Diet Soda May Be the More Dangerous Alcohol Mixer
Cutting calories with diet soda may seem like a good idea -- as long as it's not at a bar.
A new study released in the journal Alcoholism suggests that cutting
alcoholic drinks with diet soda makes them more potent than using their
full-calorie counterparts. Specifically, researchers found that mixing
alcohol with diet (sugar-free) soft drinks resulted in a higher breath
alcohol content than mixing alcohol with a regular (sugar-sweetened)
"The results were surprising," said Cecile A. Marczinski, assistant
professor in the department of psychological science at Northern
Kentucky University, and one of the lead investigators of the study.
Researchers served one of three beverages: vodka added to a diet drink,
vodka added to a regular drink or a regular soft drink with a vodka
scent added so that participants would believe it was an alcoholic
beverage. They then sat back while the subjects enjoyed their cocktails.
Those participants drinking the vodka-diet drink cocktails had a
significantly higher breath alcohol content and had the highest degree
of behavioral impairment among the groups, the study found.
"We are talking about significant differences here," Marczinski said.
"Participants who drank diet soda with vodka had blood alcohol contents
as high as 18 percent more than when sugar-containing mixers were used."
The theory behind this is that sugar-containing drinks stimulate the
stomach much like a meal does. Having some food in your stomach delays
stomach emptying, thus delaying absorption of alcohol into the
bloodstream. The result is that drinkers get a less-potent hit of
alcohol in their systems after drinking.
"This is why southern European countries have lower rates of alcoholism
despite their increased alcohol intake," said Petros Levounis, director
of the Addiction Institute of New York, who was not involved in the
study. "They always drink while eating."
Diet beverages, since they contain no sugar, do not trigger the stomach
to delay emptying, allowing alcohol to reach the bloodstream more
"The choice of what you mix your alcohol with can make a difference,"
Marczinski said, adding that there may even be potentially harmful
consequences for those who regularly request a diet soda with their
"In the long run, it's more harmful for your body to be exposed to a
higher alcohol concentration than a few extra calories," she said.
But not all alcohol experts agree that going diet with your cocktails is
all that different. Boris Tabakoff, a professor of pharmacology at the
University of Colorado School of Medicine, pointed to the fact that
study subjects drank the equivalent of three to four drinks over a
"Few if any bars will serve you a drink that strong," he said. "If you
want to chug your alcohol to the point of consuming the equivalent of
three to four drinks in five minutes, you should not worry about
Tabakoff further pointed out that calorie-conscious drinkers might do
better simply to limit their alcohol intake, noting that alcohol, too,
is packed with calories.
Edited by SamoneLenior - Feb 06 2013 at 11:34am