'10 Cokes a Day' Project Highlights How Much Sugar We Drink Without Realizing It
We’re all probably aware that it’s not terribly healthy to drink high quantities of soda all the time — but would you go so far as to drink 10 Cokes a day for a month just to make a point? Because there’s a guy on the Internet who’s doing just that. He’s calling the project 10 Cokes a Day, and, well… I have a lot of thoughts about it. Anyone else?
I’ll admit that my initial reaction to 10 Cokes a Day was, “Why? Why would you do that?” I thought that at best, it seemed like a rehash of Super Size Me — and at worst, like an obvious and calculated attempt at landing a book deal based on a fad-y website idea. At a second glance, though, Coke Man — he’s left his name off the project, so I’m just going to call him Coke Man — may be onto something. According to the page on the site simply and aptly titled “WHY?!”, it’s not about the Coke; it’s about how much sugar most of us probably drink per day without even realizing. Here’s how he puts it:
“‘But,’ you’re probably thinking, ‘Everyone knows it wouldn’t be healthy to drink ten Cokes a day, and besides, I only drink four Cokes a day.’ That’s true, perhaps you’re only drinking four Cokes, but if you add in the two glasses of orange juice, the two sweetened coffee drinks from Starbucks, the 16 ounce Odwalla drink the two ‘healthy’ brand ice[d] teas, and the $9 fruit smoothie you waited ten minutes in line for, you’ve made my ten Cokes look like child’s play. Maybe it’s not all Coke, but they’re all sugar drinks, and a big percentage of Americans drink at least the sugar equivalent of my ten Cokes.”
I think the laundry list of possible sugar culprits in there is a little overdone, but he’s got a point. We do have tendency not to include the things we drink in the nutritional calculations we do in our head; we’re probably most guilty of not accounting for the calories we drink, but the amount of sugar in those beverages is also worth considering. I mean, there’s a reason I only have specialty coffee beverages every once in a while; a Grande Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks, for example, has a whopping 410 calories and 54 grams of sugar. Consuming just one of those every day would start to add up in an incredibly brief amount of time.
According to Coke Man, he normally maintains a Paleo diet; he also says he’s a bad Paleo, though, citing his occasional cheats of beer and ice cream and a less-than-rigorous workout routine. But generally, he stays away from carbs and eats mainly protein and veggies, and the stats he collected via a physical with a doctor before he started 10 Cokes a Day are pretty healthy: 168 lbs., 135/80 blood pressure, and so on. Here’s his introduction video explaining the whole thing:
His plan has had him keeping track of his weight, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and other essential stats for 30 days; if I’ve done my math right, he’s on day 27 now. He wrote on his website that he’s aiming to finish his Coke consumption by late afternoon each day so the caffeine doesn’t keep him awake at night. He also reserved “the right to have Cherry Coke, just to break up the monotony,” but noted that he wouldn’t be switching to Diet at any point (“That would sort of ruin the whole point, he wrote”). He’s been keeping us updated via Tumblr, Facebook, and occasional YouTube videos. Here’s the short version:
One Week Down:
After one week and 70 Cokes, he’d gained six pounds.
Two Weeks Down:
On Day 14, he weighed in at 179.5 lbs. with a total gain of 12.5 pounds. “Jeans fit tight, shirts fit tight, picking up kids from the floor seems that much harder,” he wrote on Facebook.
Three Weeks Down:
“I don’t feel good today,” he said in his video update. “I’ve had a headache all day.” He didn’t know if it was from the sugar or the caffeine, but either way, he still felt gross. He weighed in at 184 pounds; that’s a 16 pound increase from his weight at the start.
Three Weeks and Some Change:
His most recent update is from November 17; by then, the scale had crept up to 187.5 lbs. Yikes.
I’ll be honest: I still think it’s a little stunt-y. But sometimes, maybe we need stunts like this to remind us of seemingly little things that can make a big difference in our overall well-being. Start small: Maybe stop putting sugar in your coffee, or try to drink water most of the time instead of soda or juice. Little changes add up over time — and if you play your cards right, you can make them work for you, rather than against you.
Find out more at the 10 Cokes a Day website.