Nutrition

Can You Drink Diet Soda on Keto?

Can You Drink Diet Soda on Keto?

Anyone who has made a habit of drinking Diet Coke and thinks of going keto would probably ask, “Is diet soda on keto allowed?” It’s no secret that diet soda is a favorite beverage among people who want to avoid sugar and calories to achieve weight loss.

However, from a nutritional standpoint, diet soda sparks controversy. It contains artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose, which could damage your health [1].

Let’s recall that a well-formulated ketogenic diet isn’t just about meeting your macros. It makes sure that you get micronutrients from high-quality foods.

In this article, we discuss everything you should know about diet soda while pursuing a ketogenic lifestyle.


What Is Diet Soda?

Diet soda combines carbonated water, artificial sweeteners, caramel color, natural flavors, phosphoric acid, caffeine, and preservatives. Let’s explore each ingredient in detail:

  • Carbonated water - It’s the kind of water that’s infused with carbon dioxide. It’s sometimes called sparkling water or fizzy water. People who dislike plain water may go for carbonated water because it’s more refreshing.
  • Artificial sweeteners - Aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and acesulfame K may be zero-calorie sweeteners, but they’re at least 100 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Caramel color - This is a coloring agent that’s responsible for the brown color of diet soda. A review on food caramels revealed that caramel color does not pose a genotoxic hazard to humans. Meaning, it does not cause cancer [2].
  • Natural flavorings- The US Food and Drug Administration defines natural flavoring as an extractive or any product that contains flavor derived from fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, or a similar material. Its function is only to provide flavor [3].
  • Phosphoric acid - Phosphoric acid is found in the bubbles of diet soda, and it affects bone health. A study revealed a diet that’s high in phosphoric acid lowers bone mineral density since phosphoric acid drains calcium out of the bone [4].
  • Caffeine -While caffeine is a widely accepted psychoactive substance, one should not consume it in excess amounts. High doses, above 400 mg, can cause anxiety, jitteriness, and nervousness [5].
  • Preservatives -Common preservatives found in diet soda include potassium benzoate and potassium sorbate. These chemical additives stop the growth of mold and fungi, preventing food spoilage.

Can I Drink Diet Soda While on Keto?

Let’s take a look at the nutritional facts of Diet Coke:

  • 0 calories
  • 0g carbohydrates
  • 0g sugars
  • 0g protein

Because the ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet, technically speaking, diet soda is allowed.

Drinking diet soda instead of regular soda reduces your carbohydrate consumption if you want a sweet beverage. Similar to drinking alcohol on keto, an occasional indulgence in the right amounts is fine.

However, diet soda when consumed regularly will not support a healthy lifestyle. If you take a look at the ingredients, they do not have real nutrients and may be linked to certain health problems.


Cold-soda-iced-drink-in-a-glasses

Benefits of Diet Soda on Keto

Here’s a fun fact: The first sugar-free soft drink called “No-Cal” was created in 1952 by Hyman Kirsch. He wanted it for diabetic patients. Now, here are some advantages of including an occasional diet soda in your keto diet:

1. Contains zero carbs

On a keto diet, your carbohydrate consumption should be limited to 20 to 50g per day [6]. Eating or drinking fewer carbs helps with weight loss since your blood sugar no longer cycles up and down.

2. Satisfies your sweet tooth

If you’re craving for something sweet but hate to pack on the pounds, allowing yourself a can once in a while helps.

3. Has zero calories

Achieving weight loss requires that you burn more calories than you eat. To lose one pound of body weight, you need a calorie deficit of 3500 kcal. In a day, you should take away 500 kcal [7]. Obviously, drinking diet soda is not the only way to create a calorie deficit. Other ways to do that is by exercising and eating healthy foods that fill you up.


Diet Soda Drawbacks

1. Increases the risk of metabolic syndrome

One researched revealed that diet soda consumption was associated with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

In case you don’t know what metabolic syndrome is, it’s a collection of health issues which include high blood pressure, increased belly fat, increased risk for heart disease, and diabetes.

The research explained that artificial sweeteners may increase your desire for sweeter and more energy-dense foods. More research is also needed to understand whether artificial sweeteners affect insulin resistance [8].

