Zevia – Review of Diet Colas (Splenda or Stevia sweetened)

I have previously reviewed Splenda-sweetened cola-flavored soda, but I thought I had better make an updated video yesterday.  What prompted the video was finally testing what to some is the pinnacle of soda – soda sweetened by Stevia.  Would the flavor match the hype?  Did Zevia beat Coke and Pepsi to the crown of first great tasting Stevia soda?

The reality however fell short of the hype.  Unlike the latest Stevia extracts like rebiana-based Truvia and Purevia, which have none of the herbal harshness of original herb, the Zevia cola had a very bitter or herbal aftertaste.  It was very pronounced despite listing Reb A (presumably a Stevia Extract) on the ingredients label rather than straight Stevia.  It also featured nutmeg oil on the label, which was a bit offputting as well.  (Note:  Hansen Diet Soda also featured nutmeg, and we know all well I liked that.)  Zevia also had a sizeable erythritol component too, but I couldn’t taste any cooling affect at all.

For me, it is back to waiting on Coke and Pepsi to release a soda from a Stevia extract that I actually like.

9 comments to Zevia – Review of Diet Colas (Splenda or Stevia sweetened)

  • Kent, I’m assuming Splenda or Stevia is better for you than aspartame. Why is that? Aren’t all artifical sweetners sorta bad?

    • admin

      None of them (artificial sweeteners) are necessarily great, and mostly represent crutches to past behaviors or past tastes. That is one reason Dr. Atkins limited all of them to no more than 3x or 3 servings per day. (What a serving isn’t necessarily defined, but I have always understood it to be a serving of the end product.) The reason aspartame is targeted with caution or more bad is primarily for two reasons (maybe three if you press me):

      * Dr. Atkins noted that it caused stalls in about 25% of his patients, which other sweeteners at the time — Splenda, Saccharin, and Stevia did not. He proposed a supposition that the aspartame was more likely causing a cephalic insulin dump based upon the brain recognizing the food as sweet and therefore needing insulin to digest. Perhaps, it is due to aspartame being a million times sweeter than sugar. I personally have done my own testing with Splenda and do not find a insulin or blood glucose result from its consumption. I have not tested aspartame personally though, so I can’t verify the premise.

      * The second reason I prefer Stevia and sucralose sodas is I do use the soda occassionally as shortcuts in cooking. For instance, my diet coke (or cola) wings could not be made with aspartame because it is not heat stable. Heat aspartame up, and it just gets nasty. Diet cola and ketchup also make a passable BBQ sauce. Granted if one is trying for primal cooking, this would not be ingredients you’d use.

      * The final nail in the aspartame coffin IMO is the greater preponderance of reputable questions of safety on aspartame. I believe there are certain people who are sensitive to Splenda and some other products, but the evidence for a safe ADI for sucralose is pretty reliable. There are enough questions with aspartame and with the other cautions that it has fallen into my more trouble or questions than they’re worth category.

      I also talk about this topic in this video perhaps with more coherency or completeness – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgc9PBtm1Lo .

  • jo

    Hey kent do you limit yourself to 1-2 cokes a day? Or do you just have one once in awhile ? I find if I am wanting something sweet I can drink about 1/2 a can and it pretty much does the trick .
    Also another queston that has nothing to do with drinks but on 1200-1500 calories a day should I be getting 50-70 grams of fat is that correct ? Thanks for all you do !

    • admin

      I try to stick to 2-3 per day. This is typically the only artificial sweetener I have in a day, but ideally it would be more once in awhile. I am entirely sensitive to the paleo approach and eating and especially drinking less, but I am in perhaps still working out what is acceptable vs. perfection within one’s diet. While the definition of perfect varies (I would classify 100% paleo low carb with 100% home made, local grown and eaten food), I don’t think it is possible for most. I do think the acceptable range is much broader and varies per person. For example, how much caffeine is acceptable might vary per person. I hope that helps. Complicated subject that might be easier to explain in person than typing it out. 🙂

      As for Caloric intake, let me first say I don’t believe in the new 1200-1500 Calorie recommendation in the new book. I think it ignores a lot of variability of people and their exercise activity. I also thinks it perpetuates the torture of monitoring Calories, which never worked for me or many people to lose weight. That said, let’s assume it does work for people to artificially or externally limit their diet to 1200-1500 Calories, that would make 86g – 108g per day the desired amount (65% Calories should be from Fat, 1200 * .65 = 780 Calories / 9 (1g of Fat = 9 Calories) = 86.666g

  • new book?

