Soda: To Drink or Not to Drink

Soda: To Drink or Not to Drink

Every running coach has told their track and cross country teams to avoid soda. Claims have been made that soda can ruin your season and cause you to be slower than you would if you abstained.


But are these claims legitimate? Is there science behind the “no soda” rule?


Turns out, there may not be as much evidence as we may have thought…


Overall Health

man and woman diagram of organs

Runners are likely concerned about their overall health since this affects cardiovascular endurance and a runner’s ability to perform their best. Several studies have shown that the consumption of soda is linked to kidney disease and kidney failure, which can indeed affect overall health.


“In the August 2010 edition of ‘Kidney International,’ it was stated that high-fructose corn syrup in soda may be to blame.  And according to the National Kidney Foundation, Phosphorus in cola and other dark-colored soda may worsen kidney disease.¹” But it is important to note that these studies are based off of patients that drink two or more sodas every single day…not someone who drinks the occasional soda with lunch.


Dehydration During Training

soda drinks

According to  Leslie Bonci, the director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the goal of any liquid before exercise is not to reside in your stomach while you run, it’s to leave your stomach to be able to hydrate your muscles. And soda does not do this!²


In fact, the carbonation and fake sugars in sodas can cause bloating and gas…which is awfully uncomfortable when you’re running.


It is known that staying hydrated will increase cardiovascular endurance, which is why “the ADA suggests drinking water before, during and after moderate activity of 60 minutes or less and consuming sports drinks for moderate- to high-intensity exercise that lasts longer than an hour.”¹




Can Soda Affect Overall Wellness, and in Turn Affect Cardiovascular Endurance? Yes.

Studies have shown that regular soda drinkers are at a higher risk for kidney disease. However, these are REGULAR soda drinkers, not those that have the occasional can.


Does Soda Affect Hydration? Yes.

The purpose of pre-workout drinks is to quickly go from the stomach to the muscles to hydrate them properly, and soda simply does not do this. Soda instead sits in the stomach and causes bloating and gas. However, this is only the case when a soda is drunk right before beginning a workout.


Should Runners Stay Away From Soda? If they want to…..

There is no scientific evidence that the occasional soda (away from workout times) will cause any issues with cardiovascular endurance. Runners should however, abstain from drinking large amounts of soda regularly, and from drinking soda close to a run or workout.