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I drink a lot of soda, on average a liter per day. I seem to have a very fast metabolism and as I don't gain weight easily, have not been too concerned about health risks, partly because I think a lot of the claims are overblown and exaggerated.

It seems to me that soda is basically sugar water, with the only bad thing being excess sugar consumption, which isn't a problem unique to soda.

Most of the problems seem to be related to weight gain and as this doesn't seem to effect me I wonder if I have any reason to cut it out of my diet.

As I start to exercise, will my consumption of soda hold me back? If so, why? Please back up answers with links to reliable sources or studies where possible.

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I should note I am not asking in general if soda is bad, but if it will have a negative effect on my exercise since I don't gain weight easily. –  Matt Bronson Feb 14 '12 at 0:57
    
re: overblown and exaggerated claims: If you don't believe the claims made by the medical profession, why would you believe a bunch of anonymous people on the internet? –  dave Feb 14 '12 at 11:14
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@MattBronson Why are you exercising? What is your goal? –  Aaron McIver Feb 14 '12 at 16:56
    
I guess it's true the only bad thing is the excess sugar... the water and CO2 bubbles won't hurt you. But as far has "holding back" or "negating effects" it depends what you are trying to accomplish. More than minimal amounts of fructose/sucrose is not generally useful as fuel for exercise. –  J. Winchester Feb 14 '12 at 17:38
    
@dave I have no problem accepting a consensus from competent experts. I give less weight to the average man on the street that makes overblown claims about soda and associated health risks. –  Matt Bronson Feb 15 '12 at 1:07

1 Answer 1

It seems to me that soda is basically sugar water, with the only bad thing being excess sugar consumption, which isn't a problem unique to soda.

Actually, soda can contain aspartame, HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), phosphoric acid, caffeine, and/or empty calories, all of which are a lot more dangerous than generic sugar water.

Most of the problems seem to be related to weight gain and as this doesn't seem to effect me I wonder if I have any reason to cut it out of my diet.

Weight gain is only one of the many negative results from soda consumption. Sodas can increase insulin levels causing obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Additionally, if the soda contains high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) it is not processed in the same way traditional sugar is processed because HFCS affects (or rather bypasses) the reptin receptors in your brain which regulate satiety. Other negative effects include depleted calcium making bones weaker, hyperactivity, and caffeine dependence.

As I start to exercise, will my consumption of soda hold me back? If so, why?

The phosphoric acid in sodas leech calcium from your body and thus weaken your bones. Having weakened bones substantially increases your risk of injury as your level of exercise scales in intensity.

Caffeinated sodas act as a diuretic, which in conjunction with exercise can cause dehydration.

Finally, sodas are empty calories (calories with no nutritional value), which is generally something you want to stay away from to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

There are numerous studies confirming everything I've said which can be found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and here are two articles from LiveStrong.com which go into more detail about everything I've covered (and more).

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Thanks for your answer. Aspartame is only in diet sodas, or is it in all? The main effects you list seem to be potentially weakened bones and dehydration. Can they be circumvented by drinking sufficient water and taking calcium supplemented? My goal is to build bicep muscle. –  Matt Bronson Feb 15 '12 at 1:13
    
@MattBronson Aspartame is the sugar replacement for diet sodas, and is the primary reason why diet sodas have the opposite effect: making you gain more weight than traditional sodas. Honestly, you can gain muscle mass just fine drinking soda. If that and that alone is your end goal for exercising, then you're fine to continue drinking sodas. However, once again I would recommend re-evaluating the pros and cons to drinking soda because it really isn't good for your body in any way. –  Moses Feb 15 '12 at 16:28
    
I don't touch diet sodas, so no worries there. In my country sodas don't use HFCS but sugar, so also not too worried there. Looking at pro's and cons of soda it seems I have to manage my sugar intake and otherwise account for weakened bones, which I can do with supplements. After looking into it I feel like the risk is often exaggerated, at least for non-diet sugar based sodas. Thanks again for your answer. –  Matt Bronson Feb 18 '12 at 11:25

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