Is Diet Soda Keto-Friendly? Uncovering the Aspartame Sweetener

by Eric Gordon on February 17, 2020

What You’ll Learn

  1. What is Diet Soda?
  2. What is Aspartame?
  3. Negative Side Effects of Aspartame
  4. What Is a Good Substitute for Aspartame
  5. Are Diet Sodas Keto-Friendly?
  6. Last Impression 

Soda is a very popular drink throughout the world. However, there is a great deal of talk about how unhealthy soda is because it is filled with sugar, among other things. As a result, people often drink diet soda to eliminate the sugar and still get their soda fix in. People who are embarking on the keto diet often wonder if diet soda is keto-friendly.

Diet soda replaces the sugar with an artificial sweetener or sugar alcohol, which reduces its carb count to zero. This fits in with one part of the keto diet, yet it is important to note that the keto diet is about more than simply reducing carbs; it’s also about getting your micronutrients from high-quality foods.

Aspartame is one popular sweetener used in diet sodas, and the problem is that it may have a negative impact on your health. Read on to uncover what is in the aspartame sweetener and how diet sodas can fit into the keto diet.

What Is Diet Soda?

Diet soda is just like regular soda without the sugar. The sugar is replaced with an artificial sweetener or sugar alcohol. As a result, diet soda has no calories, sugar, or carbs. Diet soda usually contains the following ingredients:

  • Carbonated water: water infused with carbon dioxide
  • Artificial sweetener or sugar alcohol: aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, or others
  • Caramel color: coloring agent
  • Natural flavorings: additive from fruit, eggs, herbs, or other food solely for flavor
  • Phosphoric acid: found in the bubbles
  • Caffeine
  • Preservatives: potassium benzoate and potassium sorbate to stop the growth of mold or fungi

Diet Coke

When you look at the nutritional value of Diet Coke, you find the following:

  • Calories: 0
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 40 mg
  • Carbs: 0 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams

Besides this, Diet Coke has all of the ingredients below, which are:

  • Carbonated water
  • Aspartame
  • Caramel color
  • Natural flavorings
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Caffeine
  • Potassium benzoate
  • Citric acid

The keto diet is low carb, and for this reason alone, it technically works with the keto diet. If you want to drink a soda and choose to replace regular coke with Diet Coke, you will not be adding carbs to your diet.

The problem is that Diet Coke has ingredients that offer no nutrition and may be harmful to you. A ketogenic diet that is well-formulated considers more than reducing carbs; it includes making sure that you get micronutrients from healthy foods. Diet Coke doesn’t do this.

Diet Pepsi

Similar to Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi contains the following nutritional information:

  • Calories: 0
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 35 mg
  • Protein: 0 grams

In addition, Diet Pepsi has the following ingredients:

  • Carbonated water
  • Aspartame
  • Caramel color
  • Natural flavorings
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Caffeine
  • Potassium benzoate
  • Citric acid
  • Acesulfame potassium

The ingredients are almost identical to Diet Coke, but it has acesulfame potassium, which is an artificial sweetener up to 200 times sweeter than sugar. As with Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi is technically keto-friendly because it lacks carbs, even though the other ingredients may impact your health negatively.

What Is Aspartame?

Both Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi have the artificial sweetener aspartame in them. It is also sold as NutraSweet or Equal. The ingredients in aspartame are aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Each of these ingredients is an amino acid that occurs naturally. Your body produces aspartic acid, and phenylalanine comes from food.

When you eat food that has aspartame in it, your body breaks it down into methanol. This is where aspartame may not be safe. In large quantities, methanol is known to be toxic. In smaller amounts, it may also be harmful because it can have enhanced absorption because, in hot temperatures, methanol is converted to free methanol.

