I used to drink a Diet Coke or two each day. Back in my late teens/early twenties, when diet food was still all the rage and before I knew better, I considered diet soda a no-calorie, healthy alternative to alcohol and anything else I probably really wanted more. As in, I probably shouldn’t have a beer so I’ll have a Diet Coke.
Now I stick with carbonated water or low-sodium club soda when I want something “sparkly”, most of the time. I never was a lover of real pop. It’s just too sweet for me. Also, not enough alcohol content. I see a lot of food journals, though. I have had clients who begin training with me and are consuming up to 8-10 cans of soda per day. That is upwards of 3 litres of soda per day.
But is it really any different from drinking too much juice? Or too much chocolate milk? What about those stories of cola being used as a solvent and cleaner?
Before you hit the vending machine this afternoon, consider this. What really happens to your body if you drink a Coke? Like, right now. Well, here’s how the next hour or two will look for you:
In the first 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor, allowing you to keep it down.
20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (And there’s plenty of that at this particular moment.)
40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate; your blood pressure rises; as a response, your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked, preventing drowsiness.
45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.
> 60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium, and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.
> 60 minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium, and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolytes, and water.
> 60 minutes: As the rave inside you dies down, you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, pissed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like hydrating your system, or building strong bones and teeth.
This will all be followed by a caffeine crash in the next few hours. (As little as two if you’re a smoker.)
Coke itself isn’t the enemy here. It’s the dynamic combo of massive sugar doses combined with caffeine and phosphoric acid, which are found in almost all sodas. Moderation, people!
And if that didn’t scare you, here are the ingredients in that bubbly, caffeinated, coloured syrup you’re enjoying: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid, preservatives, caffeine, caramel coloring, potassium benzoate, natural flavors.
Mmmmmm…. potassium benzoate and HFCS. Just like Mom used to make.