Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero: Flavor, Nutrition, Pros & Cons

Do the same things go into Coke Zero and Diet Coke, and do they taste the same? The results of our research might surprise you.

a huge fight between Coke Zero and Diet Coke. Since I was born in the 1980s, Diet Coke has been my favourite drink for decades. Sorry, Tab, but your pink cans were cool, but the soda inside was awful.

Diet Coke came out in the summer of 1982. At the time, it was light years ahead of any other low-calorie drink. For the first time, a diet Coke didn’t tell you with every sad sip that it was low-calorie. I can’t see Coca-Cola ever producing a different diet soda.

But then Coke Zero came out in 2005. Someone in the Coca-Cola lab tried to make a diet drink that tasted like a regular Coke. Did it work out? Is there a taste difference between these two drinks, or is Coke Zero just a cool name?

What Is Diet Coke?

Coca-Cola makes Diet Coke, which is a soft drink with no sugar and no calories. In 1982, it was first sold in the US under the brand name “Diet Coke.” As of 2019, Diet Coke can be bought in more than 110 different countries.

The drink is marketed as a healthier version of regular Coca-Cola. Diet Coke has no calories, no fat, and no salt.

What Is Coke Zero?

Coke Zero is a low-calorie soft drink made by the Coca-Cola Company. There are no calories, fat, or carbs in it. In 2005, the drink was sold for the first time as Coca-Cola Zero. As of 2010, it was sold in more than 90 countries.

The Coca-Cola Company has also made other kinds of Coke Zero, such as Coca-Cola Zero without caffeine and Diet Coke with Splenda.

Are Diet Coke and Coke Zero different?

Diet Coke and Coke Zero both don’t have any sugar or calories, and their ingredient lists are very similar. Both have carbonated water, caramel colour, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, aspartame, natural flavours, and caffeine.

There are also versions of both that don’t have caffeine; look for gold accents on the packaging.

Coke Zero has two things that Diet Coke doesn’t have: potassium citrate and acesulfame potassium. Diet Coke, on the other hand, has one thing that Coke Zero doesn’t have: citric acid.

Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero

Anna Wheeler, health and nutrition manager for Coca-Cola Great Britain, says that Coca-Cola Zero Sugar looks and tastes more like Coca-Cola Classic, while Diet Coke has a lighter taste because it is made with a different mix of flavours.

So, this is what the business leaders say. But do they have it right?

Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero taste test

In my head-to-head comparison, I cooled cans of Diet Coke and Coke Zero and drank them without ice.

When I drink Diet Coke, I think about how much has changed since the 1980s. I don’t think, “Ugh, sure, this is a diet Coke,” as my first thought.

It is smooth and tasty. I like it because it has a bit of fizz, goes well with food, and is refreshing on its own. Even though I’ve never thought it was a regular Coke, it’s still a great diet drink.

Last summer, Coke Zero changed its formula, and I didn’t feel bad about saying in my Coke Zero review that I didn’t like the new one. It was almost sour and had a spicy taste that older Coke Zero didn’t have.

And maybe it’s changed, or maybe I’ve changed, but I didn’t taste anything sour this time. Diet Coke was smoother and sweeter, but Coke Zero was even sweeter and bubblier.

You should go try the new Coca-Cola drink for 2022 right now if you haven’t already.

Nutrition facts and ingredients of Coke Zero and Diet Coke

Here are the ingredients and nutrition facts for both Coke Zero and Diet Coke. In this part, we’ll talk about some of the most important things that are different and the things that are the same.

Coke Zero nutrition facts

Coke Zero’s ingredients include:

  • carbonated water
  • caramel color
  • phosphoric acid
  • aspartame
  • potassium benzoate (to protect taste)
  • natural flavors
  • potassium citrate
  • acesulfame potassium
  • caffeine

Because it has the amino acid phenylalanine, people with phenylketonuria (PKU) should not eat it.

The following nutrients are in a 12-ounce (355-mL) serving of Coke Zero:

  • Calories: 0
  • Total fat: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 40 mg
  • Total carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Total sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Potassium: 60 mg
  • Caffeine: 34 mg

Artificial sweeteners are used instead of sugar to make Coke Zero taste sweet. It comes in different flavors, like cherry, cherry vanilla, orange vanilla, and vanilla. You can also get Coke Zero without caffeine.

Diet Coke nutrition facts

Diet Coke is made of the following:

  • carbonated water
  • caramel color
  • aspartame
  • phosphoric acid
  • potassium benzoate (to protect taste)
  • natural flavors
  • citric acid
  • caffeine

Like Coke Zero, Diet Coke has the amino acid phenylalanine in it, so people with PKU should stay away from it.

Diet Coke has the following nutrients in a 12-ounce (355-mL) serving:

  • Calories: 0
  • Total fat: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 40 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 0 grams
  • Total sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Caffeine: 46 mg

Artificial sweeteners are used instead of sugar to make Diet Coke taste sweet. Aspartame is in regular Diet Coke, but you can also get Diet Coke with Splenda, which is a form of sucralose.

