Ingredients in Diet Sodas
Diet sodas are commonly marketed to people with diabetes, people wanting to cut back on sugar and people reducing their calories in an effort to lose weight. Diet sodas contain many of the same ingredients as regular sodas, with the primary differences being the ingredients used to sweeten the beverages and certain preservatives. Diet sodas typically contain fewer calories than regular soda. Manufacturers often use low-calorie or zero-calorie sweeteners to keep the calorie content on the low end.
Sucralose, acesulfame K and aspartame are three artificial sweeteners commonly found in diet sodas. Sucralose is a zero-calorie sweetener that is 600 times sweeter than sugar and aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Acesulfame K is about 150 to 200 times sweeter than sugar and is typically found in combination with aspartame or other artificial sweeteners because it acts to enhance and sustain the flavor of sweet foods.
The Side Effects of Drinking Diet Coke
Diet sodas typically contain caffeine in amounts comparable to that of regular sodas. For example, diet Mountain Dew, Diet Coke, Diet RC and Diet Pepsi contain 55, 45, 43 and 36 milligrams of caffeine respectively. These amounts are the same as, or very similar to, the regular versions. Caffeine is considered safe in moderate amounts of 100 to 200 milligrams per day, although tolerance varies from person to person.
- Diet sodas typically contain caffeine in amounts comparable to that of regular sodas.
- Caffeine is considered safe in moderate amounts of 100 to 200 milligrams per day, although tolerance varies from person to person.
Many sodas, including diet soda, contain phosphoric acid, which is a mineral acid composed of phosphorus. Phosphoric acid gives soda its acidity and tart, sharp flavor. In fact, almost all of the acidity in soda comes from phosphoric acid, according to Frostburg State University. Phosphoric acid is corrosive and drinking sodas regularly has long been linked to an increased risk of dental erosion. However, the acid concentration in the typical soda is lower than that of orange juice or lemonade, according to FSU.
- Many sodas, including diet soda, contain phosphoric acid, which is a mineral acid composed of phosphorus.
- In fact, almost all of the acidity in soda comes from phosphoric acid, according to Frostburg State University.
Preservatives and Artificial Colorings
Foods Containing Sucralose
Diet sodas typically contain the preservative potassium benzoate, which is primarily used to preserve the freshness of diet foods. Manufacturers add it to diet soda to prevent mold from growing while the soda is on store shelves. Like regular soda, diet soda often contains artificial dyes, which add color to the beverage. The Food and Drug Administration has approved nine artificial colors in the U.S. Before food additives such as artificial colors are approved, the FDA evaluates them to ensure they are safe for human consumption.
- Diet sodas typically contain the preservative potassium benzoate, which is primarily used to preserve the freshness of diet foods.
- The Food and Drug Administration has approved nine artificial colors in the U.S. Before food additives such as artificial colors are approved, the FDA evaluates them to ensure they are safe for human consumption.
The Side Effects of Drinking Diet Coke
Foods Containing Sucralose
Diet Rite Cola Ingredients
How Much Sugar Is Common in Soft Drinks and Gatorade?
Cholesterol & Diet Soda
XS Energy Drink Facts
How Much Caffeine Is in Diet Sunkist?
Congestive Heart Failure & Caffeine
Club Soda Nutrition
Caffeine in Slim-Fast
- Elmhurst College: Sucralose or Splenda
- Elmhurst College: Acesulfame K
- The Sugar Association: Artificial Sweeteners
- University of Utah: Caffeine Content of Popular Drinks
- Frostburg State University: Why Is Phosphoric Acid in Soda Pop
- The Nutrition Bible; Jean Anderson and Barbara Deskins
- U.S Food and Drug Administration: Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives & Colors
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Caffeine and Your Body
- Laura Helm, Ian A. Macdonald, Impact of beverage intake on metabolic and cardiovascular health, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 73, Issue suppl_2, 1 September 2015, Pages 120–129, https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuv049
- Jiantao Ma, Caroline S. Fox, Paul F. Jacques, Elizabeth K. Speliotes, Udo Hoffmann, Caren E. Smith, Edward Saltzman, Nicola M. McKeown,Sugar-sweetened beverage, diet soda, and fatty liver disease in the Framingham Heart Study cohorts. Journal of Hepatology 63;2(2015). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2015.03.032.
- Tooth. American Dental Association. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tooth.
- Coca-Cola Bottle, 12 fl oz. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published February 27, 2020.
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- How much sugar is too much? American Heart Association.
- Freeman CR, Zehra A, Ramirez V, Wiers CE, Volkow ND, Wang GJ. Impact of sugar on the body, brain, and behavior. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2018;23:2255-2266. Published 2018 Jun 1.
- Pasiakos SM, McLellan TM, Lieberman HR. The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review. Sports Med. 2015;45(1):111-131. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0242-2
- Blom WA, Lluch A, Stafleu A, et al. Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(2):211-220. doi:10.1093/ajcn/83.2.211
- Tipton KD. Nutritional Support for Exercise-Induced Injuries. Sports Med. 2015;45 Suppl 1:S93-S104. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0398-4
- Kerstetter JE, Kenny AM, Insogna KL. Dietary protein and skeletal health: a review of recent human research. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2011;22(1):16-20. doi:10.1097/MOL.0b013e3283419441
- Paddon-Jones D, Short KR, Campbell WW, Volpi E, Wolfe RR. Role of dietary protein in the sarcopenia of aging. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1562S-1566S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1562S. PMID: 18469288.
