By Christina Major  |  21 February 2021   

You know the guys who drink soda after soda. And we know you've heard you should be drinking water and not soda. So, what is the big deal? Why is it okay for some to drink soda and not others?

Soda truly is not healthy for you. Some top athletes, such as Tyson Fury, actively reject drinking soda because it physically slows you down. He changed his diet recently to prepare for his fight against Deontay Wilder. Fury said this of his current diet: “I’m doing a lot of things I didn’t before. I’m eating five or six meals a day, drinking eight litres of water. If it’s gonna give me an edge, I’m willing to try it.”

During Fury’s bouts with addiction, he took to unhealthy foods, where soda was part of the hidden addiction. Some studies show sugars, especially from processed foods like soda and junk foods, is more addictive than heroine. Fury’s ‘dirty keto’ diet forbids soda and focuses on healthy foods.

Let's take a look at what's going on here.

How Excess Sugar In Soda Slows You Down

The second most abundant ingredient in soda is sugar (The number one is water). There is more sugar in one serving of soda, which is only about 8 oz than what you need in a whole day—drinking one of those oversized bottles or movie cup-sized-fountain drinks can give you quite the sugar rush. And it's precisely this rush that can do you in.

Soda Slows Punches | Fighting Arts Health Labq

Sugar is used primarily for energy, but if you have too much sugar in your system, it can clog things up. The main problem comes from having excess sugars in your system. Over time, these excess sugars damage the myelin sheath that surrounded the nerves. The myelin sheath is what protects the nerves from excessive impulses, misinterpreting pain, and preserving memories.

When the myelin sheath gets damaged, conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, muscle spasms, forgetfulness, and dementia can occur.

This means that the sugar attacks the nerves destroys their protection, and inhibits their ability to send signals. Since most fight decisions need to be made in less than a quarter of a second, slowing down the nerve impulse can put you behind everyone else.

Excess Sugar from Soda Reduces Performance

A secondary effect of too much sugar in your system is the glycogen stored in your muscles. The body stores some excess sugar in your muscles for quick energy when you're exercising and fighting. The sugars are interwoven between the muscle fibers. If there's too much sugar, your muscles become bloated and sore, preventing proper stretching and robbing you of power.

If you're ever looking for an excellent reason to choose keto, the excess sugars slowing your punches might just be the one you are looking for.

But don't think diet is the answer. Diet sodas are even worse for you. Aspartame is a neurological inhibitor, slowing down your thoughts and reflexes. Saccharin and sucralose are hepatotoxins, slowly eating away at your liver's ability to filter out toxins and causing liver failure.

There is no artificial sugar that is healthy for you. Stevia, while natural, is not widely used in beverages because it can impart a metallic taste. However, ingesting too much stevia can cause digestive problems.

The Acids In Soda Create Muscle Fatigue

The next most abundant ingredient in soda is acid, usually phosphoric acid. In small quantities, the body can easily handle this acid and can be neutralized without any issue. However, in large amounts, like when you drink soda, it doesn't work that way. Your body just can't neutralize the acid.

There are several minor issues here. First, drinking a lot of soda, especially with meals, inhibits your body's natural production of stomach acids; you confuse your body, causing it to underproduce acid regularly. This can lead to indigestion and reflux.

Soda Causes Muscle Fatigue

Then, the body has to neutralize that acid in the intestine. The body is very good at neutralizing regular stomach acid, but phosphoric acid is different. It requires a different set of buffers, drawing out calcium and magnesium from your body, particularly your bones. Over time, this makes your bones weak.

Because of the lack of calcium and magnesium in your blood, your muscles don't get enough of the proper nutrients to contract appropriately. Both calcium and magnesium are required in high concentrations in the muscles to have fast reflexes, snappy muscle contractions, and clear out the lactic acid from rapid use.

The calcium and magnesium's buffering actions get pulled from your bones, making them brittle and weak. Drinking soda robs your body of that calcium and magnesium, leaving you slow and weak.

Other Stuff In Soda That Hurts You

Soda is packed with other things like artificial flavorings, colors, and other junk. These are all chemical-based, and most of them are known carcinogens. For example, the dark black color of soda is created with caramel coloring, a chemical well-known as a carcinogen.

Most artificial colors and flavors have to be processed through the liver, further damaging it. Not to mention that most of the artificial flavorings and colors contribute to mental disruptions and are well known to increase ADHD symptoms.

There's no redeeming quality to soda. Most people that give up soda find they lose their taste for it after just a couple of weeks. It becomes the disgusting mix of acid and chemicals that it truly is.

Alternatives You Can Use Now

  • Grab a Glass! Need strategies and tactics on getting more H2o in you? Read our “Importance of Post Workout Hydration” article. You’ll discover why you should drink water, including reducing bruising, increased muscle density, and avoiding the risk of death that other combat athletes face.
  • Consider Yourself a Mixologist? Want to make your own hydration mixture. Our "Importance of Post Workout Hydration" article also has tips and tricks on ramping up your water intake without adding dangerous chemical flavors. 
  • Too Busy to Make Your Own? Buy Nuun Sport Electrolyte Tablets, they have no artificial flavoring or sweeteners, keto-friendly and are designed with Complete Electrolytes and Non-GMO ingredients for clean, guilt-free hydration.

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About the author

Christina Major is a Holistic Nutritionist, Naturopath, and herbalist. She owns Crystal Holistic Health, a nutritional consulting and writing business specializing in complementary and alternative medicine. She has over a decade of helping people find health, lose weight, and get off medications. Christina has practiced martial arts for 18 years. Staring with an eclectic group in college, she practiced Tang Soo Do and Tai Kwan Do for three years after graduation. After moving to Central PA, she began studying Taijutsu where she obtained a 2nd-degree black belt and studied the art directly under the Soke and top Shihan in Japan. She met her husband, a 5th-degree in class, where they enjoy giving each other bruises and kisses.

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