Alcohol and diet soda may be a bad mix
February 5th, 2013
04:04 PM ET

Alcohol and diet soda may be a bad mix

Saving calories at the bar may not be a good thing.

Researchers gave college students vodka drinks with regular soda and with diet soda, and the diet soda group got more intoxicated, faster - about 20%  more intoxicated than those who mixed regular soda with liquor, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Sugar in your mixed drink actually slows down the effects of alcohol, researchers say.

The study
Though it was a very small study, only eight women and eight men, the findings closely match previous research linking diet drinks and increased alcohol levels in the body.

Scientists at Northern Kentucky University asked students who were social drinkers to come to their lab on separate days to test the effects of alcohol. During one visit, the students drank vodka with diet soda and at another session they mixed the vodka with a sugar-sweetened soft drink. Each beverage had the potency of about four mixed drinks, a dose that has been shown to raise blood alcohol levels to about the legal driving limit. At each visit, the students downed their drink in about 10 minutes.

The results
Using breath tests to measure alcohol levels, researchers found that students who drank vodka and regular soda registered just under the legal limit. But drinking the vodka-diet soda mixture tipped students over the limit.

"What you choose to mix your alcohol with could possibly be the difference between breaking or not breaking the law," says study author Cecile Marczinski, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Science at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky.

The students also completed computer tasks testing their reaction times, mimicking what they might face while driving. Those drinking the diet soda were slower to react.

But the students said they felt the same no matter what they drank, even though tests showed the diet drinkers were about one-fifth more intoxicated. To put that in perspective, you'd have to add almost a whole other shot of vodka to the sugar-sweetened drink to equal the potency of the diet drink mixture.

"The subjects were unaware of this difference, as measured by various subjective ratings including feelings of intoxication, impairment, and willingness to drive," says Marczinski.

Another study measuring alcohol levels in people leaving bars or night clubs also found that diet soda/liquor drinkers were more impaired.

"Marczinski's findings are very consistent with what we've found in the field in a natural drinking environment. When the mixer is diet soda, the bar patrons tend to have somewhat higher intoxication levels than when they consume regular soda," says Dennis Thombs, professor and chair of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health, School of Public Health at the University of North Texas in Fort Worth.

People often mix diet soda and alcohol to save on calories. And women make this choice more than men. But Marczinski says it's not worth the trade-offs."It's much more harmful to the brain, to your liver, if you have a higher blood alcohol level. A few extra calories is not going to make that much difference (in your weight)," says Marczinski. In her study, students drinking the diet mixture only reduced their calorie count by 130.

What's the buzz?
Why do people get more intoxicated when they go for diet instead of regular soda with their booze? It has to do with digestion. The diet soda mixture passes quickly through the stomach, putting alcohol into our bloodstream faster.

That's not the case with regular soda and liquor. Experts say the stomach treats this combination as if it's food. Digestion slows everything down, delaying the release of alcohol into our system, and spreading it out over a longer period of time.

Take home
"I think the takeaway from this study is, don't trust your judgment about intoxication levels, you may be off," says Marczinski. "And many times people think they're safe to drive and they are in fact not."

soundoff (746 Responses)
  1. Forklift Parts Orange County


    May 6, 2021 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Forklift Service Orange County

    I absolutely love your blog.. Great colors & theme. Did you create this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own site and want to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Thanks!


    May 6, 2021 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Forklift Cylinders

    Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful post. Thank you for providing these details.


    May 6, 2021 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. driving school near me

    I enjoy looking through an article that can make people think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!


    May 6, 2021 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. rv repair riverside ca

    Your style is unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this blog.


    May 6, 2021 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Used Forklifts

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post plus the rest of the website is really good.


    May 6, 2021 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Dunkel Beer


    May 6, 2021 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. bitcoin atm near me


    May 7, 2021 at 04:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. rv service and repair near me

    Your style is unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.


    May 7, 2021 at 06:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Used Forklift Service California

    After going over a few of the blog posts on your blog, I really like your technique of writing a blog. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website too and let me know how you feel.


    May 7, 2021 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Brewery Boise


    May 7, 2021 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ford dealers near me

    I quite like reading a post that will make men and women think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!


    May 7, 2021 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. trailer repair service near me


    May 7, 2021 at 19:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Digital Marketing Event


    May 7, 2021 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. body shop orange ca

    I needed to thank you for this fantastic read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I've got you saved as a favorite to check out new things you post…


    May 7, 2021 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Google Marketing Studio

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing problems with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    May 8, 2021 at 00:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Internet Marketing Jobs San Clemente

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly think this amazing site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!


    May 8, 2021 at 02:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Social Media Marketing Master


    May 8, 2021 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. drone repair orange county

    Good day! I just want to offer you a huge thumbs up for your great info you have right here on this post. I will be coming back to your website for more soon.


    May 8, 2021 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Content Marketing Program

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I came across this during my search for something regarding this.


    May 8, 2021 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Local Marketing Agencies Near Me

    Saved as a favorite, I love your site!


    May 8, 2021 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Digital Marketing Business

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I found this in my hunt for something regarding this.


    May 8, 2021 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Content Marketing California

    I was able to find good info from your articles.


    May 8, 2021 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Seats California


    May 8, 2021 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Video Marketing Agency

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the best blogs online. I most certainly will highly recommend this blog!


    May 8, 2021 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Internet Marketing Quotes

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am having problems with your RSS. I don’t understand why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting identical RSS problems? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    May 9, 2021 at 00:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Internet Marketing Association

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you, However I am experiencing issues with your RSS. I don’t know why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting similar RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 9, 2021 at 00:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Google Marketing Jobs


    May 9, 2021 at 00:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Content Marketing Reviews

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes which will make the biggest changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 9, 2021 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Digital Marketing Programs


    May 9, 2021 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV AC California


    May 9, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Internet Marketing Services Near Me


    May 9, 2021 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Social Media Marketing Jobs Orange County


    May 9, 2021 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Social Media Marketing La Habra


    May 9, 2021 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Digital Marketing Agency California


    May 9, 2021 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Internet Marketing Reviews

    Very good article. I'm facing many of these issues as well..


    May 9, 2021 at 21:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Morris Trett

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a online game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl articles and blogs


    May 10, 2021 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Seo Marketing Business


    May 10, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Social Media Marketing Jobs Orange County

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Taking the time and actual effort to make a superb article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get anything done.


    May 10, 2021 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Social Media Marketing Firms California

    Can I simply say what a relief to uncover somebody who really knows what they're talking about over the internet. You actually know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people ought to look at this and understand this side of your story. It's surprising you're not more popular since you certainly have the gift.


    May 10, 2021 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Internet Marketing Help

    When I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be a means you can remove me from that service? Cheers!


    May 11, 2021 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Digital Marketing Service

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that will make the biggest changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 11, 2021 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Social Media Marketing Event


    May 11, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Social Media Marketing Santa Ana

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this blog. I'm hoping to see the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own blog now 😉


    May 11, 2021 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Seo Marketing Agency

    I used to be able to find good info from your articles.


    May 11, 2021 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Digital Marketing Agency

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and actual effort to make a superb article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don't seem to get anything done.


    May 11, 2021 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Seo Marketing Jobs

    Good site you've got here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 11, 2021 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Social Media Marketing Events

    This site really has all the info I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 11, 2021 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Internet Marketing Services Near Me


    May 11, 2021 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Internet Marketing Association

    Right here is the perfect website for everyone who wants to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic that's been written about for ages. Great stuff, just great!


    May 11, 2021 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Leave a Reply to Rob


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.