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Is Mountain Dew Zero Sugar Bad For You?

Also Known As: Diet Mountain Dew



Short answer

While Mountain Dew Zero Sugar offers a calorie-free alternative to regular sodas, its artificial sweeteners—like aspartame and acesulfame potassium—can have mixed health implications, with some studies suggesting potential risks. The beverage's acidity poses a risk to dental health, and its caffeine content may lead to increased heart rate, insomnia, and anxiety in sensitive individuals. It is important to enjoy such drinks in moderation to minimize potential health impacts.



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Long answer

Artificial Sweeteners in Mountain Dew Zero Sugar: Health Implications

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, as a beverage designed to offer the familiar taste of the original Mountain Dew sans the calories, relies on artificial sweeteners to achieve its sweet profile. While these sweeteners contribute to a reduction in sugar and calorie content, their health implications have been a subject of rigorous debate among health professionals and researchers. The primary artificial sweeteners used in this beverage are aspartame and acesulfame potassium.

Aspartame, under the brand names Equal and NutraSweet, has been scrutinized for decades. Despite its approval by the FDA and numerous health authorities worldwide, some studies suggest potential health concerns. On one hand, aspartame has been linked to changes in gut microbiota and glucose intolerance in animal studies (Suez et al., 2014). However, comprehensive reviews have often concluded aspartame to be safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure (Magnuson et al., 2017).

Acesulfame Potassium, also known as Ace-K, is another artificial sweetener that has been approved by the FDA. While considered safe by many health authorities, it's not without its critics. Some research suggests that Ace-K may affect prenatal development and cognitive function (R Sloboda et al., 2017). On the other hand, systematic reviews cite insufficient evidence for these effects and maintain the safety profile of Ace-K in non-pregnant populations (Weihrauch and Diehl, 2004).

Concerns have also been raised about the psychological and behavioral effects of artificial sweeteners. Some experts argue that artificial sweeteners can disrupt the body's ability to regulate energy intake, potentially leading to increased appetite and weight gain over time, although evidence to this end is mixed (Pepino, 2015). Others suggest a possible association between artificial sweetener consumption and metabolic syndrome, often a precursor to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, though causality has yet to be established (Johnson et al., 2019).

It is also essential to consider individual sensitivity and allergies to artificial sweeteners. While rare, some people may experience adverse reactions to aspartame, including headaches, migraines, and dizziness. This is particularly relevant for those with phenylketonuria (PKU), a genetic disorder preventing the metabolism of phenylalanine, a component of aspartame.

As a responsible consumer, it's crucial to weigh the pros and cons of consuming products with artificial sweeteners. While they offer a calorie-free alternative to sugar, understanding their potential health impacts should guide your dietary choices. Regular consumption of drinks like Mountain Dew Zero Sugar may not be problematic for the general population, but individual reactions can vary, and moderation is always key to maintaining a healthy diet. When in doubt, consulting with a healthcare professional for personalized advice is recommended.

Caffeine Levels in Mountain Dew Zero Sugar and Associated Risks

Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants. It makes us feel more awake and less tired, which is why it is often an ingredient in both prescription and non-prescription medications for drowsiness, headaches, and migraines. However, its presence in soft drinks, such as Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, warrants a closer examination of its potential health impacts.

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar contains approximately 68 mg of caffeine per 12 fl oz can. This is relatively high when compared to other sodas, yet lower than most coffee drinks. To put it in perspective, here's a comparison of caffeine levels in different beverages:

Beverage (12 fl oz) Caffeine content (mg)
Mountain Dew Zero Sugar 68
Regular Mountain Dew 54
Coca-Cola 34
Diet Coke 46
Brewed Coffee (8 fl oz) 95-165

While this level of caffeine can provide a temporary energy boost and increase alertness, it's important to consider associated risks, especially for individuals sensitive to caffeine or those consuming multiple caffeinated beverages throughout the day.

