Coca-Cola has long been the most popular caffeinated soft drink worldwide. In 2005, Coca-Cola released an alternative to the sugar-laden classic Coke- Coke Zero Sugar. With no sugar and no calories, it would be easy to assume that Coke Zero also has no caffeine. But this is not actually the case. In this article we will explore the question ‘Does Coke Zero have caffeine?’
Does Coke Zero Have Caffeine?- Short Answer
Coke Zero, contrary to its name, does contain a small amount of caffeine. A 12 fl oz can has 34mg of caffeine in it. This is relatively low compared to other soft drinks and much less caffeine than you would find in a cup of coffee. However, it is not at the Zero point as some may think given the name.
What Is Coke Zero?
Coke Zero is a healthier alternative to the original Coke that was introduced by Coca-Cola in 2006. Its main selling point is that it has no sugar added, rather artificial sweeteners. The drink tastes very similar to the classic Coke, with a sweet flavor, but a distinct aftertaste. The drink was rebranded to Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in 2016.
Coke Zero Sugar contains two artificial sweeteners; Aspartame and Acesulfame Potassium. Both sweeteners are 200 times sweeter than sugar but do not raise blood sugar levels as traditional sugar does. The other advantage of these sweeteners is that they contain no calories, making Coke Zero a good option for those watching their waistline.
Asides from the sweeteners Coke Zero also contains carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, potassium citrate, and caffeine. It should also be noted that Coke Zero Sugar also contains an amino acid known as Phenylalanine, so should be avoided by anyone with phenylketonuria (PKU).
Coke Zero Sugar is available in a range of flavor variations including Cherry Vanilla, Cherry, Orange Vanilla, Vanilla, and Caffeine-Free.
Nutrition Facts (for a 12 fl oz can)
Does Coke Zero Have Caffeine?
As indicated above, Coke Zero does contain a small amount of caffeine. A 12 fl oz can contains 34mg of caffeine. This amount of caffeine is fairly typical of soft drinks. The various Coke Zero Sugar flavors all have the same caffeine content with the exception of the caffeine-free Coke Zero which contains no caffeine.
The FDA recommends a maximum of 400mg of caffeine per day. Given the small amount of caffeine in Coke Zero, you don’t really need to worry that you are going to blow this limit unless you are downing several cups of coffee on top. In fact, you would have to drink 12 cans of Coke Zero Sugar in a day to reach this limit (which isn’t recommended for anyone!).
What Is Caffeine And Why Is It In Coke Zero?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that is commonly associated with coffee but is also present in tea, cocoa beans, kola nuts, and guarana. When caffeine is consumed at high levels such as is present in an energy drink like Monster or coffee it has a stimulant effect. Caffeine works by blocking a neurotransmitter known as Adenosine, which controls the sleep and wake cycles. Given this, caffeine helps you stay alert and focused when taken.
When added to soft drinks like Coke Zero Sugar, it is at a much lower level and is usually added for its flavor properties. Caffeine has a bitter taste which counters the sweeteners added to the drink, giving Coca-Cola its unique taste.
While most people will have no problem consuming the amount of caffeine in a Coke Zero, caffeine can have some side effects if taken in large doses or if a person is sensitive to it. Some of these side effects include anxiousness, jitters, increased heart rate, insomnia, and headaches. If you have experienced these when consuming caffeine it is best to limit your caffeine intake and opt for the caffeine-free Coke Zero.
Comparison To Other Drinks
As you can see from the list below, Coke Zero Sugar contains one of the least amounts of caffeine when compared to other popular soft drinks. Sprite is the obvious exception which contains no caffeine. But drinks like Mountain Dew and Red Bull contain almost twice the amount of caffeine as Coke Zero. Likewise, a similar-sized cup of brewed coffee contains four times the amount of caffeine as Coke Zero.
Diet Coke is a very similar drink to Coke Zero, being both sugar and calorie-free. However, Diet Coke has a slightly different blend of flavors giving it a lighter taste and slightly more caffeine. Some consumers find that Coke Zero tastes closer to the original Coca-Cola, while others swear by Diet Coke.
If you are watching your sugar intake a Coke Zero is a good option. Unlike other sugar-laden fizzy drinks, Coke Zero has no calories, no sugar, and only a small amount of caffeine.
There is, however, some controversy around the use of artificial sweeteners. While both Aspartame and Acesulfame Potassium have been approved by the FDA, some studies indicate they may be carcinogenic. The evidence behind this is however unclear, and it is generally accepted that these artificial sweeteners are safe in the doses commonly consumed. The American Cancer Society has a helpful article summarizing the different research around this if you are interested to learn more.
So like all things, Coke Zero Sugar is best enjoyed in moderation.
Does Coke Zero Have Caffeine -Final Thoughts
So does Coke Zero have caffeine? The answer is yes it does. A 12 oz can of Coke Zero has 34mg of caffeine in it. This amount of caffeine is relatively low compared to other drinks like coffee and is fairly typical of soft drinks. The caffeine gives a slight energy kick but is mainly there for the taste profile, offering a bitter flavor to balance out the sweetness of the drink. While this amount of caffeine is unlikely to cause side effects when consumed in moderation, if you are sensitive to caffeine there is a caffeine-free Coke Zero you could opt for instead.