by Kimberly Allen, RN
Today with so many Americans trying to cut a few calories here and there many are choosing a diet mixer when they have an alcoholic beverage. They are of a mind set that they are cutting calories so that diet rum and coke doesn’t have as many calories as a regular rum and coke does. However, saving yourself those few calories are doing you more harm than good.
First of all remember diet sodas already have issues. For one thing our bodies are unable to correctly interpret the sugar substitutes therefore the stomach doesn’t send the signal to the brain that you’re full. Which in turn allows you to consume more than you need. Now you pair that up with alcohol and you’re asking for trouble.
Alcohol absorption into the bloodstream is impacted by the amount of calories that are also consumed. Most people know that if you eat before going out for a night on the town that it slows the metabolism of the alcohol. The same goes for mixing regular soda or juice with alcohol. The sugar or caloric content of the regular mixer slow the absorption of the alcohol into the blood stream from the stomach.
A recent study done at Northern Kentucky University seemed to confirm what other studies have indicated. People that drink diet mixers with alcohol got drunk faster than those that drank regular mixers with alcohol. As one professor put it your choice of mixer could be”the difference between breaking the law and not breaking the law”. People having the same number of alcoholic beverages in the same time period demonstrated a 20% difference in their breath alcohol levels depending on their mixer. Those that had diet mixers with alcohol had breath alcohol levels 20% higher than those that had regular mixers. So if you are planning on driving and limit your number of drinks to what you believe will keep you under the legal limit and you had diet mixers with your alcohol you could be in trouble.
In addition to checking breath alcohol levels of the study participants researchers also questioned them on how they felt. None of the participants that had the diet drinks felt as if they were more drunk than when they drank regular mixers. This could pose an even bigger problem as they may then feel comfortable consuming more. The fact that they don’t feel any drunker when drinking alcohol with diet mixers than when they drank alcohol with regular mixers appeared to offer some sense of security as they were all willing to drive despite the fact that their breath alcohol levels were above the legal limit.
What is important to remember is it’s not the mixer that causes alcohol intoxication. The mixer can simply determine how rapidly the alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream. Sugar-sweetness, in other words regular soda or juice slow down the rate of absorption of alcohol from the stomach to the bloodstream. When there is no sugar or calories there is nothing to slow the alcohol from being absorbed into the bloodstream. So for those people that don’t eat before heading out on the town and then also mix their alcohol with diet mixers you are at risk for severe intoxication and possibly alcohol poisoning.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.