A new study has found that pairing a meal, especially a protein-rich one, with sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) is associated with decreased metabolic efficiency and lower fat oxidatio, or burning.
A higher capacity/propensity for fat accumulation is tied to the development of a lot of metabolic problems, including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
The new research, published in the BMC Nutrition journal, found that the addition of a SSB to meals suppressed thermogenesis (one of the way that we burn calories) by about two per cent and lowered fat oxidation by about 9g.
Most notably, the consumption of a SSB during a meal does so independently of macronutrient composition, i.e., the ratio of carbohydrates, fat and protein in the meal.
Over the course of a day, the body created about a 40-kcal surplus from the sugar-sweetened drink and only burned 80 of the 120 calories contained in it, independent of how much protein was in the meal.
Researchers asked 27 healthy weight adults placed in a metabolic ward, which measures exactly how the body is using nutrients from food, to consume a SSB or a non-caloric-sweetened beverage (NNSB) with a meal.
All meals were composed of the same foods and provided 17g of fat and 500 non-beverage related calories, but they had varying ratios of protein, either standard (15%) or high (30%).
Researchers collected data and assessed thermogenesis and fat burning capacity in participants as well as hunger and the desire to eat certain types of foods after each meal.
Dr. Shanon Casperson, from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Agricultural Research Service, and her team have shown that the protein ratio matters with regards to fat loss in the presence or absence of SSB.
When researchers paired the sugar-sweetened drink with a protein-rich meal, the combination further decreased fat use and diet-induced thermogenesis by more than 40 per cent.
Adding a little bit more protein to meals was not found to drastically reduce cravings for sweet foods either. However, it generally decreased hunger and increased satiety.
Of note, increasing protein resulted in the males spontaneously reducing their carbs to favour more fat-rich meals. Lowering carbs allows for even more fat to be burned as the body’s sugar pathways become blunted.
Overall, this study suggests that repeated SSB consumptio, especially when paired with high-protein meals, over time can potentially lead to a greater tendency to store fat and, thus, increase body weight.

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