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Is Coke Zero Bad?

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I just had my first ever Coke Zero. Why? I’ve always hated aspartame but I wanted to see how it impacted blood sugar. Funny thing is… I didn’t hate the taste, was actually pretty good (I grew up HATING anything with aspartame). In this post I cover: does Coke Zero raise blood sugar and is it bad for you?

Coke Zero Sugar

Does Coke Zero (aspartame) raise blood sugar?

No, (for me) the aspartame did not impact blood sugar (even a little). I’m wearing a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) to test – I’ve got a post explaining what that means. Here’s a look at when I drank the Coke and its impact. Note: it had been several hours since I had eaten anything and I was not particularly active. I’ve found that I can mitigate blood sugar spikes in high carb foods by eating protein and fat prior to the carbs and if I’m active I tend to utilize the carbohydrate (blood sugar) very quickly. Neither of those elements were present so this was a good reading (via CGM).

The (1) represents the exact time I drank the Coke Zero Sugar. And as you can see, there was no significant impact to blood sugar.

My personal view: Coke Zero would not contribute to diabetes risk. There are confounding studies on both sides of that view. My take: studies that ask a question like “do you drink diet soda” are not going to be able to provide a full picture of all dietary decisions by participants – not a fan.

In my N=1 study (just me) Coke Zero had no impact on blood sugar.

A Possible Danger? Asparatame

Aspartame is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners available. Aspartame is also known as: NutraSweet and Equal. Aspartame is approved by the FDA but…

“The California Environmental Protection Agency and others have urged that independent scientists conduct new animal studies to resolve the cancer question. In 2005, researchers at the Ramazzini Foundation in Bologna, Italy, conducted the first such study. The study found that rats exposed to aspartame starting at eight weeks of age and continuing through their entire lifetimes developed lymphomas, leukemias, and other tumors, including kidney tumors, which are extremely rare in the strain of rat used. In 2007, the same researchers published a follow-up study that exposed rats to aspartame beginning in the womb and continuing through their entire lifetimes. That study, too, found that aspartame caused leukemias/lymphomas, as well as mammary (breast) cancer. Then in 2010, they published a study that exposed mice to aspartame, starting in the womb and continuing throughout their entire lifetimes. That third study found that aspartame caused liver and lung cancer in male mice.

Meanwhile, the most careful long-term study of aspartame in humans, conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, found the first human evidence that aspartame poses a slightly increased cancer risk to men, but not women. The researchers speculated that that might be due to the fact that men have higher levels of an enzyme that converts methanol (a breakdown product of aspartame) to formaldehyde, a human carcinogen. The Harvard study couldn’t prove that aspartame was a carcinogen, but it certainly added to the safety concerns, especially since the cancers observed in the human study (multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) were similar to the cancers observed in two of the three animal studies (leukemias and lymphomas). Another study by researchers with the American Cancer Society, not quite as large as the Harvard study, did not find any link.

A recent review of all of the evidence by the scientists who conducted the three positive animal studies urges governments to re-examine their positions on aspartame, and recommends that pregnant women and children not consume aspartame.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

I just don’t think there’s enough data to point the finger at Aspartame as causing any obvious health risks.

In Summary

  • I don’t believe Coke Zero causes diabetes
  • I don’t believe Coke Zero raises blood sugar in most (if not all) individuals
  • I do believe Coke Zero should NOT be consumed daily (personal belief, err on the side of caution)

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CGM Rob Benson
I wore a CGM and tested the US Government's Recommendations (here's what I learned)
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Peter Conner

Sunday 2nd of May 2021

Four.of Us all pre Diabetic or have full diabetes took blood sugar reading the had a coke zero 12 oz can. Half an hour later we again took reading and everyone of Us had blood sugar levels at least 100 points high. My blood sugar went from 246 to 358. Just because 1 person who didn't mention if their Diabetic or not says it has no effect or even if the company "Coke" says it don't believe its the same for you.

Rob Benson

Friday 7th of May 2021

Interesting take, Peter. I'd be interested to know if this was fasted or with other food items or activity. While I don't consume or suggest anyone consume aspartame. It's a zero on the glycemic index. Would be interested to learn more on what surrounded your consumption.