2. Damages tooth enamel

Phosphoric acid in diet soda is strong enough to be corrosive. It dissolves the tooth enamel, making it susceptible to cavities. A recent study concluded that the diet version of Coca-Cola causes dental erosion [9].

3. Weight gain as a long-term effect

If you drink diet soda on a regular basis to cut down on your calories, you’re making a mistake.

Yes, you achieve a caloric reduction by substituting regular soda for diet soda. However, this caloric reduction leads to overcompensation. You seek more energy-dense food, eat more, and as a result, you become at risk of being obese.

People who lose weight on diet soda are able to do so because they exercise [10].

4. Has side effects on the brain

There are a lot of scare stories around aspartame, and a widely discussed topic is its impact on brain health.

Researchers suspect that aspartame plays a role in some mental disorders because it changes the concentrations of brain chemicals like dopamine. Dopamine plays a role in your mood, memory, sleep, and attention.

A study on the neurobehavioral effects of aspartame showed that high doses caused irritability and depression among participants [11].

Another study that involved mice suggested that repeated aspartame consumption leads to poor memory [12].


5 Keto Friendly Homemade Diet Soda Recipes

Water is undeniably the best drink on the planet. It quenches your thirst, cures headaches, and prevents dehydration especially when you’re having keto flu.

We already know this but sometimes, we want to have that sweet beverage. Here’s a list of keto friendly beverages. Rest assured that these keto drinks besides water don’t contain health-harming ingredients.

1. Agua fresca

This Mexican, non-alcoholic drink combines fresh cantaloupe, lime juice, sparkling water, and erythritol (a safe keto diet sweetener). It won’t just refresh you on a hot day, but it’s also a good source of vitamin C -- thanks to cantaloupe and lime.


Fresh-cantaloupe-juice-served-in-a-glass-with-ice-cubes-and-fresh-mint-leaves-with-cantaloupe-slices-and-wooden-background

Preparation time:

Serve:

Ingredients:

  • 1lb. cantaloupe flesh
  • 2 ½ cups cold sparkling water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons powdered erythritol

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food blender.
  2. Place a mesh strainer over a large bowl.
  3. Strain the mixture pressing down any pieces of cantaloupe.
  4. Fill the serving glasses with ice. Pour in the agua fresca.
  5. Serve immediately.

Calories

20

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 0.1g

0%

Saturated Fat 0g

0%

Cholesterol 0mg

0%

Sodium 10mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate 4.9g

2%

Dietary Fiber 0.5g

2%

Total Sugars 4.5g

 

Protein 0.5g

 

2. Pink grapefruit soda

Our pink grapefruit soda is probably the best replacement for diet soda. It gives the same fizzy feeling but this time contains real juices from grapefruit and lemon. Serve it to your family and guests.


Grapefruit-juice-with-ice-and-mint-in-glasses-over-a-wooden-background

Preparation time:

Serve: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pink grapefruit, juiced
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 20 drops liquid stevia
  • 3 cups sparkling water
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine grapefruit juice lemon juice, stevia, and salt.
  2. Divide the mixture among four serving glasses.
  3. Add a few ice cubes into each glass and fill the glasses with sparkling water

Calories

15

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 0.1g

0%

Saturated Fat 0g

0%

Cholesterol 0mg

0%

Sodium 2mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate 4g

1%

Dietary Fiber 0.7g

3%

Total Sugars 2.3g

 

Protein 0.3g

 

3. Keto cola drink

Here’s a low-carb, low-calorie drink that takes away the guilt of drinking colas. We’ve added a couple of natural ingredients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties -- ginger, lavender, coriander seeds, and more.


two-glasses-of-cola-on-a-white-table-close-view

Preparation time:

Cooking time:

Serve: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups granulated erythritol
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ½ tablespoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
  • ¼ teaspoon citric acid powder
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in halfSoda water, as needed

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepot, except the soda water.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture into a large jug.
  5. Allow to cool and dilute to taste with soda water.
  6. Serve over ice.

