Q:

How does skinny vanilla lattes and other low-calorie drinks affect weight loss?

A:

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Dr. Mark Hyman for The Huffington Post explains that low- or no-calorie drinks are demonstrated to increase cravings for sugary or starchy foods, leading to weight gain. While skinny vanilla lattes and other diet drinks are lower-calorie, the artificial sweeteners trick the body into releasing more insulin which increases fat storage. Diet sugars also slow and confuse the metabolism.

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Dr. Hyman attributes the rising rate of obesity in America to the fat-free diet craze of the 1990s, pointing out that fat consumption does not have as strong a correlation with weight gain as sugar consumption. A study found that rats became more addicted to artificial sweeteners than to cocaine, in part because the sweetener activated multiple pleasure centers across the brain. Furthermore, he points out that artificial sweeteners are significantly sweeter than real sugar, activating an evolutionary preference for sweetness that can lead to overeating.

Dr. Hyman also refutes the perception that it is possible to exercise away the consequences of a poor diet. While exercise is important for maintaining good health, it is not feasible to burn off the calories from sugary sodas and Gatorade. Rather than substitute sugary drinks with low-calorie or sugar-free options, Dr. Hyman advocates eating and drinking what he labels "real food" to promote health and weight loss.

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