Coke in One Hour: The Graphic Was Just Wrong

It makes coke brown- food coloring - Caramel additives

It makes coke brown- food coloring – Caramel additives

Oh the Infographic about Coke – it was compelling – it was entertaining – it was wrong

Sugar in Coke

The first comment – the 10 teaspoons of sugar, 100% of your daily intake. Well yes, there are about 44 grams of sugar in coke, and the American Heart Association recommends a daily intake not to exceed 36 grams for men.

Does that much sugar make you vomit were it not for the phosphorus? Nope.Consider Tree-Top Apple Grape Juice with more sugar than coke and yet no phosphoric acid. Does it make you vomit? Nope. Many candy bars have more sugar, like a Mars bar – and they don’t make you vomit. Ever see a kid on Halloween night – they don’t vomit.

Contains more sugar than coke and yet no one vomits from it.

Contains more sugar than coke and yet no one vomits from it.

Insulin Spike in 20 minutes turning sugar into fat – wrong

Basic mistake made by many. Glucose when confronted by insulin typically turns into glycogen. But lets see what happens to the “sugar” or high-fructose corn syrup is that the glucose and the fructose are separated. The glucose hits the small bowel and your body quickly gobbles it up. The fructose isn’t quickly gobbled up because your body has no way to use fructose as an energy source.

Fructose does not spike insulin, but it does have some devastating effects on the body. I wrote about this before in the blog High Fructose Corn Syrup: Health Risks.

But the insulin does more than just allow you to save and utilize glucose. Insulin stops you from burning fat cells (lipolysis) and facilitates storage of fat.  That burger you ate with the coke, the insulin facilitates the storage of the fat and proteins in that burger.

Caffeine and Coke

The next series has to do with the effects of caffeine and coke. In a can of coke there are 39 milligrams of caffeine but in the cup of coffee you drink there has between 80 and 125 milligrams of caffeine. Tea has between 15 and 70 mg of caffeine.

Caffeine does not stimulate the production of dopamine. It can enhance its effect. But you get more from a cup of coffee or a strong cup of tea.

Phosphorus Binding

What happens in a lab does not happen in the body. In this case a study looking at the effect of colas on bone density showed that there was no impact on soft drinks containing phosphorus on the binding of calcium. Some felt that the effect seen on bone density on those who drank colas was due to not drinking milk.

Dehydration – not

The cola does not dehydrate you – in fact you have a net positive in terms of fluid in your body. Of the 12 ounces of liquid in the cola you will be up more than about 11.5 ounces.

Sugar rush – nope

You will have plenty of sugar stored after you drink your cola. Will you get a sugar crush from the sugar rush? No evidence of this at all. So with the increase glucose your insulin stored, it can now get it out of storage.

Just about everything in this infographic is wrong

Just about everything in this infographic is wrong

Is coke a healthy drink? No, it is a recreational. It won’t leave you worse off than before you drank it, but it won’t be as devastating as the infographic portrays.

I don’t recommend drinking colas – you don’t need that much sugar.

After drinking coke you will:

Have some more stored energy with glucose (about half the calories in coke are stored in a nice manner). The other fructose, in some people, can be metabolized into fat, but in most it won’t have that effect.

You will have more fluid than before, that is- you will be more hydrated than before you drank the coke.

The caffeine – might wake you up a bit, not as much as a cup of coffee though.

You won’t be depleted of calcium.

In terms of the acid- the stomach has far more powerful acids in it- the coke is diluting the stomach acid.


Barger-Lux, M. J.; Heaney, R. P.; Stegman, M. R. (1990). “Effects of moderate caffeine intake on the calcium economy of premenopausal women”. The American journal of clinical nutrition 52 (4): 722–725. PMID 2403065

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit

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