Potential risks associated with excessive caffeine intake include:

  • Increased Heart Rate: Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, which can lead to a faster heartbeat. For those with heart conditions, this could exacerbate their issues.
  • Insomnia: Consuming high amounts of caffeine, particularly later in the day, can interfere with sleep patterns, leading to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Anxiety: People particularly sensitive to caffeine may experience heightened anxiety, restlessness, or even panic attacks.
  • Dependency and Withdrawal: Regular intake of caffeine can lead to physical dependency, and withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and irritability when intake is reduced.
  • Gastrointestinal Problems: Caffeine increases stomach acid and could lead to digestive discomfort or exacerbate issues like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Bone Density Impact: There's evidence linking high caffeine consumption to negative impacts on bone density. The diuretic effect of caffeine can lead to the loss of calcium, a key mineral for bone strength.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers 400 milligrams of caffeine per day to be generally safe for most healthy adults. However, individual tolerance to caffeine varies. Some people may experience side effects with even small amounts of caffeine, while others may tolerate caffeine better. Pregnant individuals, children, and those with certain medical conditions should be especially cautious with caffeine intake.

Experts recommend moderation when it comes to caffeine consumption. For those considering Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, it is important to factor in the total daily caffeine intake from all sources to avoid the negative effects associated with excessive consumption. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the intake of caffeinated beverages by children and adolescents.

It's critical to be aware of the caffeine content not just in your cup of coffee but also in soft drinks like Mountain Dew Zero Sugar. Understanding the associated risks can guide individuals in making informed decisions about their caffeine consumption, supporting long-term health and well-being.

Acid Content and its Potential Effects on Dental Health

The acid content in soft drinks, including Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, is a subject of concern when it comes to dental health. These beverages typically contain phosphoric acid and citric acid, which are added to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life. When discussing the potential effects on dental health, it's important to recognize how these acids can interact with our teeth.

Erosive Potential: The pH level of a drink can be a direct indicator of its erosive potential. Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, like many other sugar-free sodas, has a pH well below the critical level of 5.5, which is the point at which enamel begins to demineralize and is at risk for erosion. The low pH of these drinks can cause a gradual weakening of tooth enamel, eventually leading to dental erosion, sensitivity, and cavities.

Counteractive Measures: Fluoride is a key component in combating tooth enamel erosion. The use of fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses can help remineralize enamel before significant damage occurs. However, frequent exposure to acidic beverages can outpace the protective effects of fluoride, making it critical to limit consumption of highly acidic drinks.

Dental Hygiene Practices: Immediate brushing after consuming highly acidic beverages is often discouraged, as the softened enamel can become more susceptible to abrasion. It's recommended to wait at least 30 minutes before tooth brushing to allow time for the enamel to re-harden. Instead, rinsing the mouth with water after drinking acidic beverages can help to neutralize the acid and minimize its effects on the teeth.

A Saliva-Friendly Environment: Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health by neutralizing acids and providing minerals to repair enamel. The mouth's natural response to acidic substances is to increase saliva production. Chewing sugar-free gum can also stimulate saliva flow, helping to counteract the acids present in sugar-free sodas.

Scientific Evidence: Numerous studies have demonstrated the link between consumption of acidic drinks and dental erosion. One such study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association highlighted the erosive potential of various beverages, including sugar-free sodas, and found that they can cause significant enamel loss over time (PMID: 14522753). Another study in General Dentistry emphasized the risk sugar-free sodas pose to dental health, supporting the notion that the absence of sugar does not equate to a lack of adverse effects on teeth (PMID: 21410371).

In conclusion, while sugar may not be a concern in Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, the presence of potentially harmful acids should not be overlooked. Regular consumption can increase the risk of dental health issues, making moderation and vigilant oral hygiene practices essential for those who indulge in these beverages.

