A “Healthy Soda” Super-Special: Is Diet Soda Good For You, Stevia DeMystified, Sugar Alcohols, Natural Flavors & More.

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Body, Diet & Nutrition, Nutrition, Podcast, Podcast-new

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

If you happened to watch the most recent Crossfit Games, you may have noticed they were brought to you by…soda.

That's right: a soda company was sponsor of the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games, the worldwide competition to find the Fittest On Earth. Not exactly something you'd associate with Coke or Pepsi or Mountain Dew (or my all-time favorite Dr. Pepper), is it?

The name of the soda company is “Zevia“, and my guest on today's show is Paddy Spence, who is a 23-year veteran of the natural and organic foods industry – a guy who completely cut sugar out from his diet 14 years ago, and a guy who then purchased Zevia, a line of stevia-sweetened sodas that is now the world's top-selling zero-calorie, natural diet soda.

He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters and is an avid athlete, having completed over 40 triathlons and trained in martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, Shotokan Karate and boxing.

During our discussion, you'll discover: 

-How one can make the argument that “caveman drank soda”, and the fascinating history of fermented beverages and soda-like compounds…[12:00]

-How did the name Zevia come to be…[17:30]

-What causes “keto flu” and how to avoid getting it…[21:50]

-Why stevia tastes bitter to some people…[28:05]

-Why Coke's “TruVia” and Pepsi's “PureVia” can actually be very bad for you (and why not all stevia is created equal)…[32:30]

-How sugar alcohols are processed by your body, and the one form of sugar alcohol that won't make you fart…[40:15]

-The little-known fruit grown in the foothills of China that actually does not spike your blood sugar…[42:25]

-Why many natural flavors come from pretty nasty sources, including the anal gland of a beaver…[50:00]

-The big reason you need to avoid anything that lists “caramel color”…[56:45]

-My own personal vodka cocktail mix I use with Creme Soda flavored Zevia, and how my kids make Root Beer Floats with Root Beer flavored Zevia…[59:00]

-Paddy's amazing recipe for a Zevia custard dessert…[61:10]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Zevia soda

Simply Gum

-Here’s the recipe for Banana Swirl, created by Paddy's amazing wife Jerra Spence: 2 frozen bananas, a pinch of cinnamon, and a couple of splashes of Zevia Cream Soda. Combine all of these in a high-powered blender and mix until the bananas are smooth & creamy. Place in freezer for 30-60 minutes. Serve in a dish, possibly with some stevia-sweetened chocolate chips on top!

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Paddy or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

23 thoughts on “A “Healthy Soda” Super-Special: Is Diet Soda Good For You, Stevia DeMystified, Sugar Alcohols, Natural Flavors & More.

  1. nikki says:

    I see you regularly recommend Zevia as a “healthy” soda alternative. I noticed the ingredients contain “natural flavors” which are highly processed and contain many chemical additives. Why do you continue to recommend Zevia even though they continue to use the ingredient “natural flavors”?

  2. Dann Bush says:

    Was really interesting…..he had me going till the GMO drivel came out of his mouth. Tough to believe anything else he says now.

  3. Jackie says:

    Ben/Paddy – a really interesting podcast. However, I live in the UK and I’ve just taken a look and although it’s for sale on Amazon.co.uk, it’s really expensive. Are there any distributors in the UK?

  4. Andrew Gee says:


    Any ideas for Stockists for Zevia in the UK – emailed Paddy’s Company to no avail.

  5. Sarah says:

    Ben, do you have any resources for getting through the Keto flu? I’m trying to lower my carb intake but I’m really afraid of the Keto flu- I remember going low carb a few years ago and it was really bad. Help!

  6. Oscar says:

    So I found some Zevia Ginger Root beer for a good deal and got to try it. For not having drank soda in for 3+ years now, I did miss the taste and I thought it tasted like an old can of A&W root beer. My family enjoyed the taste too so I will be buying them more often. I wasn’t aware of PureVia being owned by Pepsi, I knew of TruVia being owned by Coca Cola and the way they process stevia. There’s a few other brands that I’ve ran into. “Stevia in the Raw”, “Wholesome Organic Stevia”, and maybe 1 or 2 others. Are there any other particular stevia brands that can be trusted and that you or Paddy personally use? Thanks.

    1. The one I recommend is Zevia..

  7. Carine says:

    Hi Ben,

    How does Simply Gum compare to PUR Gum? Thanks!

    1. CWells says:

      Clearly I’m not Ben, but a simple google search rendered me this results:

      PUR GUM Ingredients: xylitol, gum base, gum arabic, glycerol, natural flavors, malic acid, citric acid, carnauba wax, tocopherols

      Simply Gum Ingredients

      Organic raw cane sugar, natural chicle base (chicle, candelilla wax, citrus acid), natural flavor, organic vegetable glycerin, organic rice flour

  8. nauzy says:

    Thank you again for a great show. I wanted to let you both know I have done extensive research on natural flavorings and they pretty much all act on the GAD gene, meaning they are all one form or another of glutamic acid, which most people have some form of SNP for. Especially if there has been a history of heart disease, diabetes, alzheimers, ADHD, neuro degerative disorders and sleep disorders. There a plenty of research that I’d be happy to send you . I love the idea of such products and like to support this industry and promote these products and I wonder if there are other ways of creating propriety formulations without adding so called natural favoring that even a ADHD child could consume with no side effects? How about adding a blend of essential oils as in edible aromatherapy of herbs and spices?

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Cheers and keep up the great work…

  9. Chris Lyans says:

    Awesome interview! I don’t drink a lot of soda, but when I do it’s Zevia… When they got rid of caramel color I was pretty upset, I guess that’s addiction to chemicals speaking. I voiced my opinion and they sent me a free case. Great company, so happy they keep improving for our benefit.

  10. Vince says:

    Interesting podcast, but I will stick to drinking water.

    Regards Vince

  11. William says:

    Hi Ben,

    Have you ever tried making naturally fermented soda using a ginger bug?

    The process is very similar to sourdough, where you develop a starter by mixing shredded ginger and water fed regularly with sugar and water until natural bacteria develop carbonation. Once it starts bubbling you can add it to virtually any fruit juice (tangy fruits recommended) and let it ferment for a few days to your desired level of carbonation. I’ve made concord grape, rhubarb, peach, among many others.

    1. Donna says:

      I never liked ginger beer until I tried some that was made this way. Now I love it! I never mixed it with any other fruit juice. But it’s a great fermented soda. I always wonder with natural ferments like this, water kefir and kombucha, just how much sugar I am actually getting though. I prefer natural ferments to carbonation. I know the more sour, less sweet it is the less sugar it has. But I’d like to know the actual amounts.

    2. This is really cool! Thanks for sharing! I haven't tried it.

  12. Todd says:

    Hi Ben,

    Simply Gum DOES NOT use stevia. Sorry to burst your bubble.



    1. Donna says:

      Yes, I just looked at the ingredients listing on Amazon. The first ingredient is Organic Raw Cane sugar, and it looks like that is the only sweetener. :(

  13. CJ says:

    I was hoping there would be another sugar alcohol you would mention that doesn’t cause stomach upset…I must be the exception because erythritol makes my stomach more upset than any other of the sugar alcohols. Very sad because it’s in quest bars and kill cliff but every time I try one its just no good. :(

    1. You should look into a leaky gut test or the possibility of SIBO. Check out this article on how to fix your gut: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/07/how-to-f…

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