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For many, starting the day off right means starting the day off with a can of Coke. If you’re looking for a sugar-free option, that soda might be Coke Zero.
‘Zero calories’ sounds great. But you still want something to start your day. So how much caffeine in Coke Zero is there?
Let’s compare the caffeine in this sugar-free soda to other versions of Coke and even coffee. We’ll also look at how Coke Zero retains its flavor and potential side effects on the body.
Note: What used to be called Coke Zero is now Coke Zero Sugar. We’ll use the two interchangeably.
Coke Zero differs from the regular versions of Coca-Cola in that Coke Zero contains no sugar.
Instead, it is sweetened with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium (known colloquially as Ace-K).
(The sugar in regular Coke comes mainly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.)
The use of artificial sweeteners means that there is no sugar and no calories at all in Coke Zero. Contrast that to the original version, which contains 140 calories and a massive 39 g of sugar.
At first glance, this comparison makes Zero look like a soda pop hero.
Yet rumors abound about potential negative health implications of these artificial sweeteners.
Acesulfame potassium contains methylene chloride, a known carcinogen. A study published in 2020 concluded that “Ace K is unlikely to induce a carcinogenic response.” But the limited number of studies surrounding this chemical might be concerning if you drink Coke Zeros regularly.
Aspartame hasn’t been conclusively linked to any serious health side effects. But there have been many controversies surrounding the thoroughness of existing studies.
The FDA recommends that you don’t consume more than 50 mg of Aspartame per kg of body weight per day. Their daily limit for Ace-K is even lower at 15 mg per kg of body weight.
It is also worth mentioning that Coke warns those with PKU (phenylketonuria, a rare inherited disorder) not to drink Coke Zero. This warning is due to the inclusion of phenylalanine. According to the NHS, he build-up of this amino acid can lead to brain damage.
The regular and zero-sugar versions contain the same amount of caffeine. But a 12-ounce can of Diet Coke contains more, at 42 mg.
Like Coke Zero, Diet Coke contains aspartame and potassium benzoate to protect taste. But it doesn’t contain acesulfame potassium.
All three kinds contain natural flavors, phosphoric acid, and caramel color.
Coke Zero includes potassium citrate for added tang and flavor regulation. Other iterations of Coca-Cola do not.
No, Coke Zero is not caffeine-free. It contains 34 mg of caffeine per standard 12 oz can and 57 mg of caffeine per standard 20 oz bottle.
There is, however, a caffeine-free version of Coca-Cola Zero sugar. (Just as there’s a version of regular Coke without caffeine.)
Both caffeine-free and caffeinated Coke come in several flavors. You can choose from cherry, vanilla, orange vanilla, and cherry vanilla. Caffeine content stays the same no matter which of these you choose.
A 12-ounce can of Coke Zero Sugar contains 34 mg of caffeine. The same size (12-ounce) cup of standard brewed coffee would contain around 180 mg of caffeine. That’s six times more caffeine in the same amount of liquid.
Here’s the thing to remember. You can enjoy coffee in many different ways. And the way that it’s prepared plays a huge role in the amount of caffeine it contains.
Bean varietal and roast profile can impact how much caffeine is in coffee. But brew method is the aspect over which you, the coffee consumer, have the most control.
Take a look at a few popular coffee beverages, and how much caffeine they contain compared to Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.
As you can see, coffee contains a lot more caffeine per serving.
Plus, you get that energy boost without the high sugar and calorie count of regular Coke. Not to mention the potential side effects of the artificial sweeteners in Coke Zero.
Coke Zero Sugar contains 34 mg of caffeine per standard-size 12-ounce can. The larger 20-ounce bottle contains 57 mg of caffeine.
Standard brewed coffee contains around five to six times more caffeine. So if you want the highest caffeine kick, swap that Cherry Coke for a cup of coffee.
For reference, energy drinks fall somewhere between Coke and Coffee. Generally, they contain around double the amount of caffeine as Coke Zeros.
If you want to avoid caffeine, you can buy a caffeine-free version. It’s the same drink, with the same flavor, just without the added caffeine.
But be aware that the artificial sweeteners in Coke Zero might pose health concerns. Even though more research is needed, it’s worrying to see so many negative effects linked to the duo.
The long-term effects of Coke Zero on your body need more research. Coke Zero uses aspartame and Ace-K. This sweetener duo has been linked to several health rumors. Ace-K is known to contain the carcinogen methylene chloride. But existing studies about these additives are both limited and inconclusive.
Yes, Coke Zero Cherry contains 34 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce can. That’s the same amount of caffeine as the standard flavor of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. All Coke Zero flavors contain the same amount of caffeine. Same goes for regular Cherry Coke.
Philip Felongco is an ex-barista and has worked in the coffee industry since 2017. Currently, he works as a roaster at a boutique coffee company and writes about coffee in his spare time.
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