Calories in Soda: The Ultimate Guide

Many traditional sodas contain a full day's worth of added sugars.
Image Credit: tongpatong/iStock/GettyImages

Here's an interesting fact: Soda is the top source of calories and added sugar in the average American's diet, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). A typical 12-ounce can of soda contains about 150 calories and 40 grams of sugar (or 10 teaspoons), per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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That's ​a lot​ of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends getting no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day. And eating large amounts of added sugar frequently can contribute to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

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So if you're trying to reduce your caloric intake, limiting sugary drinks like soda and juice is a good place to start because they contain little to no nutritional value beyond calories.

Before cracking open a can, check out this guide to the sugar and calories in soda.

Calories and Sugar in Common Sodas

Soda ​(per 12 oz.)

Calories

Sugar

Coke

140

39 g, 78% Daily Value (DV)

Diet Coke

0

0 g

Coke Zero Sugar

0

0 g

Pepsi

150

41 g, 83% DV

Diet Pepsi

0

0 g

Pepsi Zero Sugar

0

0 g

Sprite

140

38 g, 76% DV

Sprite Zero Sugar

0

0 g

Ginger Ale

140

35 g, 70% DV

Orange Soda

160

44 g, 89% DV

Root Beer

160

44 g, 89% DV

Club Soda

0

0 g

Coke

Coke is essentially carbonated water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors and caffeine are also added.

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A 12-ounce can of Coke contains:

  • Calories:​​ 140
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 45 mg, 2% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 39 g, 13% DV
    • ​Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​ 39 g, 78% DV
  • Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Caffeine:​ 34 mg

There are 140 calories in a can of Coke as well as 39 grams of carbs, according to Coca-Cola. There are 187 calories in a 16-ounce Coke, as well as 52 grams of carbs — that's almost 10 percent of the total calorie intake for someone who eats 2,000 calories per day. The calories in Coke come from sugar, so you're not gaining nutritional value from the drink.

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Diet Coke

Diet Coke is the calorie-free version of Coca-Cola. According to the Diet Coke website, a 12-ounce can contains:

  • Calories:​​ 0
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 40 mg, 2% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​​Total carbohydrates:​​ 0 g
    • ​Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​ 0 g, 0% DV
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Potassium:​ 39.6 mg, 1% DV
  • Caffeine:​ 46 mg

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Diet Coke's ingredients include carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, citric acid and caffeine.

Warning

Some diet sodas — including Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Zero Sugar and Sprite Zero Sugar — have the artificial sweetener aspartame, which contains phenylalanine, an amino acid. Although phenylalanine is safe for most people, those with the metabolic condition phenylketonuria, or PKU, should avoid diet sodas because the compound can cause serious health issues, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar

A more recent spin-off to Diet Coke, Coke Zero Sugar is marketed as a calorie-free soda but with the same look and taste as regular Coke, per Coca-Cola. Coca‑Cola Zero hit shelves in 2006 and Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar replaced it in 2016.

A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar contains:

  • Calories:​​ 0
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 40 mg, 2% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 0 g
    • ​Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​​ 0 g, 0% DV
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Potassium:​ 60 mg, 2% DV
  • Caffeine:​ 34 mg

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar's ingredients are similar to Diet Coke's — it contains carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, potassium citrate, acesulfame potassium and caffeine, according to Coca-Cola.

Pepsi

Pepsi is Coke's biggest rival (the Cola Wars is a real thing!) — and it's higher in calories and sugar than its main competition.

A 12-ounce can of Pepsi contains:

  • Calories:​​ 150
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 30 mg, 2% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 41 g, 15% DV
    • Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​​ 41 g, 83% DV
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Phosphorus:​ 50 mg, 4% DV
  • Caffeine:​ 38 mg

Pepsi's nutrition facts show that a 16-ounce bottle has 200 calories and 55 grams of sugar.

This soft drink is a mix of carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sugar, phosphoric and citric acids, natural flavors and caffeine.

Diet Pepsi

Diet Pepsi is the sugar-free alternative to the popular soft drink Pepsi, and it's also Diet Coke's rival. Like most diet sodas, due to the use of the low-calorie sweetener aspartame, Diet Pepsi doesn't contain the high amount of sugar found in regular sodas.

Here's a look at the Diet Pepsi nutrition facts per 12-ounce can:

  • Calories:​​ 0
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 35 mg, 2% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 0 g
    • Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​​ 0 g, 0% DV
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Phosphorous:​ 30 mg, 2% DV
  • Potassium:​ 39.6 mg, 1% DV
  • Caffeine:​ 35 mg

Without calories, fat, carbohydrates and protein, the soda has to get its flavor from somewhere. Diet Pepsi's ingredients include carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, caffeine, citric acid and natural flavors. Each ingredient plays a role in the overall flavor, and potassium benzoate preserves freshness.

The soft drink also contains phenylalanine. A reminder: That means people who have the metabolic condition phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid diet sodas.

Pepsi Zero Sugar

Pepsi Max rebranded as Pepsi Zero Sugar in 2016, but its recipe hasn't changed, CNBC reports. Pepsi Zero Sugar is a sugar-free, zero-calorie cola sweetened with aspartame, per PepsiCo.

A 12-ounce can of Pepsi Zero Sugar contains:

  • Calories:​​ 0
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 40 mg, 2% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 0 g
    • ​Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​​ 0 g
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Phosphorous:​ 50 mg, 4% DV
  • Caffeine:​ 69 mg

Pepsi Zero Sugar's ingredients include carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, potassium benzoate, caffeine, natural flavors, acesulfame potassium, citric acid, calcium disodium EDTA and Panax ginseng root extract. It may contain phenylalanine.