Possible Metabolic Effects of Consuming Zero-Sugar Sodas

When considering zero-sugar sodas like Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, it's essential to look beyond the absence of sugar and assess the potential impact on metabolic health. These drinks are commonly sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS), designed to provide a sweet taste without the added calories found in regular sodas. Understanding the metabolic effects of these sweeteners provides insight into the overall implications of consuming zero-sugar beverages.

Insulin Response and Blood Sugar Levels

One of the primary concerns regarding the consumption of zero-sugar sodas is the body's insulin response. Studies are mixed on this issue, with some research indicating that NNS can trigger an insulin response similar to that of sugar due to the sweet taste, potentially leading to insulin resistance over time. However, other studies suggest these responses are minimal in comparison to the ingestion of actual sugar.

Changes in Gut Microbiota

The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in human metabolism, and disruptions in this complex ecosystem can have extensive health implications. Certain non-nutritive sweeteners have been shown to alter the composition and function of the gut microbiota, which in turn may affect glucose metabolism and lead to an increased risk of glucose intolerance.

Impact on Appetite and Cravings

While zero-sugar sodas are positioned as a tool for weight management due to their low-caloric content, there's evidence that NNS may paradoxically lead to increased appetite and cravings for sweet foods. This effect occurs as these sweeteners might decouple the link between sweetness and the caloric content, potentially causing the body to crave more calories after consuming something sweet that has no calories.

Effect on Sweet Taste Perception

Consuming zero-sugar sodas regularly may also influence sweet taste perception, leading individuals to seek out foods with higher sweetness levels to achieve the same taste satisfaction. This increased tolerance for sweetness might encourage higher consumption of both artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages.

Cardiometabolic Health

Although the aim of zero-sugar sodas is to provide a beverage free from the adverse effects associated with sugar, research into the impact on cardiometabolic health has revealed mixed outcomes. Some studies suggest that the consumption of NNS may be linked with metabolic syndrome, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, while other research has not found significant associations between zero-calorie sweetener consumption and metabolic health indicators.

Considerations for Specific Populations

Certain populations, such as people with diabetes, may opt for zero-sugar sodas to help manage blood sugar levels. While this could be a short-term strategy to reduce sugar intake, it's crucial for these individuals to be aware of the potential long-term metabolic effects and discuss alternative options with a healthcare provider.

In summary, while zero-sugar sodas like Mountain Dew Zero Sugar offer a sugar-free alternative to sweetened beverages, it's necessary to consider the broader spectrum of potential metabolic effects associated with non-nutritive sweeteners. Ongoing research is required to clarify these associations and provide more definitive guidance for consumers seeking healthier beverage options.

Comparing Mountain Dew Zero Sugar to Regular Mountain Dew and Diet Mountain Dew

When examining the differences between Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, Regular Mountain Dew, and Diet Mountain Dew, it's crucial to analyze their ingredients and nutritional profiles. The primary distinctions lie in their calorie content, types of sweeteners used, and overall impact on health. Let's break down these differences to better understand each beverage's potential effects on your health.

Calorie Content

Regular Mountain Dew is well-known for its high sugar content, contributing to its calorie density. In contrast, both Mountain Dew Zero Sugar and Diet Mountain Dew are designed to be low-calorie alternatives.

  • Regular Mountain Dew: About 170 calories per 12 oz serving.
  • Diet Mountain Dew: 0 calories per 12 oz serving.
  • Mountain Dew Zero Sugar: 0 calories per 12 oz serving.

Type of Sweeteners

The type of sweetener is a significant factor differentiating these beverages. This choice impacts not only the taste but potential health outcomes associated with consumption.

