A Dietitian And Nutritionist Weigh In On Regular Coke Versus Diet Coke

19/01/2016 6:13 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
George Marks via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1950s: Teenage girl with bottle of Coca-Cola.

Despite being fully aware of the effects sugary, carbonated drinks have on our teeth and more importantly our diet, it is hardly surprising to see every other person in the supermarket buying the stuff.

And if it’s not the regular version -- it’s the diet one. Void of any sugar which means it’s fine, right? Wrong.

“The question you should really be asking is: ‘What’s it going to be? A soft drink loaded with sugars or the diet drink loaded with chemicals?’” nutritionist Robbie Clark told The Huffington Post Australia.

“Water should always be your first choice of fluid and you should use natural fruit if you wish to add flavour,” Clarke said.

“If we look at something like Coca Cola, the diet version contains a higher content of caffeine than regular Coke, which if consumed in high quantities may increase levels of anxiety, blood pressure and altered gut function,” Clark said.

“And while diet versions offer a modest saving in sugar intake thanks to the use of artificial sweeteners, there is emerging evidence to suggest your brain might not actually know the difference between the two,” Clark said.

As a result, with long-term use, your body may physiologically respond the same way as it would if you consumed actual sugar. In short, whether it’s the regular or diet version -- the physiological responses are the same.

Melanie McGrice, an accredited practising dietitian explains while there isn’t any solid evidence to show regular consumption of diet drinks is harmful, she doesn’t advise drinking them on a daily basis.

“Even though they don’t contain many kilojoules, it doesn’t make them a healthy choice -- and they are terrible for our teeth,” McGrice told HuffPost Australia.

But that’s not to say the regular version is much better.

“It’s loaded with added sugars, which when consumed regularly and in high quantities is linked to increased risk of chronic health conditions such as overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, some cancers,” Clark said.

However, if you’re trying to avoid artificial sweetener substitutes, you won’t find them in regular Coca Cola.

The final verdict?

“Had artificial sweeteners been found 100 percent safe, without any side effects, the answer would be Diet Coke. But, that’s not the case,” Clark said.

“Basically, if you have to lose weight or want to avoid spikes of sugar (especially important in people with type two diabetes, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance), Diet Coke is better than standard Coca Cola -- which contains the equivalent of eight teaspoons of sugar in a 375 milliliters can,” Clark said.

"However, if you’re within a healthy weight and you engage in regular physical activity and are concerned about ingesting artificial sweeteners you may be better off choosing regular Coke.

“They both have pros and cons, and they both have zero nutrition,” Clark said.

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