If you feel like you’re watching your diet like a hawk, that you’re eating the right things and in small quantities, yet you still can’t lose weight, there’s a good chance that you’re drinking your fair share of calories. People simply don’t notice liquid calories as much as they do solid ones.
If this is the case for you, then soda is probably the biggest culprit. The average American drinks more than one can of soda each day, over 40 gallons each year. This is partially why it’s so hard for Americans to maintain the calorie deficit that weight loss requires. Too much soda.
I recently stumbled upon a video ad which was released by the New York City Health Department which basically made the claim that drinking a can of soda each day will make you gain 10 pounds a year. Now, the ad is pretty gruesome and it’s apparent that it’s intentionally so. So, I wouldn’t recommend watching it while you’re eating or drinking anything (especially soda).
The question is whether this is a true statement. Will drinking a single can of soda each day really make you gain 10 pounds a year?
At first, it seems like a logical claim. If a can of soda contains 150 calories than drinking one in each of the 365 days of the year will increase your calorie total by the massive amount of 54,750 calories. As you may know, a calorie surplus of 3,500 calories will result in the gain of 1 pound. So, it seems like you could gain even more than 10 pounds by drinking soda daily.
However, it is not as simple as that. There are other factors that we need to consider and other questions to ask. Just as cutting 150 calories off your daily diet won’t necessarily cause you to lose 10 pounds in a year, so adding 150 soda-calories won’t, necessarily, make you gain weight either. Let’s see what the problems with the NYC ad are:
The Assumption of The Perfect Calorie Balance
Let’s say that you burn 2,000 calories each day and you also consume 2,000. You’re at a perfect calorie balance and you’re not gaining weight nor losing it. Then, you start drinking a can of soda each day and now you have a 150 calorie surplus. If that happens you may indeed begin to gain weight.
However, to assume that most people are at such a balance is pretty farfetched. In fact, let’s assume that this person substitutes a 150 can of juice for the 150 can of soda. In that case, this person will remain at a calorie balance and won’t gain weight. Let’s say that this person gives up a 300 calorie coffee for a soda. Now, all of a sudden, this person is at a calorie deficit and will actually lose weight.
In fact, the basic assumption is wrong. You can be at a 200 calorie daily deficit and adding a can of soda to your diet will not stop you from losing weight. It may make it a bit slower, that’s all. The fact is that you can eat what you want and lose weight as long as you have a calorie deficit.
The Assumption of the Constant Basal Metabolic Rate
The gravest inaccuracy that this ad makes is the assumption of constant BMR, Basal Metabolic Rate.
Each person has their own BMR, meaning the amount of calories that they burn to function. The difference in BMR from one person to the next depends on many things such as gender, age, and so on. One important factor is a person’s weight. The heavier you get, the more energy your body has to use in order to function. Your BMR increases as you gain weight. This is why fat people find it easy to lose weight in the beginning: their BMR is so high.
If a person drinks a can of soda each day and this causes him or her to gain weight, their BMR will also increase. This means that they will need to consume even more calories in order to continue gaining weight. This one can of soda won’t suffice.
This means that you may gain weight by drinking soda each day, but it doesn’t have to amount to 10 pounds. In addition, the ad says that drinking soda can make you 10 pounds fatter a year. This isn’t correct as, after one year, your BMR will be higher and you may not gain an ounce of additional weight even if you continue drinking soda.
Lack Of Additional Exercise
Another assumption is that the person who is gaining weight will not act to do anything about it. Even if he or she do not give up their soda, they can still decide to workout more and increase their calorie expenditure this way. This may help them stop the weight gain or even reverse it.
A Few More Words
I have no doubt that the NYC Health Department wanted to send a clear message and to make this a powerful ad in order to create an impact. It seems that it worked as nearly 1 million views are registered for this video on YouTube.
However, sodas are just one culprit in the war on obesity. There are many other foods and beverages which are overly rich in sugar, calories, sodium, and other nasty elements.
I don’t like soda and I don’t drink it myself… ever. I like water much better and have for many years. To me sodas are useless calories that do me no good. However, to say that drinking a can of soda each day will make you 10 pounds fatter in a year is nothing more than an assumption. Calories are what matter, for the most part, when it comes to weight loss or gain, not their origin.