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Is diet coke bad for you?

Updated on August 31, 2015

Short answer:

Drinking a can or two a day isn't likely to harm you. But taking it in massive quantities will hurt your health, and sabotage your weight loss efforts.

Long Answer:

Diet coke is different from the conventional coke because it lacks calories. It doesn't have sugar or carbohydrates. A regular 12-ounce can of coke comes with 39g of sugar and 140 calories. Ideally, diet coke is designed to help people lose weight. However, some of its ingredients cause side effects, especially when you guzzle copious amounts of the drink.

For instance, the caffeine in diet coke is meant to give an energy boost. A can of 12 ounces has 47mg of caffeine. That's okay for most people. But if you're caffeine-sensitive or when you take many cans, you'll experience the short side effects listed. The caffeine also interferes with supplements and medication such as norfloxacin and theophylline. Since diet coke is high in phosphate, it also interferes with your calcium levels. Too much diet coke increases phosphate levels in your blood, which draws the calcium from the bones. Weaker bones increase your risk of fracture. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, daily diet coke intake increases your chances of getting fractured in a fall by 3-4 times.

When it comes to weight loss, the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA) research showed that occasional diet soda drinkers had a gain of 3 times more belly fat than non-drinkers. Daily drinkers gained an average 3.16 inches over the 10 year duration of the study. This visceral fat increases risk of diabetes and cardio vascular disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, claims that aspartame (the artificial sweetener in diet coke) can cause cancer are not valid. However, those with phenylketonuria should avoid it.

Note that diet coke is not ideal for quenching your thirst. It's diuretic (makes a person urinate more), has low nutrition value and this may lead to dehydration.

Short term side effects of Diet Coke

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Abnormal heart rhythms

Long term side effects of diet coke

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin resistance

Benefits of diet coke

  • Moderate consumption helps those who are trying to switch from regular soda and reduce their calorie intake.
  • Tastes better than plain water.

Healthier alternatives


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    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 2 years ago from America

      Billie Kelpin, I may have you beat I drink 4-2-liter bottles a week plus maybe more if I stop at McDonalds. I will continue to drink it. Like you I'm rarely sick and if I get cancer or any disease I know my friends will blame it on all the diet coke I drink. I get lectures all the time I'm 70 I know I should stop I don't someone to tell me that.

    • Billie Kelpin profile image

      Billie Kelpin 2 years ago from Newport Beach

      I am probably the biggest Diet Coke drinker on the face of the planet. (not that I'm proud of that fact :) The Coke company should really offer me a car or something! I open a can first thing in the morning and have one by my bedside at night. In between, I open a can of diet coke whenever I'm stuck for an idea, or anxious, or... I leave 1/2 finished coke cans all over the house. (When the fizz is gone, I'm done - perhaps a metaphor for my life). I've tried to stop because afterall, it IS true about the visceral fat. That has always been a big problem for me and I never had known about the relationship to Diet Coke until I was entrenched. I have been drinking Diet Coke for about 40 years. Sometimes I get the feeling that it actually wards off some kinds of bacteria because I'm rarely sick. After all, what can live in all that acidic environment (I jest). My adult children treat me as if I am commiting the worse sin in the world as they sit around the table with their 3rd glass of wine.... But I love them dearly, so I AM trying to STOP! Global climate change is helping :) I can't drink too much Diet Coke when it's hot outside. You are totally correct and helpful in posting this article! Cheers, Billie

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 2 years ago from Minnesota

      I too drink Diet Pepsi. I don't think any diet soda is good for you if you overdo it. I certainly overdo it and have tried to stop many times. This hub inspires me. Thanks.

    • VationSays profile image

      VationSays 2 years ago

      Thanks fellow hubbers! Glad to be of help :)

      And about cola, i"ll look into diet pepsi and publish a hub on it.

    • profile image

      Cathy Xavier 2 years ago

      Pretty good read and useful!!

    • luisj305 profile image

      luisj305 2 years ago from Florida

      Enjoyable hub and Good info for knowing how serious this delicious drink can harm your body.

    • GreenEyes1607 profile image

      GreenEyes1607 2 years ago from USA

      Great and informative article! I also read in a health journal that Diet Coke actually disrupts the good bacteria in a person's gut so they are more likely to get sick if they drink it on a regular basis. I think all soda is harmful to a person but Diet Coke might be the worst offender. That artificial sweetener they use instead of sugar is worse than the sugar itself. I gave up drinking soda 7 years ago and don't even miss it anymore. I'd rather drink boring old water because at least it's good for me.

    • profile image

      Paula 2 years ago

      Are you going to mention Pepsi? Or was someone just stupid enough to use the lowercase 'coke' to mean 'cola'?

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 2 years ago from America

      I drink caffeine free diet coke the minute I stop drinking it I gain weight and my skin gets dry. Doctor told me to start drinking it 32 years ago and I have been drinking it from that time on. Just a couple years ago I thought I would try to quit now I have decided I'm too old and I'm going to continue on. I did enjoy your hub. vote up

    • Linda Robinson60 profile image

      Linda Robinson 2 years ago from Cicero, New York

      Hello Vation Just wanted to mention how informative and interesting your hub about diet soda was and things that everyone should be informed of. Super writing. I look forward to reading all of your hubs. Nice meeting you. Linda