When you pick up a bottle or can of diet coke and compare it to the new coke zero sugar (formally known as coke zero), they appear to be identical at first glance. This is because they both share very similar ingredients, as both contain sodium, carbonated water, phenylalanine (an amino acid), caramel coloring, phosphoric acid (create that tangy flavor you love), aspartame (sweetener), caffeine, natural flavoring, and potassium benzoate (food preservative). In addition to this, both have zero calories and both contain no natural sugar. This does not mean though that they are basically the same drink, as there are some slight variations in the ingredient list that makes them different.
There Are Slight Variations in the Ingredient List
Generally speaking, ingredient lists will list from highest concentration to lowest concentration. In Coke Zero Sugar, the phosphoric acid comes listed before it does in Diet Coke, telling us that there is more of it in Coke Zero Sugar. Beyond this, Coke Zero Sugar also contains less sodium, coming in at 25mg in a 12-ounce serving compared to the 40mg you will find in Diet Coke. When it comes to the caffeine amount, Diet Coke has 46mg, whereas, Coke Zero Sugar has only 34mg listed.
The major difference you will find within the ingredient list though is the fact that Diet Coke has citric acid listed, while Coke Zero Sugar names Potassium citrate and acesulfame potassium instead. Both citric acid and potassium citrate help stabilize the acidity of the drink.
Which Artificial Sweetener Is Better?
One of the other common differences between the two are the artificial sweeteners that are used. In Coke Zero Sugar, you will find a combination of both aspartame and acesulfame K. Diet Coke, on the other hand, only has aspartame used. While aspartame has been well-researched, acesulfame K is not well known despite being discovered back in 1967. Both ACE-K and aspartame are safe for human consumption, however, there has been some evidence to suggest that they can interfere with appetite and therefore, may lead to weight gains and an inability to regulate blood sugar levels. There are also some worries around the consumption of ACE-K in women who are pregnant, as it is a known carcinogen and there is not enough evidence behind the long-term effects of the sweetener on fetus development during pregnancy.
The Bottom Line: Are Either Bad For You and Should You Switch From One to Another?
When consumed in moderation, the likely answer is no, neither are bad for you. Both are likely a better choice for individuals who are looking to scale back their sugar consumption, and making the switch to either of these from regular Coca-Cola is not a bad idea. Regardless of whether you regularly consume Coke Zero Sugar or Diet Coke, you do not have to make the shift from one to the other. The only reason you would do this is if you had true concerns over your consumption of aspartame or acesulfame K. Women who are pregnant, may want to only consume aspartame and so should stick with Diet Coke, whereas, those who already consume a lot of aspartame from other sources, may want to stick with Coke Zero Sugar.