Diet Mixed Drinks Get You Drunker

Craving a stiff drink, without the extra calories? Don’t mix with a diet soda. Alcohol combined with diet drinks significantly increases your levels of intoxication compared to cocktails made with non-diet beverages, according to a new study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

In other words, you’ll find yourself drunker than you’d expect after sipping on the same number of drinks—which could have some seriously risky (and just plain embarrassing) implications.

To reach that conclusion, investigators asked 16 men and women over a series of three sessions to drink various doses of vodka combined with diet or non-diet soda. A control group also consumed beverages made without any alcohol at all. After each participant indulged in three or four drinks, researchers recorded their breath alcohol concentration (BAC), and asked for their self-reported ratings of intoxication, fatigue, and willingness to get behind the wheel of a car. Then, they compared those self-reported ratings to participants’ actual abilities when performing various tasks.

Unfortunately for the low-cal cocktail fans among us, those consuming diet drinks had higher breath alcohol levels than their peers—even when both groups consumed the same quantity of vodka. Even worse? The diet drinkers were unaware that they were any drunker than their fellow participants . . . meaning they felt equally capable of driving themselves home.

You’re probably well aware that a solid meal can blunt the intoxicating impact of a few drinks. As it turns out, sweetened beverages do the same thing: Even in a liquid form, sugar slows the rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream, researchers note. Artificial sweeteners, however, don’t have the same effect.

So how can you drink up safely, but still avoid sky-high calorie counts? Well, drinking in moderation is a good place to start: Alcohol is calorie-dense, and too much of it poses health risks more severe than a bigger waistline. When you do drink, don’t skip dinner or guzzle a tall glass of vodka sans mixer.

Have questions? Tweet @KrisSanchez!

(via MensHealth)

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