Diet Soda Raises Your BAC

You might think you’re making a healthier choice ordering diet soda in your mixed drink, but it’s actually bad for you.

This depends, of course, on your definition of good and bad. We’re not talking about the short chemistry textbook that is the diet soda ingredients list, which, presumably, is kinda bad for you, too. We’re talking about the fact that when you mix your rum with diet coke instead of regular coke, the resulting mixed drink is going to get you drunker, faster, and you won’t know it. Which, per Egon, would be bad.

It’s hard to swallow, since the American mentality supports a general notion of diet=good. We order diet soda, or diet mixers of any kind, to cut down on the caloric onslaught of a night out. Maybe we feel slightly less sinful for drinking if we’re not contributing to the diabetes crisis. (Sorry folks, diet soda can raise your blood sugar, too.) Turns out the wiser choice, especially if you’re looking to avoid a surprisingly high Breath Alcohol Concentration (or BrAC), is to go full sugar.

That reality is backed up by a study published in the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The study was conducted by actual scientists, with no other agenda than to figure out how your blood alcohol level rises and why. And the logic is pretty sound: when you drink regular, sugary soda, your body treats that sugar content like food. When you order a mixed drink with regular, sugary soda, your body will break down the sugar content along with the alcohol, slowing down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. Order that same mixed drink with diet soda, the alcohol is going to enter your system a lot faster: study subjects who drank booze with diet mixers having an 18% higher BrAC than those who went full sucrose.

Moral of the story: white sugar might be one of the many nutritional evils out there, but when you’re drinking, if you want to stay on your feet, it’s a necessary one.