Q: What is the difference between Coke Life and regular Coca Cola?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Wednesday, 09 March 2016.
Tagged: Calories, dieting, diets, drinks, soft drinks, sugar, sugary drinks

Q: What is the difference between Coke Life and regular Coca Cola?

A. Coke Life, is a bit of a marketing ploy really. It delivers a modest reduction in sugar compared with regular Coke and has a tenth of the sodium (a good thing) but the name, combined with the green colour on the label, would like you to think it’s eco-healthy and life-affirming, something it isn’t.

Let’s take a closer look

Coke Life contains 17g of sugar per 250 ml glass; Coke regular contains 27g for the same glass. Yes it’s 10 g less but that glass of Coke Life still contains over 4 teaspoons of sugar!

When the World Health Organization is telling us that our sugar consumption should be just 12 teaspoons per day and that additional benefits would accrue if we to cut our sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons a day then you can see the problem. Especially if you drink a 375ml can. Drink one of those and you’ve exceeded your 6 teaspoons.

Ingredients

Ingredients in Coca Cola regular

Carbonated purified water, cane sugar, colour (caramel 150d), food acid 338, flavour, caffeine.

Ingredients in Coke Life

Carbonated water, sugar, colour (150d), flavour, food acid (338), caffeine, sweetener (960).

An interesting side note

Although we’ll never know by how much, the quantity of ‘flavour’ in the ingredients differs. As the ingredients have to be placed in order or descending quantity we can surmise that there is more ‘flavour’ added to Coke Life as it is the 4th ingredient as opposed to being the 5th ingredient in Coke regular.

Maybe this is to try to cover the taste of the Stevia which is used to make up for the sugar they’ve removed.

Additive code number 960 is stevia which has risen in popularity as a ‘natural’ sweetener in contrast to the aspartame (951) and acesulphame K (950) used in other diet drinks.

Stevia is often blended with sugar to create a sugar-like taste but with fewer kilojoules (Calories). Think of light iced teas and other stevia-sweetened beverages.

Nutrition

  Coke Life Coke Life Coke Regular Coke Regular

Avg Qty

per serving
(250ml glass)

per 100ml 

per serving
(250ml glass)

per 100ml

 Energy

285kJ

68Cal

114kJ

27Cal 

450kJ

108Cal 

180kJ

43Cal 

 Protein  0g  0g  0g  0g
 Fat    - total  0g  0g  0g  0g
            - saturated  0g  0g  0g  0g
 Carbohydrates  17g  6.6g  27g  10.6g
 Sugars  17g  6.6g  27g  10.6g
 Dietary Fibre  0g  0g  0g  0g
 Sodium  2.5mg  1.0mg 25mg   10mg

Figures from the Coke website.

If you’re serious about sugar

There are two other variants of Coke that have no sugar at all – Coke Zero and Diet Coke. You can check out the differences between these two here.

The bottom line

The differences between Coke Life and Coke Regular are largely marketing led. A green ‘wholesome’ label versus a red one. The word “Life” attached to the brand name.

The actual differences are:

  • slightly more added ‘flavour’
  •  a bit less sugar 
  • a tenth of the sodium and
  • the addition of some Stevia.

As for the taste, checkout the post we did on a blind taste test of Coke drinkers between Coke Life and Coke Regular.

The bottom line

As a nutritionist I can’t advocate for Coke however little sugar it has and I’m sure dentists will agree. Its acidic profile (from the food acid 338 which is phosphoric acid) means that it can be harmful to the enamel of your teeth.

In additives, both Cokes are a source of added caffeine which we don’t need any more of in our already-overstimulated lives.

However, if you are a Coke drinker, then make it a treat and drink it sparingly. It shouldn’t be an everyday food, whatever its sugar content, and this is especially true for kids.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.