This Is What Really Happens to Your Body Just 1 Hour After Drinking a Can of Coke

July 17, 2019 Updated: July 17, 2019

Maybe you’ve wondered exactly why you feel that reassuring buzz (frequent drinker) or disconcerting surge of energy (rookie) after downing a 330-milliliter (approx. 11-ounce) can of sugar-laden Coca-Cola? Well, we’re about to tell you. But after reading this, you might be tempted to kick the habit!

This graphic that allegedly breaks down the effects a can of Coca-Cola has on a person's body is going viral. What do…

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Medical News Today asserts that sugary drinks are “a major contributor to health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay.” Rather helpfully, the Coca-Cola Company has already done the math for us; for a diet of 2,000 calories per day (that’s an adult human of modest proportions), you should have less than 50 grams (approx. 2 ounces) of added sugar, they say.

They continue: “50g equals a little more than one 12 oz can of Coca-Cola, which has 39g of added sugar.” Yikes!

Illustration – Shutterstock | Pressmaster

We know sugar is a sneaky beast that causes a huge amount of problems for our internal health, but it’s the high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks that is the cause for our concern. Niraj “The Renegade Pharmacist” Naik was inspired to investigate what this beloved beverage is really doing to the inside of our bodies, and he published findings on his website.

“High fructose corn syrup [is] found in pretty much all processed foods such as ready meals, fast foods, sweets, and fizzy drinks,” he writes, “and most people are totally unaware of its danger. Fructose is actually only metabolized by the liver,” he goes on, adding a startling comparison: “it’s very similar to ethanol (the alcohol in drinks).”

Illustration – Unsplash | i yunmai

Drinking soft drinks, Naik continues, is like drinking a beverage containing ethanol but without the “high.” However, there’s a lot that is happening inside your body when you drink a can of coke, and it’s happening even faster than you can imagine. Here’s a breakdown.

1. Within the first 10 minutes

Illustration – Pixabay | 955169

Thirty-five grams of sugar charges into your system like a meteorite. The only reason you don’t “immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness,” Naik writes, is because phosphoric acid and added flavorings counter the overpowering sweetness and allow you to keep the powerful concoction down.

2. Within 20 minutes

Illustration – Shutterstock | Emily frost

Your body experiences an insulin burst after your blood sugar level rises so rapidly. In a revealing exposé on the perils of sugar, The New York Times explains that if fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed (as in drinking a can of coke), the liver’s efficacy is compromised and it will convert much of the sugar into fat.

3. Within 40 minutes

Illustration – Shutterstock | sruilk

Your body has fully absorbed the fizzy beverage’s caffeine content. Hello, wide-awake brain! At this stage, your pupils may dilate, your blood pressure will certainly rise, and your overworked liver will continue to offload sugar into your bloodstream.

4. Within 45 minutes

Illustration – Shutterstock | Shidlovski

Dopamine production increases, stimulating the “pleasure centers” of your brain. The National Center for Biotechnology Information informs that caffeine has a strong psycho-stimulant effect, which, incidentally, is how heroin works and what makes it so perilously addictive. Shocking stuff.

5. After 60 minutes

Illustration – Shutterstock | kenary820

The phosphoric acid in your sugar-loaded fizzy beverage binds calcium to magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, which boosts your metabolism. This may sound good, but in effect it just means everything is working on overdrive. High doses of sugar and artificial additives increase the expulsion of calcium from the body, which weakens your bones.

“The real risk is for those who drink cola every day,” said Katherine Tucker, Ph.D., who led a study at Tufts University in Boston on soda consumption and bone density.

6. There’s more…

Illustration – Pixabay | rawpixel

Caffeine makes you need to pee. Around the 60-minute mark, you will eliminate the calcium, magnesium, and zinc compound that was originally destined for your bones. You will also lose vital sodium, electrolytes, and water, risking dehydration.

7. Even more!

Illustration – Pixabay | RobinHiggins

Have you ever heard the phrase “sugar high?” Well, where there’s a high, there’s a low! One hour after drinking this sugary beverage, you will crash, and hard. You may grind to a halt, become moody, and very, very thirsty (the last warning sign of dehydration). “The condition is especially dangerous for young children and older adults,” Mayo Clinic advises.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Motortion Films

The Coca Cola Company shares a sensible disclaimer with its customers. “While it’s fine in moderation,” they say, “too much sugar isn’t good for anyone.” So rather than feed a habit, consider alternatives! They next time you need a tasty refreshment, and one that won’t compromise your internal health, why not try ice water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime, green tea, or tasty kombucha?

Just don’t rely on cola drinks; you might be inviting 60 minutes of madness!