- Maughan RJ, Griffin J. Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2003 Dec;16(6):411-20. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-277x.2003.00477.x. PMID: 19774754.
- Lete I, Allué J. The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Integr Med Insights. 2016;11:11-17. Published 2016 Mar 31. doi:10.4137/IMI.S36273
- Laura Helm, Ian A. Macdonald, Impact of beverage intake on metabolic and cardiovascular health, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 73, Issue suppl_2, 1 September 2015, Pages 120–129,
- Ma J, Jacques PF, Meigs JB, et al. Sugar-Sweetened Beverage but Not Diet Soda Consumption Is Positively Associated with Progression of Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes. J Nutr. 2016;146(12):2544-2550. doi:10.3945/jn.116.234047
- Rippe JM, Angelopoulos TJ. Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding. Nutrients. 2016;8(11):697. Published 2016 Nov 4. doi:10.3390/nu8110697
- Bucher Della Torre S, Keller A, Laure Depeyre J, Kruseman M. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Obesity Risk in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Analysis on How Methodological Quality May Influence Conclusions. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116(4):638-659. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.05.020
- Bray GA, Nielsen SJ, Popkin BM. Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity [published correction appears in Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Oct;80(4):1090]. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79(4):537-543. doi:10.1093/ajcn/79.4.537
- Vartanian LR, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Public Health. 2007;97(4):667-675. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2005.083782
- Pollock NK, Bundy V, Kanto W, et al. Greater fructose consumption is associated with cardiometabolic risk markers and visceral adiposity in adolescents [published correction appears in J Nutr. 2013 Jan;143(1):123]. J Nutr. 2012;142(2):251-257. doi:10.3945/jn.111.150219
- Elffers TW, de Mutsert R, Lamb HJ, et al. Body fat distribution, in particular visceral fat, is associated with cardiometabolic risk factors in obese women. PLoS One. 2017;12(9):e0185403. Published 2017 Sep 28. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0185403
- Yudkin J. Sugar and ischaemic heart disease. Practitioner. 1967;198(187):680-683.
- Liu S, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, et al. A prospective study of dietary glycemic load, carbohydrate intake, and risk of coronary heart disease in US women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(6):1455-1461. doi:10.1093/ajcn/71.6.1455
- Cohen L, Curhan G, Forman J. Association of sweetened beverage intake with incident hypertension. J Gen Intern Med. 2012;27(9):1127-1134. doi:10.1007/s11606-012-2069-6
- Welsh JA, Sharma A, Cunningham SA, Vos MB. Consumption of added sugars and indicators of cardiovascular disease risk among US adolescents. Circulation. 2011;123(3):249-257. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.972166
- Assy N, Nasser G, Kamayse I, et al. Soft drink consumption linked with fatty liver in the absence of traditional risk factors. Can J Gastroenterol. 2008;22(10):811-816. doi:10.1155/2008/810961
- Jiantao Ma, Caroline S. Fox, Paul F. Jacques, Elizabeth K. Speliotes, Udo Hoffmann, Caren E. Smith, Edward Saltzman, Nicola M. McKeown,Sugar-sweetened beverage, diet soda, and fatty liver disease in the Framingham Heart Study cohorts. Journal of Hepatology 63;2(2015).
- Avena NM, Bocarsly ME, Hoebel BG. Animal models of sugar and fat bingeing: relationship to food addiction and increased body weight. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;829:351-365. doi:10.1007/978-1-61779-458-2_23
- Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.019
- Choi HK, Willett W, Curhan G. Fructose-rich beverages and risk of gout in women. JAMA. 2010;304(20):2270-2278. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1638
- Choi HK, Curhan G. Soft drinks, fructose consumption, and the risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2008;336(7639):309-312. doi:10.1136/bmj.39449.819271.BE
- Jamnik J, Rehman S, Blanco Mejia S, et al. Fructose intake and risk of gout and hyperuricemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ Open. 2016;6(10):e013191. Published 2016 Oct 3. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013191
- Tooth. American Dental Association.
- Cheng R, Yang H, Shao MY, Hu T, Zhou XD. Dental erosion and severe tooth decay related to soft drinks: a case report and literature review. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2009;10(5):395-399. doi:10.1631/jzus.B0820245
- Hanover LM, White JS. Manufacturing, composition, and applications of fructose. Am J Clin Nutr. 1993;58(5 Suppl):724S-732S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/58.5.724S
- Meghan B. Azad, Ahmed M. Abou-Setta, Bhupendrasinh F. Chauhan, et al. Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. CMAJ Jul 2017, 189 (28) E929-E939; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.161390
- Fowler, S.P., Williams, K., Resendez, R.G., Hunt, K.J., Hazuda, H.P. and Stern, M.P. (2008), Fueling the Obesity Epidemic? Artificially Sweetened Beverage Use and Long‐term Weight Gain. Obesity, 16: 1894-1900. doi:10.1038/oby.2008.284
- Fowler SP, Williams K, Hazuda HP. Diet soda intake is associated with long-term increases in waist circumference in a biethnic cohort of older adults: the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015;63(4):708-715. doi:10.1111/jgs.13376
Barbara Froek is a dietitian and fitness trainer who holds a Bachelor of exercise and nutrition sciences as well as a Master of dietetics, food and nutrition. She has served as a contributing writer for various diet and fitness magazines including "Flex," "Muscular Development" and "Muscle & Fitness Hers."