L.A. resident George Prior, a Paleo diet aficionado decided to conduct an experiment - in a "Super Size Me" way - by drinking 10 cans of coke every day for 30 days. So 300 cokes overall. He then documented his results on his website 10cokesaday.com.
The trick to this is that Prior made no other changes to his otherwise healthy diet. He had a very healthy diet already (and a pretty lean, muscular body), so he would just be adding sugary drinks to his daily diet. That means he was putting 350 extra grams of sugar into his body every day.
So what difference do you think that would make? After all, not many people actually drink 10 cokes per day, do they?
Actually a lot of people do drink the equivalent of that.
"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 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," explains Prior.
So yes, sometimes people do drink that much every day. Or eat the equivalent amount of calories in junk food. A single can of Coca-Cola is 139 calories, so 10 cans is 1,390 calories - approx. 70% of your daily energy needs.
3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat. Thus consuming 41,700 calories in 30 days, we would expect Prior to gain 11.914 lbs of fat in 30 days.
At the start of his experiment he weighed in at 168 lbs. 30 days later he weighed 191 lbs, an increase of 23 lbs. How is this possible that the amount consumed led to a larger than expected weight gain?
There are several possibilities:
#1. Prior cheated on his experiment, eating more than he claimed he was. But we will assume he was honest in his experimentation and give him the benefit of the doubt.
#2. The sheer amount of sugar caused him to become temporarily diabetic and also slowed his metabolism. A dramatically slower metabolism would cause him to store more sugar as fat, leading to excessive weight gain.
Anyone who has ever gained 20 lbs during the Christmas Holidays know how option #2 happens.
#3, Prior also gained muscle / bone density during that time period. Since the meat and veggies he was eating wasn't being used for energy due to the abundance of sugar in his system, those materials would have then been used for growing extra muscle and increasing his bone density. Increased bone density is normal for anyone putting on extra muscle / weight, as your bones needs to be able to support the extra weight.
#4. Combination of #2. and #3. But how would we know?
Well, fortunately there is a way to check. We compare his body fat percentages and total body fat weight.
At the start of the experiment Prior had 9.4 percent body fat. Or 15.792 lbs of fat.
By the end of the experiment his body fat was 15.3 percent. Or 29.223 lbs of fat.
So in reality he only gained 13.431 lbs of fat.
So that isn't so far off from the 11.914 lbs we would have expected him to gain.
Thus Prior must have also gained 9.569 lbs of muscle and bone density during that period. So we now know #3 - extra muscle / bone density - is the more accurate reason for the extra weight gain. (The increase in muscle / bone density also disproves #1, showing that he didn't cheat on his experimental diet.)
So what about that extra 1.517 lbs of fat?
Well, lets look at Prior's blood pressure. At the beginning of the experiment his blood pressure was 129/77. By the end of the experiment it had increased to 143/96. An increase of 16%.
Blood pressure and metabolism has an inverse effect. The person becomes resistant to insulin (diabetic); Insulin regulates the absorption of sugar, the storing of sugar as fat tissue and plays an important role in weight gain. An increase in blood pressure, a reduction in metabolism and a rise in resistance to insulin would result in extra weight gain.
For Prior this meant only a difference of 1.517 lbs of fat, but it is important we keep track of what was happening in his body.
Note - All the math calculations on this page are done by me, using a calculator and only the raw before and after data. I have not relied on George Prior's website for any of my calculations.
Yes, eating lots of sugary drinks (or sugary food) will cause you to gain a lot of weight in a hurry. That part is a no brainer. So if you are eating a lot during the upcoming Christmas Holiday Season and then weigh about 20 lbs more than usual by the time January comes around, now you will know why. All those snacks, cookies, wine, beer, chocolate, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc went straight to your waistline. The holiday season is amazingly effective at causing people to gain weight in a hurry.
Oddly enough not all of it will be fat. A chunk of it will also be muscle and bone density, but the added fat gain is going to be tricky to get rid of.
So Merry Christmas. You will need to go on a diet / exercise routine come January.
If you need a personal trainer in January, shoot me an email. We can start by measuring your weight, figure out how much you want to lose, and then we can determine what kind of diet and exercise program you will need to reach your desired weight.
In the meantime have a Happy Holidays and try to eat healthier this year!