Free methanol breaks down into formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. However, aspartame has been deemed safe by a number of agencies, including the following:

  • United States Food and Drug Association (FDA)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • American Dietetic Association
  • American Heart Association
  • United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

However, aspartame has been linked to the following health conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s disease

Negative Side Effects of Aspartame

As stated, aspartame has been linked to a series of diseases, and in addition, people note other negative side effects. One of these effects is an increase in appetite. Some research suggests that the sweetness in aspartame causes the body to send signals that food is entering the gut, however when the food doesn’t enter, it sends signals of hunger.

Another potential negative side effect is that this same process may disrupt the metabolism. This can lead to type 2 Diabetes and possibly create glucose intolerance for those with obesity. In addition, people may experience the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Seizures

Studies have shown the potential dangers of consuming aspartame, so it is best to be cautious.

What Is a Good Substitute for Aspartame?

In fact, there are a number of sweeteners that contain no calories and no carbs, and they are not linked to these negative side effects. The four best ones are:

  • Monk fruit
  • Stevia
  • Swerve

Not only do these four sweeteners have zero carbs and zero calories they do not raise your blood sugar.

Are Diet Sodas Keto-Friendly?

Although diet sodas including Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi are technically keto-friendly in the sense that they have no carbs and no calories, it is not a good idea to make them a part of your diet. They contain no micronutrients, and aspartame may be harmful to your health. In addition, they may have a number of more dangerous side effects such as an increase in risk for heart disease.

If you are looking for a carbonated drink that is keto-friendly, you can drink sparkling water, which also lacks calories and carbs. If you want to use a sweetener, try monk fruit, stevia, or swerve. There are much healthier options than diet soda that go well with the keto diet, and you should try those instead. Take a look at the following:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Nondairy milk
  • Smoothies
  • Coconut water

The best drink you can have on the keto diet is water. It is important to keep yourself hydrated, and it is essential to survival. If you want carbonated water to replace soda, that is fine, and you can add flavor with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. You can actually use any fruit to add flavor to your water.

Coconut water comes from the green coconut, and it is low calorie and has a lot of potassium. It is a great alternative to diet soda.

Unsweetened coffee or tea is another good drink. You should drink caffeine in moderation, but it has benefits in small amounts. It can help with appetite control and losing weight. Tea is another drink that has no carbs, and some teas even have health benefits.

You can also try nondairy kinds of milk, as long as they don’t contain sweeteners. They are actually a great source of healthy fats. You can try coconut milk, cashew milk, or almond milk.

You can make a smoothie with all kinds of keto-friendly food. Here are a few ingredient choices:

    • Healthy fats: Avocado, nut butter, egg yolks
    • Vegetables: Spinach, kale
    • Some fruits: Blueberries, raspberries
    • Sweetener: stevia, monk fruit

Last Impression

Diet sodas such as Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi don’t contain any carbs or calories, but they do contain aspartame, which has been linked to harmful diseases and negative side effects. Because the keto diet is about more than reducing carbs and increasing healthy fats and proteins, diet soda doesn’t fit into the philosophy.

When you choose the keto lifestyle, you are committing to live a healthier life. You are eliminating carbs, but you are also reducing processed foods, foods with too much sugar, and other items that are not good for you. Diet soda is an oddity because it is low carb, but it is not good for you.

To transition your body to ketosis, you need to increase your intake of healthy fats and proteins at the same time. This way, your liver will produce ketones from stored and dietary fats. Diet soda can cause you to feel hungrier or to crave sugar because it confuses the signaling receptors in your body. For this reason, it doesn’t really matter that it has no carbs as it may signal your body to crave carbs.

Diet soda contains aspartame, which may have some harmful effects on your health. There is no reason to consume a potentially dangerous sweetener when there are other choices that are keto-friendly, such as monks fruit or stevia. You can replace diet soda with healthier keto-friendly options, such as carbonated water with lemon, or you can drink unsweetened coffee or tea. There are many choices for drinks when you are on the keto diet, and you need to choose those that are healthy and have a positive impact on your body.


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