duffey, an adjunct faculty member of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and independent nutrition consultant.

Duffey supports this statement with a recently published article in the journal Nutrients, from data collected in a 2007-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys in which nearly 20,000 adults replaced one 8-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage with an 8-ounce serving of water on a daily basis.

According to the news release, what the study revealed was that a one-for-one drink swap could reduce daily calories and the prevalence of obesity in populations that consume sugary beverages.

“We found that among U.S. adults who consume one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per day, replacing that drink with water lowered the percent of calories coming from drinks from 17 to 11 percent,” says Duffey. (The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that no more than 10 percent of daily calories come from added sugar) “Even those who consumed more sugary drinks per day could still benefit from water replacement, dropping the amount of calories coming from beverages to less than 25 percent of their daily caloric intake,” added Duffey.

In addition to an improved reduced calorie count, the reduction in the amount of daily calories from sugary drinks also improved the individual scores on the Healthy Beverage Index, which translates over into better cholesterol levels, lowered risk of hypertension, and in men, lowered blood pressure. However, it should be noted that people who drink lower-calorie drinks, such as water and unsweetened coffee and tea, also tend to be have diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and poultry.

Here’s How a Little Change Makes a Big Difference

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should “Rethink your Drink” with this example of how making a change in your beverage choices can make a big difference by the end of the day:

Morning: Instead of having a medium café latte with whole milk (265 calories), try a small café latte with fat free milk (125 calories).

Lunchtime: Skip that 227 calorie soft drink with your lunch and reach for a zero-calorie bottle of water.

Afternoon Break: Rather than going to the vending machine for a sweetened lemon ice tea drink (180 calories), try to curb that craving with a slice of lemon in sparkling water (0 calories).

Dinner: Skip the glass of 124 calorie ginger ale and go for water with a slice of lime or lemon; or, allow yourself a glass of seltzer with a splash of 100% fruit juice for an indulgent 30 calories.

By the end of day you will have just decreased your sugar calories from beverage from a potential 796 calories to a relatively paltry—but much healthier—125-155 calories.

For more on the importance of taking baby steps, here is One Simple Change for Losing Weight Recommended by Researchers.


Virginia Tech news release “Replacing just one sugary drink with water could significantly improve health, Virginia Tech researcher finds

Modeling the Effect of Replacing Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption with Water on Energy Intake, HBI Score, and Obesity PrevalenceNutrients, 2016; 8 (7): 395; Kiyah Duffey, Jennifer Poti.

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