Lately, we’ve had a ton of questions regarding the popular “Sparkling Ice” water beverage. Is it healthy? Can I drink it? Why not if it doesn’t have any calories? Today, we’ll break down why we don’t recommend this beverage, and why “zero calories” doesn’t mean zero consequences.
Let’s take a look at that nutrition label on the “Lemon Lime” flavor. First ingredient? Carbonated water, perfect! But hold tight. The seventh ingredient is sucralose, also known as Splenda. Sucralose is called a nonnutritive sweetener (NNS). Most sucralose (roughly 85%) can’t be broken down by the body, hence why it contains zero calories. Roughly 600 times sweeter than table sugar, little amounts of sucralose can go a long way. NNS have long been touted as healthy alternatives to traditional table sugar, especially for those looking to cut back on their intake. The research on NNS is mixed, and a large majority of this comes from animal studies. Overall however, daily exposure to high-intensity sweeteners (NNS) has been associated with increased weight gain and incidence of obesity, as well as general and abdominal adiposity in both animal studies and large-scale, long-term prospective studies in humans. As is frequently the case, further research is required to fully understand the connection been NNS and their potential impact on weight balance.
But let’s revisit why we wouldn’t recommend use of NNS, especially while embarking on a VLCD. As previously mentioned, sucralose is nearly 600 times sweeter than table sugar, and the effects of NNS on our taste receptors and gut microbiota is not yet known. It has been hypothesized that by ingesting these hyper-sweet sugar substitutes we are actually priming our taste receptors to crave even more sweet things, leading to weight gain. By shifting away from NNS-sweetened beverages, we allow our taste receptors to get reacquainted with the natural sweetness of fresh foods.
Need to spice up your plain water? We love sparkling here in the office! Popular brands like La Croix, Pellegrino, Perrier, and Schweppes now offer delicious, sugar-free/NNS-free fizzy beverages. We recommend the majority of your water intake come from plain water, but you can spice this up too! Try making your own “spa water” by infusing your water with sliced cucumbers, lemons, limes, berries, or fresh herbs. Sit back, relax, and get hydrated!