A question was recently asked to a group I was with:
Do athletes drink soda or Coca-Cola?
So, do athletes drink soda? While the average non-athlete would quickly answer that question with a “no” because it’s an unhealthy drink loaded with artificial ingredients, additives and sugar, my answer was “yes”. There are a lot of athletes, at all levels of competition, that drink soda either as a treat during their down time or during competition.
The person who asked the question (someone who had his 15 minutes of fame on TV at some time) was trying to prove a point to us. I forget what his point was, but it was quite obvious that he was not an athlete and hadn’t done a basic Google search of the question.
He also didn’t win over my admiration of his success when he said Ironman was not a sport and that triathletes are freaks…um, WHAT?!?!
Yeah, that got me pretty peeved and I was trying really hard to hold back what I really wanted to say to him.
But what the question of “do athletes drink soda?” really comes down to is that there’s a misconception in the general public that athletes only eat the most healthy of foods with absolutely no exception.
They would be shocked to see Coke at the aid stations of an Ironman, or gummy bears and M&Ms at a trail race.
They would be surprised by how many of us, including a certain Olympic gold medal winner, love to eat chocolate and desserts!
I certainly don’t advise anyone to drink soda on a regular basis. And anyone who knows me knows I love good food and am passionate about eating only organic food in order to stay away from pesticides, GMOs, and artificial ingredients (all natural cookies for me, please!).
And I think it’s common knowledge now that soda is not good for our health. There are plenty of things we either shouldn’t eat or should limit in our diets, but that doesn’t always stop us. We are human after all and I respect a person’s choices in their life. While one person may prefer to stick with Gatorade, another will prefer Skratch Labs. The important thing is to make informed decisions.
Anyone who’s done an Ironman knows the run aid stations have soda available to athletes. This can be beneficial for athletes in the later stages of the run. The caffeine and high carb content in soda has helped athletes in long endurance events. And triathletes aren’t the only ones who drink soda during a race! Check out this NY Times articles about who else uses Coke.
I don’t suggest everyone use Coke during a race, but it could be beneficial for some people to get through either the later stages of the run of an Ironman or through an Ultra run.
If you decide to use Coke during a race, follow these guidelines:
- As always, remember to never do anything new on race day. You’ll want to try Coke or other soda in training first so you know how you tolerate it.
- Wait to start using Coke later in the run.
- There are very little electrolytes in soda, so make sure you keep up your electrolyte intake.
- Once you start using Coke, do not stop. You will have a sugar crash coming off of it.
Have you ever used Coca-Cola or other soda in competition? What’s your preferred nutrition in Ironman races or Ultra runs?
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