Is it dangerous to mix alcohol with diet pop?

[media-credit name=”” align=”aligncenter”]Is it dangerous to mix alcohol with diet pop?[/media-credit]

Source: Best Health magazine, May 2013; Image: Thinkstock

Opting for diet pop as a mixer may cut calories, but a study published in the April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found it may make you more drunk.

U.S. researchers had male and female participants consume one of three drinks within 10 minutes: vodka and regular citrus pop, vodka mixed with a diet version of the pop (it was sweetened with aspartame), or a placebo drink (regular pop but no alcohol).

Afterwards, researchers recorded breath-alcohol concentration (BrAC). Participants were given a reaction-time task, and reported their feelings of intoxication and willingness to drive.

The results? Having alcohol with a diet mixer resulted in an 18 percent higher BrAC than alcohol with regular pop. Scores on the reaction-time task were also worse, but the participants weren’t aware of differences in impairment. That’s scary, considering the 18 percent difference could push you over the legal limit to drive’without you knowing.

According to study author Cecile Marczinski, assistant professor in the department of psychological science at Northern Kentucky University, the stomach treats sugar-sweetened beverages similar to food, keeping them in the stomach longer, ‘while alcohol mixed with diet pop speeds through the digestive system faster and enters the bloodstream faster.’

This article was originally titled "Avoid alcohol with diet pop" in the May 2013 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!