Can Sparkling Water Cause Weight Gain?

Sparkling water has been somewhat a blessing for those of us who want the best of both worlds. It packs the hydrating benefit of regular water and the fizz of soda without the harmful ingredients.

"If you’re choosing sparkling water that has no sugar or artificial sweeteners in it, then it’s completely fine," said registered dietitian Keri Glassman. "And they do count toward your fluid intake to keep you hydrated."

But research, specifically one published in 2017, made headlines for linking the regular consumption of carbonated water with weight gain.

Here, rats were made to consume the same diet with one on the following: tap water, carbonated soda, diet carbonated soda, and flat soda. According to the findings, those who drank carbonated drinks ate more over the study period than those who drank regular, flat drinks.

"This study clearly shows discernible effect of the carbon dioxide gas in carbonated drinks on increased food ingestion and heightened risk of weight gain, obesity, and fatty liver disease by inducing ghrelin release," the authors wrote.

Ghrelin is a hormone which is released from the digestive system to alert you about hunger. It was suggested that this increased appetite may link sparkling water with overeating and eventual weight gain.

However, it should be considered that the study focused on rats for the most. Differing biology aside, it is also not possible to account for lifestyle factors like exercise without a large, diverse group of human participants. 

So, if you would like to order a refreshing glass of sparkling water during date night, go right ahead. Until the emergence of stronger evidence, experts do recommend following a few minor guidelines.

As with numerous beverages, moderation is key. It is not advisable to completely replace regular, flat water with sparkling water. Consider whether regular consumption of bottled carbonated water is worth the enormous damage it causes to the environment. 

Sparkling water which is sweetened or includes "natural flavors," can be avoided since the ambiguity of ingredients can carry hidden risks. Glassman suggested adding the natural essence yourself by adding chunks of fruit to unflavored water.

While sparkling water is a much healthier option than soda and fruit juice, the way you drink it can have an impact on your dental health. To protect your enamel from the acidic beverage, do not consume it slowly over the course of hours.

"If I leave a bottle of seltzer next to me and I drink it for the next two hours, I’ve actually bathed my teeth in acid for two solid hours," said Mark Wolff from New York University’s College of Dentistry.

Instead, he suggested drinking it in bursts of 5 to 10 minutes to allow saliva to harden the enamel again. Additionally, avoid brushing right after drinking carbonated beverages as the enamel is softened and may be worn down.