Jul. 29, 2015
“Pop” goes the tab on a can of Coke. Maybe you sip it and it’s gone in 20
minutes, or maybe you were thirsty and downed it in just a few glugs.
Either way, 39
grams of sugar and 45 milligrams
of sodium — in addition to some phosphoric acid, caffeine and other ingredients
— from a 12-ounce serving are now in your system. And while you might not be
actively thinking about it at the time, your body is hard at work processing the
Here’s a nice visual by former U.K. pharmacist Niraj Naik, also known as the Renegade
Pharmacist, showing what happens in
the hour after you drink a can of
Coke (Note: Naik’s text comes from a post
by Wade Meredith at Blisstree):
Knowing full well that I would be destined for a sugar crash and that I would
probably be guilted into foregoing my nightly scoop of ice cream to compensate
for it, I decided to drink a can of Coke and record how I felt physically while
also contemplating the process going on inside my body for an hour afterward.
Ready to record the “rave” this can of Coke will create inside my body.
(Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)
Here’s how it went:
12:12 p.m. ET: Begin
drinking can of Coke. I should point out, just so these observations are made in
context, that I did not drink the Coke on an empty stomach, which could impact
how I feel the effects of it. I am not a frequent soda drinker. I’d rate my
level of soda consumption to about as often as I go to the movies, which because
I have an 8-month-old baby is very few and far between. I am a morning coffee
drinker, so the caffeine jolt shouldn’t be a shock to my system outside of it
being an extra hit for the day.
Here we go. (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)
12:14 p.m. ET: Finished can
of Coke. I’m pleased and surprised at how quickly I could drink the carbonated
beverage, and despite a few discrete burps, I’m feeling pretty good about
12:24 p.m. ET: Not feeling too different physically from my everyday
self. At this point, according to the infographic, the only reason I’m able to
keep all this sugar down in my stomach right now is thanks to the phosphoric
acid in the beverage making it seem less sweet. As someone who has experienced
being sick to one’s stomach on sweets (Swedish Fish candies circa 2005), I can
12:34 p.m. ET: No change physically — perhaps my love of candy has made
me immune to noticing the effects of such a sugar surge. But, now is when I
should be starting my sugar rush, according to the graphic, and my liver is
apparently kicking into high gear to turn these extra sugars into fat (oh, joy).
Cue me putting a cardboard box on my desk (my eco-friendly and economical
version of standing desk) so I can stand and hopefully burn some of these
calories before they all turn into fat.
12:44 p.m. ET: Still feeling
pretty normal over here, though I haven’t mentally gotten over the idea that I’m
likely forming fat cells as we speak.
12:54 p.m. ET: With the
caffeine from the Coke well integrated in my system at this point, as the
graphic says it should be, I do feel pretty peppy, not hyper, but definitely
awake. The Coke seems to have brought me through the lunch hour without
“Share a Coke with a Legend.” (Photo credit: Liz Klimas/TheBlaze)
1:04 p.m. ET: Within the
last 10 minutes, I felt like my heart was beating a little bit faster than
before, which could actually be an increase in blood pressure, or perhaps I’m
just more aware because I’m thinking about it. It was around the 45-minute mark
that the infographic said my dopamine levels should have increased, “stimulating
the pleasure centers” of my brain.” Well, I feel happy, so if that’s what’s
going on, then good.
1:14 p.m. ET: I most definitely had to use the lady’s room already —
well before this hour mark. Though I haven’t had my sugar crash yet, from
previous experience, I know it’s coming.
1:40 p.m. ET: About an
hour-and-a-half post-Coke drinking, I’m starting to feel the crash (that, or the
effects of waking up at 5 a.m.).
My overall assessment from this exercise is that when you are forced to think
about the physiological aspect of going on to process that can of soda, it
certainly makes you wonder if it was worth drinking (especially in light of the
aforementioned ice cream restriction I’ll be imposing on myself tonight).
In an email to TheBlaze, Naik explained that he decided to quit his job as a
pharmacist at the head office of ASDA Walmart after he managed without
medication to overcome a chronic auto-immune disease that doctors told him it
would require a lifelong regimen of drugs.
Naik said he’s helped others wean themselves off long-term medication,
especially blood pressure medication, statins and diabetic drugs. One of his
first recommendations would be to stop drinking sugary beverages.
“My first advice to them would be to do a simple swap. Replacing fizzy drinks
with water with fresh lemon or lime juice,” he wrote. “In many cases just doing
this would have a dramatic effect on their health. So this indicated to me that
fizzy drinks and sugar were big issues relating to blood pressure and metabolic
diseases like diabetes and heart disease.”
Naik wrote more about how
the ingredients in most sodas react in the body in
a post on his blog the Renegade Pharmacist back in May. It’s starting to get
play again after it was reposted by