Saturday, October 5, 2013

Does Coke Really Make You Fat?

How Does “Coke” Make You Fat? You can tell that someone is from Texas if they refer to ALL soft drinks as “Coke”. For me, being a true born and raised Austin boy, well guilty as charged.So, grab your “Coke”, now pour it out. Your “Coke” is literally making you fat with every sip.

Intuitively, you probably already know this as truth. But we’re really good at playing mental gymnastics with ourselves…Especially when it comes to giving up on our favorite vices.

That fizzy, bubbly, cold, refreshing, carbonated wonderment of romanticized “drink and BE awesome” isnt doing you any favors at all. Contrary to what advertising suggests, it doesn’t make you faster, better looking, wittier, able to “enjoy summer more”, or more radical...

It just makes you fatter. But why, and how does a liquid make you fat anyways? 

Following up on my #1 Fat Loss Tip from Saturday, we know that eating or drinking anything that elevates blood sugar and therefore elevates insulin for a sustained period causes your body to store those foods as fat. Even worse, elevated insulin over time will also cause the creation of new fat cells. Fatter, more abundant fat cells. No thanks.

Soft drinks and blood sugar spikes….

Soft drinks and energy drinks are especially and uniquely problematic when it comes to elevating blood sugar and insulin.

Here’s why: High Fructose Corn Syrup

Coke, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, ANY DRINK OR FOOD PRODUCT that contains HFCS makes you fatter. Its simple physiology and I’ll explain why.

First things first though…if you want less body fat, simply avoid ALL food and drinks made with HFCS. That means avoiding all sodas and staying out of ALL Fast Food joints for starters. Even the “healthy” ones like Subway use HFCS in some of their breads, meats, dressings etc.

The sweet basics:

Sucrose is table sugar. Fructose is the sugar found in fruit. Glucose is a simple sugar found in plants that your body utilizes for its basic energy needs.

In sucrose (aka granular table sugar) a chemically bonded ratio of 50/50 fructose to glucose exists. Because of this natural chemical bond your body has to work a little digestive magic before allowing the component parts of  sucrose: fructose and glucose into the blood stream.

After sucrose is eaten and digested the glucose goes right to work providing your energy needs first. The fructose (fruit sugar) is slowed down and sent to the liver (the only place the body can break it down) to be converted to glycogen to fuel the detoxification processes of the liver or into glucose for the bodies energy needs.

In either case, insulin response stays relatively low, and your body is able to use the fructose and glucose from natural sugar for energy as nature intended…without storing it as body fat.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a different animal all together.

You grab your favorite type of regular Coke, sweetened with HFCS. High Fructose Corn Syrup is a man made sweetener derived from corn that contains concentrated fructose and glucose in a ratio of 55 fructose to 42 glucose. This unnatural 55/42 ratio of fructose to glucose is precisely why  HFCS makes us fat.

Its the where and the how our bodies process HFCS.

Unlike table sugar, the fructose and glucose are not bonded in HFCS. So, no real digestion is needed. That means the two sugars have instant VIP access to your blood stream and to your liver.

If you recall from my #1 Fat Loss Tip, eating foods that digest slowly like lean proteins and low glycemic carbs from veggies, limit insulin response. Limited insulin response means that those calories can be used for energy and muscle tissue repair rather than stored as body fat.

Drinking (or eating) HFCS does the exact opposite of that.

No natural bond exists between the fructose and glucose in HFCS. Therefore no real digestion needed, so the glucose and concentrated fructose are off to the races as soon as you take your first sip of Coke. The glucose dumps into the bloodstream which immediately signals your pancreas to release insulin.

Instant fat storing mode has begun.

Insulin signals your fat cells to stop releasing fatty acids. It tells your muscle cells to stop burning fatty acids and to burn glucose instead. It also signals for your fat cells to re-uptake fatty acids and pull in glucose to be converted and stored as fat (triglycerides) in your fat cells. You get fatter.
So far that’s bad enough if we stop there. But, we still have the concentrated fructose in the liver to deal with, which is what makes this such a unique problem for the body, and the reason why we get extra fat from HFCS.

