Many of us try to moderate our caloric intake by cutting back on sugary sodas, but just as often they are replaced with diet drinks. This substitution often occurs when people are choosing their alcoholic beverages as well. Instead of choosing a rum and regular Coke, many people will go for a rum and diet coke. But a new study that will be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research shows that the mixer you choose could affect whether you are legally drunk or not.
There was on average an almost 20% increase in an individual’s breath alcohol concentration when the subject drank alcohol with a sugar-free mixer, and this level remained elevated for a three-hour period. This is due to the fact that the sugar in regular soda slows the rate of alcohol absorption.
The study found that the average breath alcohol concentration was 0.091 with diet soda, and 0.077 with a regular soda. Even with the same amount of alcohol, mixed with diet soda, an individual would be considered legally intoxicated, while he would not be considered so with the regular soda.
What will exacerbate the effect is drinking alcohol and diet soda on an empty stomach. Because there will be nothing to temper the absorption of the alcohol, the effects will be particularly strong.
If you are drinking, the safest bet is not to drive at all. But choosing your food and drinking carefully can also help you stay safe while having fun.