Coke Zero vs. Diet Coke: Which is Better?

Both Coke Zero and Diet Coke are marketed as the "healthy" version of a regular Coca-Cola, but what's the difference, and which one is healthier?
Updated 18 February 2022
Coke Zero vs. Diet Coke: Which is Better?

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Sections on this page
  1. Coke Zero vs. Diet Coke: Key Differences
  2. Which One is Healthier?
  3. Which One Tastes Better?
  4. Frequently Asked Questions

Coca-Cola released Diet Coke in the 80s as a less-fattening version of the popular soda. It wasn't until more than 20 years later that Coke Zero (since rebranded to Coke Zero Sugar) was launched, with the primary goal to market it to men, who were otherwise not interested (and possibly embarrassed) in drinking Diet Coke. When looking at Coke Zero vs. Diet Coke, the differences are minimal. 

Coke Zero vs. Diet Coke: Key Differences

The main differences between Coke Zero Sugar and Diet Coke are: 

  • The taste: Coke Zero Sugar is supposed to taste more like regular Coca-Cola, while Diet Coke has a lighter flavor. 
  • The ingredients: Coke Zero Sugar contains additional ingredients to help preserve the taste of the original Coca-Cola. 
  • Caffeine: Diet Coke contains slightly more caffeine than Coke Zero Sugar. 
    Ingredients and Nutritional Comparison
  Diet Coke Coke Zero Sugar
Carbonated Water    
Caramel Color    
Phosphoric Acid    
Potassium Benzoate    
Natural Flavors    
Potassium Citrate    
Acesulfame Potassium    
Citric Acid    
Caffeine 46mg per 12oz can 34mg per 12oz can
Fat 0g 0g
Sodium 40mg 40mg
Sugars 0g 0g
Protein 0g 0g
Potassium 0g 60mg

Which One is Healthier?

Since both are very similar in ingredients and nutritional content, there's no clear winner between Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero Sugar. They both offer the same nutritional value (which isn't much) and have zero calories. 

If you're trying to figure out which one to drink, just pick which one you think tastes the best. 
Neither Are Actually "Healthy"

When it comes to sodas, there isn't really a healthy option. Sodas just aren't a healthy option in general. However, comparing a regular Coca-Cola to Diet Coke or Coke Zero, the latter two are considered the healthier options. 

It's important to remember that sodas should only be consumed in moderation, even the diet options. 

Due to some of the ingredients in diet sodas, excess consumption can lead to health issues, such as:

  • Migraines and headaches
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Kidney problems
  • Obesity
  • Rotting teeth

Which One Tastes Better?

Technically, Coke Zero Sugar is supposed to taste more like Coca-Cola classic. It's recently been marketed as the "Best Coke Ever" with improved flavor while still maintaining zero calories. 

However, it all comes down to personal preference—everyone's tastebuds are different, after all. 

Some people claim that Coke Zero tastes more like regular Coke, while Diet Coke has less flavor—but some people claim the exact opposite. 

Artificial Aftertaste

Perhaps the only general consensus that most people agree with is that there's a noticeable artificial aftertaste with both Coke Zero and Diet Coke that you don't get with regular Coke. This isn't a surprise since the culprit of this aftertaste is the artificial sweetener only found in the zero-calorie drinks. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much caffeine is in Coke Zero vs. Diet Coke?

Diet Coke has slightly more caffeine content than Coke Zero Sugar. In a 12oz can, the difference is 12mg, which is about 35% more caffeine. To give you an idea of how much caffeine this actually is, one can of Diet Coke or Coke Zero Sugar has roughly the same amount of caffeine as a cup of black tea. 

The difference in caffeine is very minimal—about half the caffeine found in a decaf coffee. 

How many calories in Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero?

Both Diet Coke and Coke Zero Sugar contain zero calories and zero sugars. Both use artificial sweeteners.

How much sugar is in Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero?

Neither Diet Coke nor Coke Zero Sugar contain sugar or carbohydrates. Instead, they contain artificial sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame potassium). 

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