February 20, 2009

You Ask, I Answer: Liquid Calories

There's been quite a lot written about liquid calories in the last couple of years. Specifically, Nutrition Action (published by CSPI) has repeatedly warned that too many calories from milk, juice, and soda can lead to weight gain

I don't drink any of these things, but I do enjoy pureed whole foods.

If I make a smoothie from yogurt and whole fruit, or if I blend my vegetable and bean soup into a smooth puree, does my body read that as liquid or solid calories?

It's not clear to me if the problem with liquid calories is that they lack fiber and therefore don't fill you up, or if being pureed makes the sugars in food hit the bloodstream too quickly.

Or some other explanation entirely.

-- Rachelle Thibodeau
Ottawa, Canada

The type of liquid calories you refer to are different than juice and soda because they contain fiber and, therefore, take longer to digest.

That said, since smoothies are quickly consumed (more so than soups, which are hot and can take some time to finish), it can be very easy to down an 800 calorie one (i,e: a blend of milk, peanut butter, flax oil, and weight gaining powders) in a matter of minutes.

I should also note that a homemade smoothie with yogurt and whole fruits is different than many commercial ones made with fruit-flavored syrups or juice concentrates.

As for your blended soups: a pureed version of a food raises blood sugars more quickly than those same foods in their whole form, but since you are dealing with vegetables and beans, the fiber content is still high -- and will be helpful in filling you up quickly.

I refrain from putting milk in the same category as soda and juice drinks.

A glass of milk (whether dairy, soy, or nut) contains protein, a variety of nutrients, and some fat (depending on the variety of milk you drink). It is not liquid candy.

The concern with milk and weight gain has more to do with sugar-laden milk-based concoctions like milkshakes, flavored milks, and yogurt beverages that have as much sugar as a can of soda.

1 comment:

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