Nutritional Facts for Coke Zero


Anything that has almost no nutritional value (that isn’t water) freaks me out because I know what went into getting those numbers down to zero.

For a while, I worked as a process improvement project manager in the roofing industry.   I learned that:
1. The standards agencies of America (FDA, UL, ANSI, etc) have decided what will tested and published about a product (calories, ingredient list, weight, etc.). 
2. Customers decide what we want by what we can see and compare.  
3. Manufacturers will do anything in their power to make what the customer wants.

If it isn't anything, what is it?

So, in this creepy triangle of information, manufacturers find out how do the tests and then change their product so that the test results come out the way they want.  There is absolutely nothing illegal about any of this.   Usually it is good.  They improve their products to exceed the test results of their competition.  Yay Capitalism!

For example, I assume that the Coke Executives decided that they wanted a drink that had no calories but was not water (they already sell that).  Americans love to eat and drink but they hate calories.  Same goes for fat.   Hate it.  So, they launched their chemists and process improvement managers at that goal: “Make something that tastes just like Coke but has no calories.  Big bonus for you if it has no fat or carbs either.”  So, the nerds retreated to the back rooms with lofty goals and lab coats.  Later they emerged from the darkness wielding something that had “Real Coke taste with zero calories (as determined by the current FDA test of caloric content)” and did not kill more than 30% of the mammalian lab animals.  
“Dave drank it and he seems OK.”
Hurray!  Bonuses abound.  

THIS FREAKS ME OUT!! What did they put in it?

Carbonated Water, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Aspartame, Potassium Benzoate (To Protect Taste),Natural Flavors, Potassium Citrate, Acesulfame Potassium, Caffeine.

Oh.   What is that? 
• Why does the taste need a body guard?  
• What are the ingredients in “color”?   Color comes from stuff.  It is not a state of mind or zen power.  Color is stuff.  It has content and results other than brownness.  There is a red dye out there that makes some children absolutely loose their minds if they drink it.  I have witnessed this (two fold) myself.
• Is there a big vat of goo labeled “NATURAL FAVORS” that the umpa loompas pour into the Coke cooking cauldron?  Listing natural flavors as an ingredient seems to be their way of saying “Some other stuff ”.
• Aspartame.  Listing another product as an ingredient is like saying that Coke is made of “Coke Ingredients”.  Not helpful.

Hundreds of thousands of people drink a lot of this stuff every day.  Gallons in some cases.  They fly planes, drive bulldozers, teach children, make explosives.   What is it doing to them?  What will they do to us if they are all hopped up on Natural Flavors and Carmel Color?

Calories are natural.  It is the whole point of eating.  If it doesn’t have any calories, sugar, carbs or fat, what is it?

This is not limited to Coke Zero.  Eliminating one factor of a food is not as easy as just telling the workers to not add it anymore.  If the fat/sugar/calories came out, what went in?  Often times, fat is replaced with sugar.  Unfortunately, our body turns sugar right back into fat.  But if it is “sugar free”, what is in it?  I hear antifreeze tastes sweet.

The root cause of the problem is actually a by-product of our own success:  American’s don’t need the nutrition.  We easily can get the nutrition we need so we choose to eat and drink stuff strictly for the taste (and caffeine).  But, this may have gone to far.  Everything is being designed for taste and not nutrition.  Hence the obesity epidemic; 2 out of 3 Americans are either Over Weight or Obese.  Imagine if 2 out of 3 Americans were sick with the same illness.  It would be an outright panic.  Not the case for fatness.

My professional advice: 
Drink/Eat for taste and fuel.  
• If it tastes good but has no nutritional benefit, don’t eat it.
• If it has lots of good benefits but tastes terrible, don’t make yourself eat it.

Also, drink and eat as few things as possible that have to list “natural flavors” as an ingredient.  

Here for your Health,

Zach Guza
Black Dog Fitness