Watching your figure could make you lose your marbles

diet cold drinks and alcohol mixing thingsYou’re watching your weight, so you’re always looking for ways to cut calories, without cramping your style. 

One way to do this – is to substitute the sugar loaded beverages, with a diet equivalent. Avoiding the enormous sugar dump, is a good health practice.

But, you might want to think twice, if you’re using the diet cold drink, as a drink mixer. You’re avoiding the sugar, but amplifying the alcohol dump.

And an alcohol dump can leave you whoozie and in all kinds of trouble.

Downing a storm

Drinking on an empty stomach is a NO NO.

The reason, no food in the tummy causes the alcohol to whoosh through superquick.

And quick, means the level of alcohol rises – SHARPLY.

And a sharp rise in alcohol can overwhelm brain cells – impairing their ability to put two and two together.

But, researchers from UNT Health Science Centre have discovered, that food is not the only factor which influences how quickly alcohol gets into the system.

The mixer matters.

Mixing up a storm

Inspired by personal observations and concerned about the dangers of drinking and driving, a team of researchers, decided to investigate what happens when alcohol and artificial sweetners, mix in a drink.

Sixteen volunteers, 8 female and 8 male, signed up to hang out at the “Laboratory Pub”. Each volunteer enjoyed a vodka and something, on different occasions.

The amount of vodka served was always the same and based on the size of the participant. They always received 1.9 ml/kg of vodka. The something was what changed.

The somethings included

  • 3.94 ml/kg Squirt (a fizzy cold drink) – which would be sugar laden
  • 3.94 ml/kg of Diet Squirt – which would be full of an artificial sweetner

Experiencing the storm

The participants were asked “How they felt”, specifically if they felt

  • Intoxicated i.e. whoozie
  • Fatigued
  • Impaired
  • Able to drive

Obviously all these are subjective, so to put a scientific stamp on the whole thing, the blood alcohol concentration was also assessed.

Artificial sweetner makes for MORE WHOOZE

The participants were clueless – they felt pretty much the same level of “happiness” with all three drinks.

But the blood alcohol levels suggested there was a difference….

When the participants saved their figures by adding diet drinks to the mix, their blood alcohol levels increased.

And…. surprise, surprise, their behaviour decreased.

No, it was not so bad they danced naked on the bar counter, but their reaction times were a lot slower and behaviour a little more goofy, than with the other drinks.

For many, they went from being “below” the limit, to “above’ the limit. Ouch !

How zat ?

At this stage – it is still a bit of mystery.

The research team think it might have something to do with gastric emptying speed, the presence of REAL sugar slows things down – allowing the alcohol to trickle in, as opposed to flood in.

No sugar, sees the beverage speed on through.

For what it is worth, most experts believe sugar ladened beverages buzz through pretty snappily, so there might be more to the story than slower gastric emptying.

But the why is not that important, the take home here is, IT HAPPENS.

Drinking and driving just got more complicated

Drinking and driving is NOT COOL. Alcohol kills, maims and destroys.

But, being responsible can still get you in trouble.

As you diligently count calories, you inadvertently load up the alcohol.

So…. think, before you drink.

PS. And be very wary of mixing your drinks with caffeine loaded beverages – the alcohol + caffeine combination can be deadly.

Letter to the Editor in Response to The Alcohol Mixed with Energy Drinks Debate: Masking the Facts!. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (2013)  Cecile A. Marczinski, Mark T. Fillmore.

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Further reading

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The shape of your drinks glass determines if you get tipsy How to stop alcohol cravings when you’re feeling low Are you in the habit of wearing rose-coloured beer glasses ?

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