    I tracked my nutrition for 2 months earlier this year. I consumed on average 125 grams of fat per day and averaged about 2000 calories per day. The other daily calories came from on average 70 grams carbs and 145 grams protein. During those two months, my body weight dropped from on average 189 lbs to 180 lbs. I’m 5’10” male and work on office job. My only form of exercise during those 2 months were daily 30-45 minute walks.

    Then, I stopped tracking the grams and after another 2 months, I gained 5 lbs back, even though I perceived not to change my diet. But I must have either eaten more carbs or calories or both. Now I’m back to tracking the grams. We’ll see what happens. I still haven’t got my head around “calories in/calories out” out being wrong. It seems to me that it is justified, even when restricting carbs. I don’t think Taubes said he didn’t believe that the first law of thermodynamics is true, just that it’s not specificaly the answer why we get fat. I’ll stop now, this is turning into a post.

    • admin

      The new book comment refers to 2010 – New Atkins, New You book as opposed to the last Dr. Atkins written book — Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution (2002/3 version is the one I followed). There are a few differences between the two books (like one allows almond milk on Induction), but the two big differences is how they refer to Calories (the new book says a woman should eat roughly 1200-1500 Calories on Induction, and the old one said eat roughly when you are legitimately hungry and let the appetite suppression and your body determine your intake, ignore Calories with exception to prevent starvation mode dieting) and Vegetables. The new book says eat 12-15g of carbs from veggies each day irregardless of volume and type of veggies, and the old book was 3 cups of veggies per day (3 from salad veggies, or 2 cups of salad and 1 cup of “Other Veggies”)

      I don’t think the laws of thermodynamics are necessarily invalid. I just don’t think tracking the fuel entering your body has a direct analogy as gas entering your car. You may be driving a Ferrari engine one day or a Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle engine, and the consumption will vary with difficult to read outward appearances to determine which ones, This is probably jaded by my experiences on low calorie diets (1500 Calorie/Day) with little success, and finally succeeding once I ate ad libitum (with tracked days well over 3000 Calories even 4000) on low carb. I am somewhat less the scientist in this situation as the metabolic pathways or the reasons for the metabolic advantage are interesting but perhaps not pertinent for computer engineer. The fact I was able to get there was enough to me. 🙂

      I do think Taubes and the new science of low carb diets by Phinney are good reads to convince yourself that there is science behind it and eliminate the self-doubt that it is just a sham or snake oil.

  • What I find interesting about the low carb nutritional approach is that there seem to be plenty of examples of folks that have gone from obese to slightly overweight, but not quite all the way to skinny. Maybe folks become content with dramatic weight loss and those last 20 pounds or so are too difficult to lose, or require a new strategy like calorie restriction or expenditure?

    • admin

      I think the incidence of slightly overweight as being a non-issue as I have seen many people reportedly lose the final 20 pounds or only have 20-40 pounds be successful on Atkins. As for why the severely obese accept slightly overweight weight, perhaps it is due to desire to be skinny. Does one need to have a 30″ waist is a 34-36″ waist with 36″ inseam sufficient? I think it comes down to passion. Are the problems that originally caused them to lose weight gone? Probably. Are they likely able to do everything they want at their current weight? Does vanity mean you have to be model skinny (in CarbSane terms) to be healthy functioning human being?

      Many times the severely obese person is not looking to be skinny or a model, but desires to no longer have weight be an issue in their life. Maybe it is external world ideals that demands the final 20 pounds be lost not an internal desire. Now this is coming from a guy who has lost 211 pounds and accepts being 225-235 as being normal. I know other 6’4″ guys who have dropped to below 200 pounds and are thinner than I. Should I drop to their level, work to achieve my buddy’s 7-8% body fat, spend his time in gym, or eat his diet (6 small low fat, low carb meals)? Sorry, I just don’t feel the desire, and I don’t think that non-desire reflects on my diet of choice or even on myself. My desires are differently than his — being married, having 4 kids, and pretty invested volunteer life. I don’t think I am better or worse than him for it — just differently motivated.

      Hope this makes sense, and it is more reflection of carb sanity HAES series than anything else, and really should be a blog post than a rambling reply.

  • Maureen

    Hi Kent,
    I cannot find Coke with splenda. I googled it and it said they discontinued it in 2007. Have they brought it back in a limited market maybe?
    Also, we have Diet Rite brand here. The cola is so-so but they make a lot of flavors. My favorite is tangerine. Good flavor and added to a vanilla protein shake tastes like an orange creamsicle.
    Thanks for the reviews!


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