We haven’t always gotten the best nutrition advice…well, let’s face it, we still don’t. But this little gem really took the cake…and the sugar too. Believe it or not, this vintage ad recommends having a soda before a meal to curb your appetite. Just a friendly diet hint from our friends at “Sugar Information”. For those of you who are not reading this with the assistance of a microscope, the rationale behind this handy diet trick is simple:
“We know it sounds odd – but it can work. Spoil your appetite by eating something with sugar. Sugar works faster than any other food to turn your appetite down, your energy up. Then when mealtime comes, you’re less apt to overeat. Willpower never tasted so good. Sugar…only 18 calories per teaspoon, and it’s all energy.”
Please allow me to burst this sugar bubble, just a bit. It is correct that sugar is more quickly converted to energy than other macronutrients like protein and fat. But that’s where the truth ends. Absolutely…just…ends. In order to poke GIGANTIC holes in this argument, we need to know a little nutrition term called the “glycemic index”. The index scales foods from 0-100 based on how quickly your blood sugar rises after consuming them. Pure glucose gets a 100 on the scale, while peanuts weigh in at a 14. Sugar, or sucrose, earns a 68, meaning the soda you consume before a meal will spike your blood sugar pretty quickly. But without any nutrients that satiate you like protein or fiber, it won’t really do anything to curb your appetite. And while sugar may give you some quick energy, when you go up a hill really quickly, you’re apt to go down it even quicker. So when mealtime rolls around, you’re actually more likely to overeat because your blood sugar has taken a rollercoaster-type dive.
Moral of the story (and you don’t really need a RD to come to this conclusion), consuming a spoonful of sugar before a meal isn’t the best idea to decrease your appetite. If you’re starving, munch on a handful of almonds instead. Alas, despite this marketing effort, it’s still only beneficial to have a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.