'Drink water': The science behind Ronaldo's cola snub

Coca-Cola's market value dropped €3.2bn after Cristiano Ronaldo moved the sugary drink aside for water yesterday. Is it the decision we should all be making?
'Drink water': The science behind Ronaldo's cola snub

Some studies report that soccer players can lose up to 3.5 litres of fluid while playing a match. Picture: iStock

Top athlete Cristiano Ronaldo is renowned for his strict approach to fitness. It was no surprise then when the legendary soccer player made headlines after revealing one of his healthy habits loud and clear at a Euro 2020 press conference yesterday: choosing water over soft drinks.

While nutritionists were probably delighted to see the Portugal captain pushing aside two bottles of Coca-Cola for water, investors were less than thrilled, after the company’s market value fell more than €3.2b.

Media commentators are pointing to Ronaldo’s gesture of holding up the bottle of water and saying “agua" to the cameras as a reason for the 1.6% dip in share price for Coca-Cola, a Euro 2020 sponsor.

It didn’t seem to matter much to one of the tournament’s leading stars, however. The 36-year-old is well known for trying to avoid sugar in his diet and, yesterday, he simply decided his body needed water - for good reason.

Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, which is essential for a long list of bodily functions like organ support, aiding digestion, controlling body temperature, heart rate, and keeping blood pressure level, to name a few. Not drinking enough of it can also lead to fatigue, headaches, sour mood, dehydration, and heatstroke.

Some studies report that soccer players can lose up to 3.5 litres of fluid while playing a match. For an average person, around one litre is lost for every hour of exercise.

According to the Institute of Medicine in the US, the adequate fluid intake for adults is around 2.7 litres per day for women, 3.7 litres for men, and more if you'll be sweating due to heat or activity. But do fizzy drinks count toward hydration?

Last year, Harvard Medical School wrote that all beverages containing water contribute toward daily hydration needs - and a bottle of Coca-Cola is made up of about 89% water.

While there isn’t specific research into whether or not the ingredients in fizzy drinks are addictive, there is backing to show just how difficult it is to quit sugar and caffeine.

"The sugar in the drinks ... swish through the brain, you get the dopamine rewarding you, and then the effect of the dopamine surge is gone almost as fast as it arrived, leaving your brain wanting more," Dr Gary Wenk told CNN Health last year.

"Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychostimulants in the world ... and it does have an addictive property. We're getting the sugar high combined with caffeine, and that is quite a good feeling that might cause you to consume more the next day or another time."

One Melbourne man has even found online fame from trying to cut his fizzy drink habit. Financial planning assistant Rohit Roy, 42, has amassed more than 242k followers on Tiktok by documenting his year without soft drinks, leading him to quit the habit for good and become a Weightwatchers ambassador.

“I feel like a completely different person now,” he told followers. “My life is full of positive physical and mental activities and I’m enjoying every moment of it.” 

Might Ronaldo’s snub and Tiktok’s influence change the soft-drink market forever? Like Coca-Cola said in a statement following yesterday’s events, "everyone is entitled to their drink preferences". 

But with 300m Instagram followers and one of the most recognisable names in the world, Ronaldo’s preference might just be the most important - and the healthier option for us all.

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