Calories

4

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 0.1g

0%

Saturated Fat 0g

0%

Cholesterol 0mg

0%

Sodium 0mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate 0.7g

0%

Dietary Fiber 0.3g

1%

Total Sugars 0g

 

Protein 0.1g

 

4. Ginger ale

This ginger-flavored drink balances your blood sugar, relieves digestive problems, and calms cough. If you’re feeling under the weather, our keto ginger ale might be your refreshing solution.


Organic-Ginger-Ale-Soda-in-a-Glass-with-Lemon-and-Lime

Preparation time:

Serve: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 cups sparkling water
  • 2 tablespoons powdered erythritol
  • 22-inch pieces ginger, peeled, and minced
  • Mint, as desired
  • Ice cubes, as desired

Instructions:

  1. Peel and grate the ginger. Place it in a muslin or cheese cloth and squeeze until you have around 2 tablespoons of liquid ginger juice.
  2. In a jug, mix ginger juice, lemon juice and sparkling water.
  3. Stir in erythritol, add ice cubes and mint and serve immediately.

Calories

14

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 0.2g

0%

Saturated Fat 0.1g

0%

Cholesterol 0mg

0%

Sodium 4mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate 3.3g

1%

Dietary Fiber 0.8g

3%

Total Sugars 0.5g

 

Protein 0.4g

 

5. Sparkling pomegranate

Five ingredients are all you need to make four invigorating glasses of this pomegranate drink. It does contain a bit of caffeine, thanks to green tea that boosts your energy on super slumpy afternoons.


Pomegranate-drink-with-sparkling-water-ice-cubes-over-a-dark-blue-grey-background

Preparation time:

Serve: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup fresh pomegranate juice
  • ½ cup sparkling water
  • 20 drops stevia
  • ½ cup freshly brewed green tea, cold

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jug.
  2. Serve over ice.

Calories

18

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 0.3g

0%

Saturated Fat 0g

0%

Cholesterol 0mg

0%

Sodium 1mg

0%

Total Carbohydrate 4g

1%

Dietary Fiber 0.8g

3%

Total Sugars 3g

 

Protein 0.3g

 

Conclusion

Although diet soda seems to be an excellent way to reduce calories and satisfy your thirst, it’s best to avoid it. Think about the adverse outcomes of long-term consumption. Our five keto drinks are better alternatives. They’re low-carb and contain fruits and herbs that support a healthy lifestyle.


Takeaways

  • Diet soda is a combination of carbonated water, artificial sweeteners, colorings, and other chemical ingredients.
  • Some ingredients in diet soda are linked to weight gain, dental erosion, and neurobehavioral problems.  
  • Drinking diet soda occasionally is fine on keto. However, keep in mind that it goes against the principles of keto when it comes to optimal nutrition.
  • Keto friendly beverages keep sparkling water and add real ingredients such as lime, cantaloupe, ginger, and other low-carb fruits and herbs.

References

  1. Strawbridge H. Artificial sweeteners: sugar-free, but at what cost? 2012 July 16 - https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030
  2. Sengar G, Sharma HK. Food caramels: a review. 2012 February 9 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4152495/
  3. FDA U.S. Food & Drug Administration. CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. 2018 April 1 - https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=501.22
  4. Tucker KL et al. Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. 2006 October - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17023723
  5. Temple JL. Caffeine Use in Children: What we know, what we have left to learn, and why we should worry. 2009 January 20 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699625/
  6. Masood W, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. 2018 October 27 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/
  7. Hall KD. What is the Required Energy Deficit per unit Weight Loss?. 2007 September 11 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2376744/
  8. Nettleton JA, PhD et al. Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)*. 2009 January 16 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2660468/
  9. Khamverdi Z et al. Effect of a Common Diet and Regular Beverage on Enamel Erosion in Various Temperatures: An In-Vitro Study. 2013 September 30 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025425/
  10. Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings. 2010 June - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/
  11. Lindseth GN et al. Neurobehavioral Effects of Aspartame Consumption. 2014 April 3 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5617129/
  12. Abdel-Salam OM et al. Studies on the effects of aspartame on memory and oxidative stress in brain of mice. 2012 December - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23280025

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