Like MacDonalds, Coke is quite often the whipping boy of social media and the anti-christ of ‘clean eating’ advocates.
Look for a few seconds on the internet and you’ll find a reference to Coke being as bad as cocaine and setting off all sorts of health issues in previously healthy people who mistakenly drank a can of Coke.
One such story is doing the rounds at the moment
The story is that a normal healthy Paleo person decided to drink 10 cans of coke a day to see how that would affect him. Similar to super size me in the MacDonalds experiment.
You probably guess whats coming.
Yes the guy put on fat – 23 pounds – and increased his bodyfat from 9% (which is doubtful looking at his before pic) to 16%.
But hold on.
He added 10 cokes a day on top of his normal daily intake.
Thats 1400 calories on top of his normal intake.
So, the guy added 1400 extra calories to his diet.
He got fat.
This is not news, it is not groundbreaking.
Eat 1400 extra calories from ‘healthy foods’ like coconut oil, wholegrain rice or fruit and you’ll get fat. Its the mathematics of eating more than you burn that is the issue here.
Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘Come on Tom its Coke, its bad for you and its sugar. Sugar makes you get fat, it’s just logical’
It absolutely pains me to say though that this isn’t the case. When you control calories it matters not if the carbohydrate sources are simple (coke, sugar, fruit) or complex (rice, bread, potatoes)
In this study there were subjects given a calorie matched diet of either:
- Low Fat and Simple Carbs
- Low Fat and Compex Carbs.
- A control diet
In both 1 and 2 the subjects lost around the same level of bodyfat, and both groups had no significant changes in blood lipids such as Cholesterol.
So does this mean its ok to get all your carbohydrates from Coke in a day provided you stay within calorie restricted levels?
Well, Yes and No. Firstly if your only goal is body composition then yes you could do this.
However aside from the data in the study, there are other factors to consider, for example drinking a lot of sugar will cause large variances in blood sugar which will make cravings for sugar more intense.
This means that sticking to your diet will be much harder and the likelihood that you will break and cheat is much higher. So massive willpower would be needed.
Secondly the implications on your teeth from downing 10 cans of coke a day are not great and the risk of tooth decay may rise.
The key word here is moderation. You can very easily fit a can of coke into your diet every day if you wanted to and still lose weight. You just need to make sure your calories are controlled. This is the same for any food.
Part of the process of constructing diets at BKM Nutrition is to identify foods clients like and incorporate them as much as possible into the diet plans so that adherence to the diet is as high as possible.
Its ok to give someones a diet of chicken and veg 4 times a day but how likely are they to stick to that?
In my experience very low after a few weeks.
People like different tastes, colours and textures in their food. By incorporating some of the ‘cheat’ food into the diet the process is perceived as easier and the client happier, even though they are in the same calorie restriction as the 4 x chicken and veg diet.
Finally, you’re probably thinking ‘why has he not mentioned insulin’ surely that makes you fat? Coke makes you produce lots of insulin?
Well yes that is the case and this is part of why the 10 cokes a day would be difficult to stick to in terms of restricting calories as blood sugar may drop leading to a craving for other sugars causing over eating. But this is not insulin making you fat, this is more calories making you fat.
Ultimately on any diet fat loss will be determined by eating less calories than you expend. Drink 1400 calories from coke in a day and expend 2000. You’ll still lose fat. You’ll just be the worst person to be around and you’ll most likely feel awful too.
But you’ll be leaner.
Take home message
You can incorporate a can of coke into your diet easily without causing much issue. The more cans you drink though the harder it will be to stick to a restrictive diet.
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