March 17, 2024

Is Diet Soda Better Than Normal Soda?

Written by our expert


Avanthika Nityanand

M.Sc Human Genetics, B.Sc Plant Biology & Plant Biotechnology

Is Diet Soda Better Than Normal Soda?
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The debate between diet soda and regular soda is a longstanding one, with health-conscious individuals and experts often weighing the pros and cons of each.

On one side, regular soda is criticized for its high sugar content and associated health risks, such as obesity, diabetes, and dental decay.

On the other, diet soda offers a sugar-free alternative, sweetened instead with artificial sweeteners, which presents its own set of concerns and controversies, including potential effects on metabolic health and cravings.

This discussion aims to delve into the comparative analysis of diet and regular sodas, examining their ingredients, health impacts, and suitability for different lifestyle choices.

By navigating through the complexities of both options, we aim to provide a clearer understanding of which, if any, might be the "better" choice for those looking to enjoy their fizzy fix more healthily.

Is Diet Soda Better for Your Teeth?

Diet soda is often considered a better alternative to regular soda for dental health, mainly because it lacks sugar.

Sugar in regular soda can feed oral bacteria, leading to acid production that erodes tooth enamel. [ref]

However, this doesn't mean diet soda is harmless.

Diet sodas still contain acidic compounds, like phosphoric acid and citric acid, which can weaken tooth enamel over time. [ref]

The absence of sugar in diet soda does reduce the risk of developing cavities, but the acidity can still contribute to dental erosion, a process where the surface of the teeth wears away. [ref]

To minimize risk, it’s advisable to consume diet soda in moderation and practice good oral hygiene, including rinsing the mouth with water after drinking.

Is Diet Soda Hydrating?

While diet soda contains water, it's not the best hydration choice.

The caffeine present in many diet sodas can have a mild diuretic effect, leading to increased urination and potentially slight dehydration if consumed in large amounts. [ref]

However, for most people, the diuretic effect of caffeine in diet soda is minor, especially if they're accustomed to caffeine.

woman sipping soda
Photo by Leah Newhouse on

Drinking diet soda can contribute to your daily fluid intake, but it shouldn't replace water as the primary source of hydration.

Water is the most effective hydrator and is free from the additives, artificial sweeteners, and acids in diet soda.

Are Diet Sodas Keto-Friendly?

Diet sodas are generally considered keto-friendly due to their low to zero carbohydrate content, which aligns with the ketogenic diet's requirement to maintain a low carbohydrate intake. [ref]

However, the artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas, such as aspartame, sucralose, or stevia, can vary in their effects on individuals.

Some people might experience an insulin response or cravings that could potentially interfere with ketosis.

Although they can be included in a keto diet, it's essential to monitor how your body responds and consider consuming them in moderation.

Can Diabetics Drink Diet Soda?

Diet soda, being sugar-free, doesn't directly spike blood sugar levels like regular soda does. Hence it is thought to be a beverage choice for diabetics.

However, the impact of artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels is a subject of ongoing research, with mixed findings.

Some studies suggest that regular consumption of artificially sweetened beverages might be linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, though the evidence is not conclusive.

In a 2020 cross-sectional study at a Central India tertiary care hospital, patients with type-2 diabetes were divided into two groups: those who used artificial sweeteners (Group A) and those who did not (Group B). Insulin resistance was measured using HOMA-IR, and significantly higher insulin resistance was observed in Group A. Specifically, HOMA-IR values ranged from 0.9–24.33 in Group A and 0.12–10.83 in Group B, with mean values of 7.39 and 2.6, respectively. Additionally, the study found a direct correlation between the duration of artificial sweetener use and the level of insulin resistance, highlighting the potential long-term risks associated with these sugar substitutes. [ref]

People with diabetes may choose to drink diet soda in moderation. Still, focusing on a balanced diet rich in whole foods is crucial and consulting with healthcare professionals regarding their beverage choices is crucial.

Is Diet Soda Worse Than Regular Soda?

While diet soda could be a better option than regular soda, each has its drawbacks.

Regular soda is high in sugar, contributing to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dental problems.

Diet soda, while free from sugar, contains artificial sweeteners and acids that can have other health implications, such as potential links to an increased risk of certain metabolic disorders and dental erosion.

The choice between the two depends on individual health goals and conditions.

Moderation is key in the consumption of either type of soda, with a general recommendation towards healthier beverage choices like water, herbal teas, or natural fruit juices.

Can You Drink Diet Soda After Brushing Teeth?

Drinking diet soda immediately after brushing teeth can expose the teeth to acid, potentially harming the enamel.

Toothpaste increases the mouth's pH level to fight plaque and cavities, and introducing an acidic beverage like diet soda can counteract this effect. [ref]

If you choose to drink diet soda, it's best to wait a while after brushing to allow the fluoride from the toothpaste to strengthen the enamel.

a woman in bra wearing a head towel brushing her teeth
Photo by Yan Krukau on

A 2009 cross-sectional study found that popular acidic beverages can produce dental erosion, with energy drinks, Gatorade®, Red Bull®, and Coke® posing the greatest risk to both enamel and root surfaces. [ref]

Alternatively, consider drinking water or rinsing your mouth after consuming diet soda to neutralize the acids.

Does Diet Soda Break Intermittent Fasting?

Diet soda may not technically break a fast due to its negligible calorie content, making it appealing to those following an intermittent fasting regime.

However, diet soda's artificial sweeteners can stimulate hunger cues or even mimic a metabolic response, potentially affecting the fasting benefits related to insulin sensitivity and calorie restriction. [ref]

For a pure fasting experience, sticking to water, black coffee, or unsweetened tea during fasting periods is advisable, using diet soda sparingly or during eating periods.

Is Diet Soda Bad for Muscle Growth?

Diet soda itself is not directly linked to hindering muscle growth.

The primary concerns for muscle development are adequate protein intake, overall nutrition, and strength training.

However, choosing diet soda over nutrient-rich beverages could indirectly affect muscle growth by missing out on essential vitamins and minerals needed for muscle repair and performance.

Moreover, caffeine in diet soda could affect sleep quality if consumed in large amounts or close to bedtime, potentially impeding muscle recovery and growth.

For optimal muscle health, focus on a balanced diet and hydrate primarily with water.

Are Diet Sodas Bad for You? The Bottomline

The health effects of diet sodas are debated among experts.

While they offer a low-calorie alternative to sugary beverages, concerns exist about the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on appetite, gut health, and the risk of certain diseases.

Some studies suggest a correlation between diet soda consumption and an increased risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases, though causation has not been firmly established.

Moderation is key; incorporating diet sodas into a balanced diet is generally considered acceptable, but reliance on any artificial sweetener-laden product at the expense of nutrient-dense foods and beverages is not advisable.


When it comes to choosing between diet soda and regular soda, both options come with their set of drawbacks.

Regular soda is high in sugar, which can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and tooth decay.

Diet soda, on the other hand, avoids sugar but contains artificial sweeteners that have their potential health concerns, such as affecting metabolism and possibly leading to cravings and overeating.

Both types also contain acids that can erode dental enamel.

Ultimately, moderation is key, and neither should be consumed in excess.

For those looking to maintain a healthier lifestyle, water, herbal teas, or naturally flavored seltzers might be the better choices to stay hydrated without the added risks.

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