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Is Diet Coke Bad For You?

Dr. Nosheen Abbas

5 min read

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Is diet coke bad for you, or is it actually healthier than regular coke? Keep reading to find out all you need to know with factual, research-backed information on the subject.

Beverages such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi are regularly consumed worldwide. Regular cold drinks are full of sugar. Consuming drinks with a high sugar content can result in obesity, diabetes, and many other health issues. However, almost all carbonated beverages have zero sugar versions, such as Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi, Sprite Zero, etc.

Many people prefer zero-calories soda as an alternative to normal ones to avoid sugar and decrease their calorie intake. These sodas may contain artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, and aspartame, to give them a sweet taste. They initially came into production for diabetes patients to curb their sweet cravings while maintaining their blood sugar levels.

Is Diet Coke Bad For You?

Manufacturers of diet sodas often claim that zero-calorie drinks are a “healthier” option for weight watchers and diabetics. On the other hand, the research suggests that such drinks may not be as healthy as one might think.

Diet Coke – Nutritional Facts

A 355-mL or 12-ounce serving of Diet Coke provides:

TypeAmount
Calories0
Total Fat0 grams
Total Carbohydrates0 grams
Total Sugars0 grams
Protein0 grams
Sodium40mg
Caffeine46mg
Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coke-zero-vs-diet-coke

The nutrition in diet coke is almost none. Switching diet coke with water or fruit-infused water may be a better option for your health. Drink zero-sugar soda in moderation, and you may not face any side effects, but if you consume diet soda more than twice a day, it can be harmful for your health. There are pros and cons to drinking diet or zero-sugar carbonated beverages which are explained below.

Pros of drinking diet coke

Diet coke may not be purely bad for your health. It has certain advantages which are listed below:

1. Reduces sugar consumption

Too much sugar can damage your body in many ways. Sugar can increase your appetite and has high calories, which are the top causes of obesity. Weight gain may make you feel physically unappealing and pose many dangers to your health, such as early aging, heart disease, etc.

Due to this reason, nutritionists recommend cutting down your sugar intake. Replacing sodas full of sugar with ones without sugar means you will take in less sugar. Cutting down or limiting sugar can save you from the numerous health issues that can occur due to the high sugar intake.

2. May help manage diabetes

As diet coke is free of sugar, it does not cause sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels and helps manage diabetes. Consuming low sugar and fewer carbohydrates is essential for diabetes management. Diet sodas contain only a few calories and are lower than 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving. It may also lessen the risk of obesity, which causes Type 2 diabetes. 

3. May curb sugar cravings

Artificial sweeteners make diet coke sweet and flavorful. It gives your brain the message that you are drinking something sweet without overloading your body with sugar. It may suppress your craving for other sugar-laden beverages and food items.

Despite the above, taking excess carbonated drinks can cause health issues. Consider both pros and cons of zero sodas, and then think of the quantity you want in your diet.

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Cons of drinking diet coke

The disadvantages of coke zero and other carbonated drinks with no sugar outweigh its benefits. Drinking it within a reasonable limit may not have any adverse effect, but consuming too much of it can have the following disadvantages.

1. No nutritional value

Diet coke has no nutrition to provide your body with nourishment of any kind. It only provides a sweet taste when you crave sugar. A can of diet coke contains zero protein, in addition to, no calories and sugar.

2. May damage bones

Diet coke contains phosphoric acid and caffeine, which can be damaging for your bones. It can decrease bone mineral density, raises the risk of osteoporosis, and weaken your bones. Studies suggest that people who consume more soda regularly are at higher risk of fractures, especially hip fractures in women. 

3. May lead to teeth erosion

Sugar can cause cavities, which is a solid reason for letting go of regular sodas. Both normal and diet sodas contain acids, such as citric acid and phosphorus acid. Due to its acidic content, it can cause damage the surface of tooth enamel, resulting in tooth erosion. Moreover, studies link soda consumption to poor oral hygiene and unhealthy eating habits.

4. May disturb gut health

Your gut health can majorly impact your overall health. Some studies suggest that diet sodas can negatively impact gut health by decreasing the number of good bacteria in your gut. Artificial sweeteners, such as acesulfame-K and saccharin, have been shown to cause imbalances in gut bacteria. A study on mice showed that acesulfame-K may negatively affect your gut microbiome, a beneficial bacteria for a healthy gut.

5. May disrupt heart health

Diet sodas may not affect your blood sugar level in the short run but may increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke in the long run. Research suggests a link between high blood pressure too. 

6. Possibly cause addiction

Is Diet coke or coke zero your go-to drink multiple times a day? It can be an addiction to diet soda. It contains caffeine, which can increase dopamine levels. It may send signals to your brain that it is satisfying and treat it as a reward. It can lead you to up your intake of diet sodas. Drinking too much soda can be harmful to your health. 

7. May cause depression

There is some evidence that connects depression with drinking coke zero. According to research, it is common for people who drink more soda every day. More research is required for conclusive evidence of the effects of zero-calories soft drinks on depression.

8. May affect kidney health

A study suggests that having more than seven cans of diet soda per week can increase your chances of getting kidney disease, according to Healthline. It contains phosphoric acid that may not be suitable for your kidneys. However, these studies have mixed results. There needs to be more research on how drinking diet sodas may be related to kidney health.

Due to a higher ratio of disadvantages to advantages, drinking diet soda may not be the most suitable for you. Still, more research is needed to gauge the effect of diet soda and artificial sweeteners on your body. 

Limiting diet soda intake

If you want to cut down your diet soda intake, you need to figure out what makes it so tempting for you. Change your attitude towards your lifestyle and opt for choices that do not have side effects on your body, especially if you have diabetes. 

It can be difficult to stop drinking diet soda as it contains caffeine, which may be slightly addictive. You can substitute it with tea or coffee without sugar to get your daily dose of caffeine. You can also opt for milk-free coffee or tea.

If you enjoy the fizz of these drinks, simple soda water may be a better choice. Those fond of its sweet taste can swap it with fruit smoothies or fresh fruit juices. Juices without added sugar may be a good choice for weight watchers. Other diet soda alternatives include sparkling water, coconut water, lemonade, etc.

If nothing is working, try to drink less diet soda. Try drinking more water or other beverages that may fill up your stomach and control your consumption of drinking sodas.

Drinking diet soda occasionally is not concerning, but drinking it every day in high quantities can have a detrimental effect on your health. 

Conclusion

Weight-conscious and diabetic patients may consume coke zero or diet coke to replace the sugary sodas. They do not contain sugar and carbohydrates, which makes them seem like a healthier option. These sugarless sodas contain artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and others, which may adversely affect your health. 

Low or zero-sugar-carbonated beverages have some positive abilities, such as limiting your sugar intake, but many studies suggest that they may not be an ideal option. Some research links it to the risk of heart disease, stroke, or other medical health conditions that may require you to consult a doctor.

If you drink too many zero-sugar drinks, it is better to quit. It can be tough. Try choosing healthier options that may not be as damaging or provide some nutritional value, such as green tea or fruit-infused water. Slowly wean off coke zero or other sugar-free alternatives by adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Nosheen Abbas
Dr. Nosheen Abbas - Author Dr. Nosheen Abbas is a Dietitian and Nutritionist. Dr. Nosheen Abbas is among the Best Dietitians in Islamabad. She has a MBBS, MSPH and SNHS Dip. (Holistic Nutrition) UK degree along with an experience of 13 years.
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