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We don’t worry too much about Diet Coke. It tastes good, it has no calories and it’s generally harmless. Besides, when the rest of your diet gets such scrutiny, sometimes it’s nice to have one thing that may not be the best for your body, but still passes muster. However, as with all things, it would appear that drinking excessive amounts of soda can lead to very bad things . . . as in loss of strength.
Here’s what we know. A study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice reviewed cases in which extreme cola consumption (between three and 10 liters per day) resulted in effects ranging from muscle weakness to muscle paralysis. The common factor was a condition called hypokalemia, or low potassium levels, and when the subjects reduced their soda intake, they reversed all symptoms.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure what ingredient in soda caused the hypokalemia, but they proposed a couple of theories. One was the high fructose content, a result of regular sodas being sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. The other was the high caffeine content in soda. Given the fact that caffeine has been shown to increase muscle strength and that the amount of caffeine in three liters of regular Coke is less than what we recommend you supplement with before workouts, our money’s on either fructose or some other unknown factor as the culprit.
Regardless of the cause, it’s yet another reminder not to overdo it. We don’t drink regular Coke very often (although we know a few people who use the high-calorie, sugary drink as a mass-gain tool in the offseason), but we’re going to stick to our occasional 20-ounce bottle or two of Diet Coke per day, and enjoy the flavor anxiety free.