  • Regular Mountain Dew uses high fructose corn syrup as its primary sweetener, which has been associated with various health issues, including obesity and metabolic disorders when consumed in excess (Source: "Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
  • Diet Mountain Dew utilizes a blend of artificial sweeteners, including aspartame and ace-K, which offer a sweet taste without the added calories. However, there is ongoing debate about the long-term health effects of these compounds (Source: "Aspartame: a safety evaluation based on current use levels, regulations, and toxicological and epidemiological studies," Critical Reviews in Toxicology).
  • Mountain Dew Zero Sugar also contains artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, ace-K, and sucralose, which provide a sweet flavor while keeping the calorie count low. Sucralose, in particular, is recognized for its ability to withstand higher temperatures and has a profile that is closer to sugar in taste (Source: "Sucralose, A Synthetic Organochlorine Sweetener: Overview of Biological Issues," Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health).

Potential Health Impact

Consideration of the potential health impact of these sweeteners and calorie differences is vital for consumers. While the calorie reduction in the zero sugar variants seems beneficial, especially for those managing weight or blood sugar levels, the health implications of artificial sweeteners are mixed and require consideration.

  • Regular Mountain Dew, due to its high sugar content, may contribute to an increased risk of dental cavities, weight gain, and insulin resistance when consumed in high quantities over time (Source: "Added sugars intake across the distribution of US children and adult consumers: 1977-2012," Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).
  • Diet Mountain Dew and Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, while containing no calories, have been linked in some studies to cravings, potential overeating, and disruption of gut microbiota due to their artificial sweeteners. Nonetheless, these effects are not universally agreed upon in the scientific community, and thus moderation is often recommended (Source: "Nonnutritive Sweeteners: Current use and health perspectives," Diabetes Care).

In conclusion, while both diet and zero sugar versions of Mountain Dew provide a lower-calorie alternative to the regular version, their use of artificial sweeteners comes with its own set of considerations. Consumers should weigh the benefits of reduced calorie intake with the complex effects artificial sweeteners may have on overall health, keeping moderation and variety as key components of a balanced diet.

Frequently asked questions

There is evidence that non-nutritive sweeteners, including those found in Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, can alter gut microbiota and potentially disrupt normal gut function. The extent of these changes and the resultant health outcomes can vary among individuals. It's important to maintain a diverse and balanced diet to support gut health, and if there are concerns about artificial sweetener intake, consulting a healthcare provider is advisable.

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, like many other soft drinks, contains phosphoric acid and citric acid, contributing to its erosive potential for dental enamel. Compared to other acidic beverages, sugar-free sodas also fall below the critical pH level of 5.5, risking enamel demineralization. While they may be similar in acidity, the specific content varies among brands and types, underscoring the importance of practicing good oral hygiene and limiting consumption of acidic drinks.

While Mountain Dew Zero Sugar offers a low-calorie alternative to sugary sodas, some research suggests that artificial sweeteners can lead to increased appetite and cravings, which may counteract weight loss efforts. For weight management, it's essential to focus on a balanced diet and consider the role of zero-calorie sweetened beverages within that context. Consulting with a nutritional expert can provide personalized guidance for weight loss goals.

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar is free from sugar, reducing the immediate impact on blood glucose levels compared to regular sodas that contain high levels of sugar. However, some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may affect insulin response and glucose metabolism. Individuals with diabetes should monitor their body's reaction and consult with a healthcare professional to determine if Mountain Dew Zero Sugar is a suitable choice as part of their dietary plan.

Ask a question about Mountain Dew Zero Sugar and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • increased heart rate
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • gastrointestinal issues
  • possible allergic reactions

Possible long-term side effects

  • changes in gut microbiota
  • increased appetite and weight gain
  • metabolic syndrome
  • dental erosion
  • insulin resistance
  • altered gut microbiota
  • increased risk of glucose intolerance
  • cravings for sweeter foods
  • negative impact on bone density
  • possible erosion of enamel

Ingredients to be aware of


  • calorie-free alternative to sugar
  • temporary energy boost
  • increase in alertness

Healthier alternatives

  • water
  • herbal tea
  • natural fruit juices
  • milk
  • coffee in moderation

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Mountain Zevia Soda

  • Zero calorie
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • 12 oz, 24-pack
  • Sugar-free
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-02-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-02-2024

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