Our body is unable to process fructose very efficiently. The only place fructose can be broken down is in the liver. Glucose, on the other hand can be converted just about anywhere in the body to be used for energy.

Since we’re so inefficient at metabolizing fructose in smal doses, a large, highly concentrated dose from a soft drink is a recipe for metabolic disaster.

Fructose in moderate amounts from whole fruit, is okay. During digestion the water and fiber present in fruit slow down fructose delivery to the blood stream which then transports it to the liver. The liver can handle small amounts of fructose and convert it to glycogen for its own energy needs, or glucose to be used by the body.

But when slammed with a direct ultra highly concentrated dose, the liver can only do one thing to protect itself, and thats lipogenesis, or conversion of fructose to body fat. We get soda, we get fatter.
A side note on fruit and fructose…

Anthropologically, a high volume of fruit (and its component sugar, fructose) is not meant to be a consistent, sustaining staple in our diet. This is the likely reason we are so inefficient at processing fructose to begin with. This is bolstered by the fact that fructose is found in fruit vs. glucose which is abundantly found in all dietary plant sources. So fruit should be a very small part (i.e. one small to medium apple per day) of our diet and eaten seasonally. I frequently tell our campers who want to lose body fat, to cut out the fruit, which is usually returned with a blank stare followed by a version of “but fruit is healthy and its a ‘natural’ sugar”. Yes fructose is ‘natural’, but its still a sugar. A sugar which takes extra energy to metabolize, and can only be metabolized in the liver. More so if its not able to be converted into glycogen for immediate use by the liver it will just be converted to body fat for storage (usually on the belly). So, fruit is okay in moderation if your body fat percentage is where you want it. But, if your immediate goal is fat loss, fast…its best to hold off on the fruit. 

A quick review of the 3 steps to getting fat, when you drink a soda containing HFCS….

The un-bonded, 55/42 concentrated fructose to glucose ratio in HFCS requires no digestion and enters our blood stream instantly. This spikes insulin. That insulin signals our fat cells to re-uptake fatty acids and store glucose as fat (1. We get fatter). It signals for our muscle cells to stop burning fatty acids and to burn only glucose as fuel (2. We get fatter).

Finally, fructose is unique because it can only be processed by the liver. The liver can only handle small amounts of fructose which it converts to glycogen for fuel or into glucose. When slammed with the high dose fructose from HFCS the liver is forced to initate lipogenesis and converts fructose to fat (3. We get even fatter), and if that wasnt enough….

Theres more!

The kicker to HFCS and its convestion to fat by the liver, is that the fat from that conversion is then is almost exclusively deposited on the belly area. “Have a Coke and a…Spare Tire”

By the way, in case you’re thinking “diet” soda is the solution, its not. The artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharine) in diet drinks/foods are toxic and also contribute to body fat gain. That’s a post for another time.

For now…in stead of soda, hows cold, clean, clear, metabolism boosting water sound? Grab a glass, toss in some frozen strawberries and a couple packets of stevia , for perfect summer refreshment. Aim for 1/2 your weight in ounces of water per day. If you weigh 150 pounds drink at least 75 ounces of water. It speeds up metabolism, flushes toxins, mitigates hunger, keeps energy levels high, and having to pee has been proven to increase concentration levels. Do with that what you will :-)

Finally, remember this:
“If God Make It  Eat It. If Man Made It Leave It” -Jack LaLane
Read labels. Avoid HFCS. Your waistline and  your liver will thank you.

Got questions? Ready to get started looking and feeling your best…on a permanent basis? I can help with a plan based on your specific needs. Email or text/call and tell me what your struggling with 512-773-9451

Take Time To Take Care of You,


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