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Here’s What Happens in the Hour After You Drink a Can of Coke (and What Happened to Me When I Tried It)


“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 beverage.

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.

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.

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 myself.

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 appreciate that.

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 post-meal drowsiness.



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