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Can a Person with Diabetes Drink Diet Soda?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • A person with diabetes can drink diet soda.
  • Diet sodas contain fewer carbohydrates than regular soda and are less likely to raise your blood sugar levels.
  • Though a good alternative to regular soda, diet soda should not replace your intake of water.   

Today, most diet drinks continue to offer a low-calorie, no-sugar alternative to popular sweetened beverages, including sodas, energy drinks, and more. 

Diet sodas are a good alternative to regular sweetened sodas if you have diabetes because they are lower in carbohydrates and sugars. However, it’s important to ensure that you’re continuing to drink water and eat balanced meals on a regular basis as part of your overall diabetes management plan. 

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Can People with Diabetes Drink Diet Soda?

Yes, you can drink diet soda if you have diabetes. In fact, diet soda is a good alternative to regular soda for people with diabetes because it’s lower in carbohydrates and sugars. For example, one 12 ounce bottle of diet Coca-Cola has zero carbohydrates and sugars, while the same size regular Coca-Cola has 38.9 grams of carbohydrates and sugars.

Keeping track of your carbohydrate and sugar intake is important if you have diabetes because foods high in carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels more than other types of foods. Occasionally drinking diet soda in place of regular soda may help you to keep your carbohydrate intake at recommended levels and avoid spikes in your blood sugar.

What are the Risks?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Cancer Institute (NCI), there are no significant risks to consuming artificial sweeteners if you have diabetes. 

To replace the sugars in soda, diet soda is made using artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, saccharin, and others. These sweeteners are chemically synthesized to sweeten foods and beverages without adding to the caloric or carbohydrate profile of a product. 

Early studies conducted on rodents linked one artificial sweetener, saccharin, to a higher risk of bladder cancer in rodents. But research in the 2000s found that the way the sweetener causes cancer in rodents does not apply to humans

By law, the FDA is also required to review all food additives before they are introduced to the market. The FDA has found the following sweeteners safe for human consumption:

  • Saccharin, also known as Sweet’N Low.
  • Aspartame, also known as Equal.
  • Acesulfame potassium, also known as Ace-K or Sweet One.
  • Sucralose, also known as Splenda.
  • Neotame, also known as Newtame.
  • Advantame.

According to the FDA, there are no risks to drinking diet sodas made using the above sweeteners. However, certain individuals may react specifically to a particular food substance or ingredient, including artificial sweeteners. If you think you may have a sensitivity or adverse reaction to an ingredient in diet soda, reach out to your healthcare provider or dietitian for help.

Is Aspartame Safe for Diabetes?

Originally discovered in 1965, aspartame is an artificial sweetener still used today in many diet drinks and products. It is 180 times sweeter than sugar, meaning less is required to sweeten beverages and snacks than real sugar. 

The safety of aspartame has been a subject of debate for several years. But, as with the early research on saccharin, much of the early research on aspartame’s potential adverse effects was conducted on animals, not humans. 

The FDA and NCI consider aspartame to be a safe sweetener. And an article published by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) states that consuming aspartame will not raise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.  

Pros and Cons of Drinking Diet Soda with Diabetes

Pros

  • Drinking diet soda will not raise your blood sugar levels.
  • Drinking diet soda can satisfy your sweet tooth without adding to your overall carbohydrate or sugar intake.

Cons

  • Some people who are sensitive to artificial sweeteners may experience GI issues after drinking diet soda.
  • Diet sodas have no nutritional value.

Alternatives to Diet Soda

Diet soda is a good alternative for people with diabetes because it won’t spike blood sugar levels like other sweetened beverages. However, it’s also devoid of any nutritional value and should not be considered a replacement for water and other sources of nutrients. It’s also important to keep in mind that some people with GI issues may not tolerate artificial sweeteners well. 

When meal planning for diabetes, it’s important to ensure that you eat a variety of foods, snacks, and beverages that support your nutritional needs and unique tastes. If you’re not a fan of diet soda or are interested in trying alternatives, here are some options you can consider:

  • Water, including carbonated, still, and coconut waters
  • Fruit juice. (Keep in mind that juice can be high in both sugar and carbohydrates, so it’s important to monitor your consumption. It may also be best to make your own fruit juice at home without other refined sugar additives.)
  • Milk, including non-dairy alternatives like oat milk (milk also contains carbohydrates, so you should be mindful of how this drink may or may not raise your blood sugar levels).
  • Unsweetened tea.
  • Sugar-free sports drinks.
  • Prebiotic sodas.  

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Takeaway

Diet soda is a popular alternative to regular sweetened sodas. To remove the sugars, diet sodas are made with artificial sweeteners, like aspartame or saccharin. Although the safety of artificial sweeteners has been scrutinized in the past, the FDA and NCI consider them to be safe for human consumption. Additionally, an article published by the ADA states that artificial sweeteners like aspartame do not raise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. 

If you enjoy the flavor and taste of diet soda, you can enjoy the beverage without worrying about its effect on your blood sugar levels. However, continuing to hydrate your body with water and eating regular balanced meals is important to supporting your overall health when you have diabetes.

Managing Diabetes with a Dietitian

Learning which foods may benefit or harm your health while honoring your unique tastes and preferences can be overwhelming when you have diabetes. Working with a diabetes dietitian can help you identify foods that can help to satisfy your tastes and manage your diabetes with ease.

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Frequently Asked Questions

References

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While you don’t seem to be at risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes based on this quiz, please contact your healthcare provider with any concerns. If you want to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes with diabetes, find a registered dietitian covered by insurance with Nourish.

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You should seek guidance from your healthcare provider about the possibility of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

If you want to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes with diabetes, find a registered dietitian covered by insurance with Nourish.

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