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Nutrition Column

Drinking a caloric beverage does little to aid satiety but raises caloric intake

But eating a low-calorie salad to start the meal significantly reduces the meals calories.

It has long been the practice of dieters to drink a glass of water before a meal in the hopes of decreasing meal size and caloric intake. But is this the case? What effect does drinking water, juice, milk, or other beverages have on meal size and caloric intake?

A study out of Penn State University found drinking with a meal did little to provide a feeling of fullness or to later the caloric content of the food eaten. In fact, when food is eaten ad libitum drinking either regular cola, diet cola, orange juice, low-fat milk, or water no difference in satiety was noted but those who consumed a beverage with caloric content (e.g. juice, regular soda, or milk) had significantly higher energy intakes for the meal due to the caloric content of the drink.

In another study, Barbara Rolls and her colleagues found that starting a meal with a salad significantly reduced the overall caloric content of a meal. In fact, the larger the portion sizes of alow-energy salad the subjects ate prior to the main course the few overall calories they consumed in the meal.

So the next time you try to fill up with water before a meal, think again. A better option would be to start with a large salad followed by a smaller portion main course. Also consider a light sprinkling of a homemade olive oil & balsamic vinegar dressing rather than a high-calorie, high-fat store bought brand.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 12.20.05