Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Diet Water? Get Real

Among the numerous products available promising to help slim your waist is a bold new concept - bottled diet water. Diet water? Water, the naturally occurring compound that accounts for the vast majority of composition in all organic matter, is totally void of caloric content in its ordinary state. So how does one take an abundant naturally occurring compound that contains zero calories and make it "diet"? Actually it's quite simple - marketing.

Bottled water is the world's fastest growing beverage industry sector valued upwards of $46 billion annually. In 2004, global consumption of bottled water reached a staggering 154 billion liters, or 41 billion gallons. Americans, alone, accounted for about 26 billion liters, making us the world's leading consumer of bottled water. And with over 150 different bottles waters on the market, beverage companies had to come up with a new sales pitch in order to gain a competitive advantage. Hence, "healthier" water products.

The multitude of enriched and vitamin fortified waters from numerous major beverage companies are targeted at the health and fitness enthusiast. Among these new chic waters are products claiming to promote weight loss. Jana's newest product, Skinny Water, makes the claim that it blocks the absorption of carbohydrates, increases metabolism and makes you feel less hungry.

Scientists at Jana add an ingredient to their water (water that comes from an artesian well in Croatia) identified only as Super CitriMax. Jana recommends four bottles daily to be consumed 30 minutes before meals. Jana's only claim that can be truly substantiated is that it reduces hunger when consumed 30 minutes before mealtime - although, the same claim can be made of water that comes from the tap or any other source of water.

Jana's advertising cites proof of its claims based on the results of a study conducted at the Georgetown University Medical Center showing that after eight weeks, users experienced an average weight loss of 10 pounds. When contacted for a story airing on WPIX-CW11, in New York, Dr. Harry Preuss, the lead researcher in the Georgetown Study said, "I hate to talk about Skinny Water because I really don't know much about Skinny Water." In fact, Dr. Preuss' research didn't investigate Skinny Water, only hydroxycitric acid, the active ingredient in CitriMax. However, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a separate study with a larger group of concluded users of CitriMax experienced no significant difference in weight loss compared to a placebo.

Other designer waters claiming to promote weight loss add stimulants to their bottled water. Stimulants can sometimes be effective at reducing appetite. Among their many drawbacks is the very hungry appetite that you are left with in the evening as the stimulant wears off. Another side effect is the moderate to sever disruptions in one's sleep patterns that often occur as a result of taking stimulant drugs. Stimulant drugs disturb your body's homeostasis and prevent you from getting the appropriate amount of sleep. This causes your Leptin levels to be out of balance and your appetite will actually increase while your metabolism is slowing down.

The intention here isn't to single out any particular brand or product, but to address the issue of water products that include ingredients other than H20. A good rule of thumb - if what you're drinking has an ingredients list on the label, it's probably not the best choice. Beverages are one of the easiest ways to rack up excess calories throughout the day.

With so many weight loss products on the market promising a quick fix, it's all the more important for everyone to be skeptics. There is no path to fitness and well-being that bypasses hard work and a commitment to change. By drinking water without any additives you ensure that you stay properly hydrated, minimize your intake of empty calories, keep your appetite regulated and minimize "bored" snacking. The best additive for drinking water is probably an ice cube. There is some research that suggests that drinking water at cold temperatures can cause the body to expend calories in order to raise that temperature of the cold water to one more suitable to our bodies. Now, that's diet water.


Pete Piranio, BS, CSCS, Owner of Fitness Together and Piranio Fitness Systems, Inc is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

For more information, check out www.fitnesstogether.net.

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