An infographic titled What Happens One Hour After Drinking a Can of Coke? created by former pharmacist Niraj Naik and published on the blog The Renegade Pharmacist rapidly went viral. The infographic was praised and criticized, which prompted us to research the statements to validate whether they are accurate. Keep reading if you seek practical advice about the effects of Coke or other cola drinks on your health.
The First 10 Minutes After Drinking Coke
STATEMENT: Naik claims that a coca cola contains 10 teaspoons of sugar and that phosphoric acid prevents us from vomiting after drinking it.
TRUE AND FALSE: According to the Coca-Cola website, a 12 fl oz can contains 39 grams of sugar, which is approximately 10 teaspoons. This statement is factual. Phosphoric acid is added to Coke to give it a tangy flavor. Nonetheless, the flavoring does not prevent vomiting. This claim is exaggerated. For example, many brands of orange, grape, and apple juices also contain 10 teaspoons of sugar without the phosphoric acid and we can easily chug a 12-ounce juice drink without vomiting.
CAUTION: Phosphoric acid, which is a substance found in Coke and other cola drinks, is a controversial ingredient. It is highly acidic and linked to low bone mineral density (BMD) in older women. It is a substance that should be limited in those who are worried about low BMD.
After 20 Minutes
STATEMENT: Naik claims that blood sugar spikes cause insulin to burst. As a result, the liver turns the sugar into fat.
TRUE AND FALSE: According to Livestrong, if sugar calories are not used as energy immediately after they are consumed, they are converted into body fat. Keep in mind that sodas in the US such as Coke contain fructose, which is more prone to be stored as body fat than other types of sugar.
The good news is, it is possible to burn the 140 calories that a 12-ounce Coke contains. Burning 140 calories varies person-to-person by gender, age, height, and weight. For example, a 25-year-old woman who weighs roughly 130 pounds can burn these calories by jogging approximately 20 minutes. You can calculate your own burn rate by using a Calorie Burn Calculator.
CAUTION: According to the University of Rochester, sugary soft drinks add calories to your diet and raise insulin levels, which results in visceral fat (fat within the abdominal cavity). Too much visceral fat can raise certain blood proteins and result in metabolic syndrome.
After 40 Minutes
STATEMENT: Naik claims that the caffeine causes your blood pressure to rise, more sugar to be dumped into your bloodstream, and your pupils to dilate.
TRUE AND FALSE: According to this study, caffeine causes a temporary increase in blood pressure. Coffee was primarily researched and it contains more caffeine than cola drinks; however, a raise in blood pressure is a legitimate concern for some. For example, the researchers concluded that caffeine might be harmful to those with hypertension.
There is a debate about whether caffeine in Coke contributes to increased sugar dumped into your bloodstream if you are a healthy adult. Yet, according to WebMD, those with type 2 diabetes can have clinically significant blood-sugar elevations as a result of caffeine use.
According to Livestrong, caffeine interacts with adenosine receptors in the brain and adrenaline (epinephrine) increases. Because of the increased adrenaline (“fight or flight” hormone), your pupils dilate after caffeine ingestion.
CAUTION: According to WebMD, for those with type 2 diabetes, caffeine can interfere with glucose control.
After 45 Minutes
STATEMENT: Naik claims that your body ups your dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain – much like the drug heroin.
TRUE AND FALSE: It cannot be denied that caffeine is addictive and it improves mood, but caffeine represents a minimal risk (even when abused) when compared to other stimulant drugs, according to Pharmacological Reviews.
CAUTION: Again, according to Pharmacological Reviews, a small number of people are more prone to compulsive caffeine use and might have problems reducing or eliminating it.
After 60 Minutes
STATEMENT: At 60 minutes, Naik claims that you will experience a sugar crash and the diuretic properties come into play (you will urinate). He warns that important nutrients are robbed from your body.
TRUE: It is well known that caffeine is a diuretic, which causes increased urination. Cola drinks such as Coke might seem to quench your thirst, but ultimately they cause you to lose fluid.
Moreover, there appears to be a connection between soda and osteoporosis, which indicates there could be calcium loss as a result of this tasty drink. According to WebMD, researchers at Tufts University found that women who drank three or more colas a day had almost a 4% lower BMD in the hip (with calcium and vitamin D intake controlled).
And last of all, many can experience a sugar crash after eating high carbohydrate meals, high sugar foods, and high sugar beverages, such as Coke. Typically, you can feel nervousness, headaches, dizziness, and a variety of other symptoms. Reactive Hypoglycemia is the technical term and it is real for some people. WebMD recommends that you avoid or limit sugary foods and drinks to prevent reactive hypoglycemia from occurring.
CAUTION: What Naik does not mention is caffeine’s half-life is about six hours. This means, if you ingest 200 mg of caffeine at 6:00 PM with dinner, half of that caffeine is still in your system at midnight.
It’s common knowledge that too much sugar is harmful to our health and waistline, but how much is too much?
For reference, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we should reduce the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of our total energy intake. Take these guidelines into consideration: a 30-year-old woman who exercises moderately each day should limit her sugar intake to approximately 25 grams. Consider that energy intake varies depending on many factors. If you want to calculate your personal total energy expenditure, use this calculator.
As for caffeine intake, the Mayo Clinic indicates that up to 400 milligrams of caffeine appears to be safe for most healthy adults, which equals 4 cups of brewed coffee or 10 cans of Coke.