Sprite

Sprite is a popular lemon-lime soda manufactured by Coca-Cola — it's their second-largest global brand.

A 12-ounce can of Sprite contains:

  • Calories:​​ 140
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 65 mg, 3% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 38 g
    • ​Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​​ 38 g, 76% DV
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Iron:​ 0.4 mg, 2% DV
  • Calcium:​ 7.4 mg, 1% DV
  • Caffeine:​ 0 mg

A look at Sprite's nutritional information shows that a 12-ounce can contains 140 calories and 38 grams of sugar. Regular Sprite contains 7 percent of the recommended total daily calorie intake on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Sprite is a mix of carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium citrate and sodium benzoate, according to the Sprite website.

Sprite Zero Sugar

What was once Diet Sprite is now Sprite Zero Sugar — a lemon-lime diet soda that tastes like regular Sprite. Sprite Zero Sugar is produced by Coca-Cola and doesn't contain any calories, just like the other sugar-free sodas on this list.

A 12-ounce can of Sprite Zero Sugar contains:

  • Calories:​​ 0
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 35 mg, 2% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 0 g
    • Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​​ 0 g
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Caffeine:​ 0 mg

Carbonated water, citric acid and natural flavors are the first three Sprite Zero ingredients and are responsible for flavor and color. Potassium citrate and potassium benzoate are preservatives that protect the taste and aspartame and acesulfame potassium are artificial sweeteners, according to Sprite. It also may contain phenylalanine.

Ginger Ale

Canada Dry Ginger Ale might be the soda your mom and grandmother gave you for your upset stomach, but while this classic does use real ginger, ginger ale is not nutritionally superior to other sodas.

A 12-ounce can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has:

  • Calories:​​ 140
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 50 mg, 2% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 36 g, 12% DV
    • Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​​ 35 g, 70% DV
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Caffeine:​ 0 mg

Canada Dry Ginger Ale is a combo of carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, and less than 2 percent of ginger extract, natural flavors, citric acid, sodium benzoate and caramel color. Canada Dry Ginger Ale doesn't have caffeine, but other brands might.

There Aren't Any Canada Dry Ginger Ale Benefits

Various studies show that ginger root helps with nausea and vomiting, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Ginger is also known to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor and anti-ulcer properties. But there may be too little ginger in Canada Dry Ginger Ale for it to actually be beneficial. Also, a sweetened, carbonated soft drink may make bloating, gas or indigestion worse.

Orange Soda

Fanta, a Coca-Cola brand, makes a variety of fruit-flavored sodas, and its orange bottle is a fan-favorite. Like many other soft drinks, Fanta Orange has many calories with little to no nutritional benefits.

A 12-ounce can of Fanta Orange has:

  • Calories:​​ 160
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 55 mg, 2% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 44 g, 16% DV
    • Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​​ 44 g, 89% DV
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Caffeine:​ 0 mg

Fanta nutrition facts show that a 12-ounce bottle has 160 calories and 44 grams of carbs while a 16.9-ounce bottle has 220 calories and 80 grams of carbs, according to Fanta's website. It doesn't contain any fat, cholesterol, protein or fiber, but has 55 milligrams of sodium in 12 ounces and 80 milligrams in 16.9 ounces.

Fanta Orange calories come mostly from sugar (there are 44 grams of sugar in Fanta). This orange soda is a mix of carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzoate, natural flavors, modified food starch, sodium polyphosphates, glycerol ester of rosin, yellow 6 and red 40. It's also caffeine-free.

Root Beer

People have been enjoying Barq's Root Beer, a Coca-Cola brand, since 1898. But of course, like the rest of the sodas on this list, drinking root beer can add calories and sugar to your day.

One 12-ounce can of Barq's Root Beer has:

  • Calories:​​ 160
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 65mg, 3% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 44 g, 16% DV
    • ​Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​​ 44 g, 89% DV
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Caffeine:​ 22 mg

Barq's Root Beer nutrition facts panel shows that a 12-ounce can contains 160 calories and 44 grams of sugar, while a 16.9-ounce bottle has 230 calories and 62 grams of sugar. It doesn't contain any fat, cholesterol, protein or fiber, but has 65 milligrams of sodium in 12 ounces and 90 milligrams in 16.9 ounces.

This classic, sweet soda contains carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sodium benzoate, citric acid, caffeine (22 milligrams in 12 ounces), artificial and natural flavors and acacia. Barq's Root Beer calories come from sugar.

Club Soda

There's no sugar in club soda, which means it's a great bubbly alternative to H2O. Drink it plain or add your favorite fresh fruits for a little variety.

A 12-ounce glass of club soda contains the following, according to the USDA:

  • Calories:​​ 0
  • ​Total fat:​​ 0 g
  • ​Cholesterol:​​ 0 mg
  • ​Sodium:​​ 74.6 mg, 3% Daily Value (DV)
  • ​Total carbohydrates:​​ 0 g
    • Dietary fiber:​​ 0 g
    • Sugar:​​ 0 g, 0% DV
  • ​Protein:​​ 0 g
  • Calcium:​ 17.8 mg, 1% DV
  • Potassium:​ 7.1 mg, 0% DV
  • Caffeine:​ 0 mg

There are zero calories in club soda, so it's a good base for low-calorie flavored drinks. Add lemon or lime wedges for a refreshing citrus drink, or flavor your club soda with cubes of fresh watermelon.

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