There was a study that came out in 2017 – ‘Carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages induces ghrelin release and increased food consumption in male rats: Implications on the onset of obesity’ – which studied rats initially, and then 20 human subjects. The study found that when the humans drank carbonated water it significantly increased their levels of ghrelin – the hunger hormone – when compared to those subjects who drank regular water.
Now, that’s interesting, but I wouldn’t extrapolate it to make any recommendation about avoiding carbonated water. What isn’t quoted in the research is all the multifactorial variables that can influence hunger – for example, a person’s level of activity or the quality of their meals.
One of the first things we teach people who are trying to control physical hunger is to consider things like regular eating, experimenting with the amount of protein and fat in their diet, and monitoring their glycaemic index and fibre intake – because we know these factors can keep you feeling fuller for longer.
If you prefer to have carbonated water, then from a hydration perspective I say go for it. There’s a multitude of benefits you can enjoy from getting enough water, whatever its source. I would also recommend people apply Evelyn Tribole’s ‘10 Principles of Intuitive Eating’, especially in terms of honouring your hunger. If you’re feeling hungry, that’s a physiological need that you should address – rather than suppress.
I’d encourage people to reject the diet mentality and call out the next fad dieting rule for what it is: an attempt by the multimillion-dollar weight loss industry to seduce a vulnerable market. Make peace with food and your body by giving it the nourishment it deserves. And if you want to wash a meal down with a glass of bubbly water and a sprig of mint, because it may just taste better than plain water, then all the better.
– Sonya Douglas, accredited practising dietitian at Dietwise Nutrition Clinics.