News from Shape Up America!
June 2006
Shape Up America! Newsletter


Liquid Calories are Stealth Calories
by Barbara J. Moore, PhD
The calories you consume in fluid form may place you at greater risk of weight gain than the same number of calories in solid form. This concern about fluids applies to calorie-containing beverages of all types including cola and other sodas, juices, sweetened drinks, sports drinks, and alcoholic beverages. Here’s why.

Your body has a complex physiological mechanism that monitors the calories you consume. Think of it as a “detectometer” for calories. In a normal healthy person, your calorie detectometer is linked to a calorie “compensator” – another physiological mechanism that adjusts your intake to compensate for a calorie load. This allows your total daily calories to remains fairly constant over time. There is evidence that the body’s detectometer does not “see” the calories in beverages as efficiently as it sees calories in solid foods. Since compensation for calories you drink does not occur, you could wind up consuming more calories than you need and, consequently, gain weight.

There are a number of studies that have examined this issue, but the one that is cited most often was published by DiMeglio and Mattes.1 They hypothesized that liquid calories would promote weight gain, whereas the same number of calories in solid form would not. To test this hypothesis, the researchers carefully assessed the usual food intake of 15 young, lean men and women. After one week of baseline assessments of diet, weight, body mass index (BMI) and percentage body fat, the subjects were divided into two groups. In group one, the subjects were allowed to eat their customary diet, but were given a calibrated daily load of 450 liquid calories (i.e., soda), for a four-week period. In group two, the subjects were also allowed their customary diet, but received 450 solid calories (i.e, jelly beans) every day for four weeks. Then, after a four-week “washout period,” both groups followed the opposite treatment for four weeks. So each participant was studied under both conditions – solid calories and liquid calories – with the objective to see if there was compensation in both situations.

Although the calories in the jelly beans and the soda were identical, the subjects failed to detect the calories in the soda. Consequently, in the group given soda, total calorie intake increased and the subjects showed a significant increase in body weight and BMI after four weeks. With liquid calories, percent body fat also increased, but this increase did not reach statistical significance. Because physical activity was monitored, the researchers determined that changes in physical activity could not explain the weight gain in the soda treatment period.

With liquid calories, detection of calories failed and compensation did not occur.

However, in the group receiving jelly beans, the calories in this solid form were detected normally, so compensation occurred. The subjects adjusted the balance of their daily food intake and did not gain weight.

The findings of this study agree with a meta-analysis2 of 42 studies that found at least some compensation for calories consumed in solid form but not for calories consumed in liquid form. This has led some researchers to consider the contribution of soda to the growing prevalence of obesity in America. It has been observed that consumption of calorie-containing beverages started to really take off in the 1970s, with increased beverage consumption corresponding to the onset of the rapid increase in obesity in the United States. Beverage serving sizes have undergone a supersize phenomenon. For example, the seven-ounce fountain drink of the 1950s has been replaced by drinks about two to five times the original size.3 If it is true that the calories consumed in fluids are not detected and compensated for, then delivering ever-larger servings of calorie-laden fluids may promote overconsumption and obesity.

Bottom Line: Liquid calories – especially drinks that offer calories but no nutritional value – should be avoided or at least treated with caution if your goal is to lose weight or prevent weight gain. Don’t be fooled by fluids. Often, people mistakenly believe that drinks are “safe” and can be consumed without concern about weight gain. The one fluid that is perfectly safe to reach for when you are thirsty is water.

Shape Up Your Shoulders
by Michael Roussell
This month we will complete our training basics on each major muscle group with a look at shoulder training. Before we start the exercise, it helps to become familiar with the workings of the shoulder. The shoulder joint is one of the most complex joints in the body. Several important muscles need to work together in order for the shoulder to function properly. In this article, we will focus on the largest of these muscles – the deltoids (sometimes referred to as the shoulder muscle). The deltoid, itself, is made up of three muscles: front deltoid, middle deltoid and rear deltoid. The front deltoid is the part of the shoulder muscles that faces the front, and the middle and rear deltoids face their respective directions.

Previous articles in this series have presented exercises that benefited two of these muscle groups: the front deltoid (during push-ups) and rear deltoid (during reverse push-ups). This month, we will focus on the middle deltoid muscle.

The lateral raise is an exercise that benefits the middle deltoid. To complete this movement, you will need two sturdy plastic grocery bags and some cans or water bottles (for weight). See the May 2006 newsletter if you need a quick reminder about our homemade weights.

To start, stand with your arms at your sides, holding a bag (with weight) in each hand. The movement is very simple; keeping your arms straight for the entire movement, raise your arms straight out from your sides. Continue to raise them up to the level of your shoulders (your body and outstretched arms will form a T), pause, and, in a controlled manner, return your arms to the starting position at your sides. To maximize the effectiveness of this movement, when you are raising your arms, imagine pushing your hands out to the sides as far as they can go. This will help prevent the movement from becoming an exercise in “flapping your wings.”

Your goal is to complete 8-10 reps. If initially you’re unable to do this, simply remove some of the weight from your bags and try again. Over time, try to work up to 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Once you’re able to do that, you can increase the weight. Like other resistance exercises, this exercise should be performed only twice a week.

Family Fitness Fun Tips Now Available in Spanish
Helping your family become more physically active is a great way for everyone to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. That’s why Shape Up America! teamed up with Sweet’N Low to create the popular Family Fitness Fun poster series. The three-part series, with a total of 50 activity tips, is now available in Spanish and can be downloaded as a PDF file at or A colorful full-size poster, 20 Tips For Getting Your Family On Track, can be ordered in English or Spanish, at no cost, while supplies last. For more information, go to

Recipe of the Month
June is peak season for popular California-grown apricots. Pack them with your lunch or try this quick and easy apricot recipe.
Serves 12


  • 4 oz fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 12 fresh apricots, halved
  • ½ cup pistachios, finely chopped


  1. Stir cream cheese until smooth; pipe or spoon into apricot halves.
  2. Sprinkle tops with pistachios.
  3. Serve as an appetizer, snack, or dessert.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 77 calories, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 10 grams carbohydrates, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber, 52 milligrams sodium

Source: California Fresh Apricot Council, 5 A Day recipe

phone: 202-974-5051

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Editor: Adrienne Forman, MS, RD

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