Diet Coke tastes like ginger lime and feisty cherry, among other things. Diet Coke has a version that doesn’t have caffeine, just like Coke Zero.

Potential side effects

Most of the time, there aren’t many bad things that happen when you drink carbonated drinks in moderation.

On the other hand, caffeine and artificial sweeteners may be bad for some people, even in small amounts.

The US Department of Agriculture says that adults shouldn’t take in more than 400 mg of caffeine per day (USDA).

That’s about four cups of coffee or nine or eleven 12-ounce (355-mL) cans of Diet Coke or Coke Zero. So, if you drink these sodas in moderation, you won’t go over the limit (2 Trusted Source).

If you are sensitive to caffeine, you should limit how much of these drinks you drink. Besides that, they have a small amount of caffeine.

The American Migraine Foundation says that aspartame may cause headaches in some people.

This effect may be different for different people, but knowing ahead of time lets you connect the dots if you start getting headaches after drinking certain drinks (4).

Also, some studies have shown that aspartame may cause cancer, but other studies show that this is not true.

We need more long-term, high-quality human studies before we can say that aspartame causes cancer (5 Trusted Source, 6 Trusted Source).

If you are more concerned about food additives than others, you should avoid aspartame.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on the other hand, says that aspartame is safe (7 Trusted Source).

Acesulfame potassium, like aspartame, has been looked at in both older and more recent studies to see if it might cause cancer.

But the evidence is still not clear, and more long-term, high-quality human studies are needed (8 Trusted Source, 9 Trusted Source).

Key differences between Coke Zero and Diet Coke

The main selling point of these goods is that they don’t have sugar, so they are pretty much the same.

The difference between the two is the type of sweetener used and the amount of caffeine, but most people won’t care about either of these things.

Coke Zero has both aspartame and acesulfame potassium, which is sometimes called “Ace K” or “acesulfame K.” Diet Coke only has aspartame as a sweetener.

Acesulfame potassium is another sugar substitute that doesn’t raise blood sugar and doesn’t have any calories.

Aspartame is the main sweetener in Diet Coke, and since the ingredients are listed in order of weight, it makes sense to think that it has much less acesulfame potassium. This means that these drinks have a lot of the same ingredients (1 Trusted Source).

The amount of caffeine is another important difference. Diet Coke has more caffeine in it than Coca-Cola Zero. However, neither drink contains anywhere near the 400 mg of caffeine per day recommended for adults (2 Trusted Source).

One difference between these two drinks is their taste. Some people say they can’t tell the difference, while others swear that Diet Coke or Coke Zero is the closest thing to the “real thing.”

Which do we prefer?

The winner is Coke Zero. If a flight attendant or a vending machine gives me a choice, I’ll always choose Coke Zero.

I know cola drinkers who are still upset that Coke Zero was taken off the market last year, and I get it.

Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero

When I first looked at how the old and new versions of Coke Zero were made, I found that the old version was by far better. But I can’t change the past. We only have this Coke Zero right now, so I’ll raise a glass to that.

Tips for reducing diet soda intake

Since there are different opinions about artificial sweeteners, you may be wondering how to get your fizzy fix while using the least amount of artificial sweeteners.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Water that tastes good.Flavored waters that don’t have any calories can be tasty and good for you. Think of them as a healthy addition to your fridge or cooler.
  • Kombucha. Because of the fermentation process, this probiotic-rich beverage encourages healthy gut bacteria and is naturally bubbly. Most kombuchas have less sugar than regular sodas, but you should still check the labels to make sure you’re not getting too much added sugar.
  • Sodas with good bacteriaSome brands of probiotic “soda” are the same as kombucha. They are supposed to taste like soda, but they have a lot less sugar. Because they have probiotics, they have some of the same benefits as kombucha.
  • Sodas that have stevia in themSeveral types of carbonated drinks taste like popular sodas and don’t have any added sugar. Instead, they use sweeteners that come from plants, like stevia or monk fruit. They taste like soda, but they don’t have any sugar or sugar substitutes.
  • Sparkling water.Sparkling drinks might be the answer if you want fizz instead of sweetness. Even though they aren’t usually sweet, they have carbonation without sugar or other sweeteners.

The bottom line

Diet Coke and Coke Zero, which are made with artificial sweeteners, may seem like a good choice if you want to cut back on sugar.

Even though some of the artificial sweeteners in these two drinks have been linked to health problems, drinking them in moderation shouldn’t be a cause for concern, especially when compared to the negative effects of sugary drinks.

Coke Zero and Diet Coke have the same amount of calories and nutrients. Their tastes are very different.

If you want to cut back on added sugars and sweeteners that aren’t good for you, Kombucha or a probiotic soda might be good alternatives.

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