Uses of Coca-Cola During Endurance Exercise

Many new endurance athletes are confused about the consumption of Coca-Cola during training & racing. Many of us have been brought up to believe that Coca-Cola is a treat food and not really classified as nutrition for athletes. But it does have it’s place.

Benefits Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola contains amongst other things- carbonated water, phosphoric acid, sugar & caffeine. These ingredients are particularly useful to replenish carbohydrate stores, increase alertness and settle the stomach.

Some open water swimmers use Coca-Cola to prevent against harmful bacteria after swimming in less than optimal water quality. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the acidity level of Coca-Cola is beneficial in killing off harmful bacteria. In fact, the stomach has a higher level of acidity than Coca-Cola.

Considerations Coca-Cola

Due to Coca-Cola containing caffeine, it is important to only taking it in as a form of nutrition later in the race or if you will continue to use it until you are finished. Once the large amount of sugar and caffeine has left your bloodstream, you may experience a “low” and feel lethargic and fatigued.

You should also consider the amount of Coca-Cola you are taking in. One small bottle contains 30+ grams of sugar which could cause gastric distress when consumed all in one go. Sip alongside water or even add to your drink bottle to continue taking in on the bike/run.

Coca-Cola provides some variety in your training and racing nutrition plan. Most people prefer the taste & texture compared to other sports drinks.

Take Home Message

Use caution when including Coca-Cola in your training or racing nutrition plan. Ensure that it is practiced several times during training and in a variety of conditions. Be aware that it will cause a spike in blood sugar and caffeine which may be followed by a low. The carbonation in Coca-Cola may cause some gastric distress especially whilst running so consider re-carbonating before consumption.