Is diet really a better option than regular soda pop?

The age old question, is diet really a better option than regular soda pop for you? I am going to use coke as the example for this blog but the same will apply to all diet or regular soda pop. So let’s take a look at the nutrition facts found directly on Coca-Cola’s website:

Regular 12oz can:

Calories: 140

Total Carbs: 39 grams

Carbs from added sugars: 39 grams

Diet 12oz can:

Calories: 0 (Zero)

Total Carbs: 0 (Zero)

Carbs from added sugars: 0 (Zero)

This looks like a clear cut winner in my opinion. Hands down diet coke is the winner of the better soda pop option if you are only considering 1 factor. That factor is calories. 

Let me give you a scenario: You are in a pinch and need to get McDonald’s. Your first thought is how can I make this not a terrible meal for me. “Okay I will get a grilled chicken sandwich and only eat a half a bun. I really want those golden crispy delicious fries but I want a coke too. I got it. Maybe I will get a diet coke because it’s got no calories and I can replace the calories of a coke with a small fry, perfect right?”

Have you ever done something similar but instead of fries maybe it’s chips with your sandwich or now I can eat ice cream later on today? This is a very common thing not just with soda pop but all things. I will eat less of these mashed potatoes so I can have pie later. This thinking can be extremely flawed. Back to the scenario. McDonalds small fry according to their website is 220 calories. You can see where I am going with this. If you just had the regular coke and skipped the fries you would have consumed 80 less calories.

This is the trap of diet soda pop. It gets you to think “oh this has zero calories so I can have something else later and not have to worry about it.” I call this the “I was good today so I can have something bad syndrome.” Diet soda pop can promote this way of thinking and it 100% does. It’s a pretty common occurrence. 

Is diet really a better option than regular soda pop? Diet in terms of calories will always be the better option as long as you don’t replace the calories with anything else (including healthy food). If it’s an either or decision. Meaning I can have a regular coke or the ice cream later and not if I have a diet coke I can have ice cream later. I would actually choose the regular coke especially if you have trouble only eating the serving size. Remember, the serving size of the chips you are eating from that family size bag is 12-15 chips and worth almost the same as a 12 oz can of coke. The question you have to answer is how many chips are you going to eat?

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