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. Repair 2005 Sprinter Ecm

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering difficulties with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 31, 2021 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Sprinter Alignent Repair

    This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Kudos!


    May 31, 2021 at 01:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Delora Servis

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


    May 31, 2021 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mercedes Sprinter Refrigerater Repair

    I could not resist commenting. Perfectly written!


    May 31, 2021 at 07:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Internet Marketing Firm Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sprinter Service Near Me

    Can I simply just say what a relief to uncover someone that truly understands what they're talking about on the net. You definitely know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people must read this and understand this side of your story. It's surprising you are not more popular since you certainly have the gift.


    May 31, 2021 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Rv Mercedes Sprinter Service Center Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sprinter 2500 Front Glass Repair


    June 1, 2021 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Gmc Luxury Van Repair Shop Near Me

    Saved as a favorite, I like your blog!


    June 1, 2021 at 04:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sprinter Van Technician Shop


    June 1, 2021 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Van Repair Shop Near Me

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 1, 2021 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Travel Van Repair

    bookmarked!!, I really like your blog!


    June 1, 2021 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Melina Fehn


    June 1, 2021 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jaunita Persch

    You are so awesome! I do not think I've truly read through something like that before. So good to find somebody with some original thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!


    June 1, 2021 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sydney Penaloza

    The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't disappoint me as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, but I genuinely thought you'd have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something you could fix if you weren't too busy looking for attention.


    June 1, 2021 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Julene Alquisira

    I wanted to thank you for this very good read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have got you book marked to look at new stuff you post…


    June 2, 2021 at 00:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. orange county trailer repair

    After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I receive four emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!


    June 2, 2021 at 05:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. checkpoint in lake elsinore ca

    You should take part in a contest for one of the finest sites online. I am going to highly recommend this blog!


    June 2, 2021 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Rv Collision Repair Shop Near Me

    I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I'm hoping to see the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own website now 😉


    June 2, 2021 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Ellsworth Mousseau

    When I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a way you are able to remove me from that service? Kudos!


    June 2, 2021 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Marcell Reagon

    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 second life articles and blogs


    June 2, 2021 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Content Marketing Near Me

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe this website needs much more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the info!


    June 3, 2021 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. red tube photo


    June 3, 2021 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Custom Van Repair Shop

    Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is useful. Thanks for sharing!


    June 3, 2021 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Touring Van Repair Shop

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


    June 3, 2021 at 02:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RV Windows Near Me


    June 3, 2021 at 03:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. solar paint and body


    June 3, 2021 at 04:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. where to buy rv furniture

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 3, 2021 at 05:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. does rv insurance cover roof leaks

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday. It's always interesting to read through articles from other authors and use something from other web sites.


    June 3, 2021 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Mercedes Sprinter Diesel Repair Near Me


    June 3, 2021 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. rv upholstery near me


    June 3, 2021 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. esurance near me

    You have made some decent points there. I looked on the internet to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.


    June 3, 2021 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Air Conditioner Repair Near Me

    Great post. I'm going through a few of these issues as well..


    June 3, 2021 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. couch repair near me

    Very good article. I absolutely appreciate this site. Thanks!


    June 3, 2021 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. furniture restoration orange county


    June 3, 2021 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. dumps with pin

    790722 68038I love what you guys are up too. Such clever work and exposure! Maintain up the very excellent works guys Ive incorporated you guys to my own blogroll. 418749

    June 3, 2021 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. toy hauler modifications

    Iím amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I came across this during my search for something regarding this.


    June 4, 2021 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Social Media Marketing Consultant

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


    June 4, 2021 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. painting horse trailers


    June 4, 2021 at 01:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. South Haven Michigan Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me


    June 4, 2021 at 01:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. computer repair near me

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this site.


    June 4, 2021 at 01:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Suspension Repair Sprinter Van

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the website is extremely good.


    June 4, 2021 at 04:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Erlene Leland

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though


    June 4, 2021 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. rv repair videos


    June 4, 2021 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. shopping near me

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is useful. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 4, 2021 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Dodge Sprinter Van Repair

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you, However I am having difficulties with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else having the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 4, 2021 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Rv Service Locations


    June 4, 2021 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. horse trailer repairs


    June 4, 2021 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. oc wheel repair


    June 5, 2021 at 01:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. rv repair materials


    June 5, 2021 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Leave a Reply to Carter Sherk


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.