According to a study to be published in the April 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, using diet soda as opposed to regular soda as a mixer can lead to a higher blood alcohol levels.
In the study, individuals consuming alcohol with diet soda ended up on average with a .091 BAC while those consuming alcohol with regular sugar sweetened soda ended up on average with a .077 BAC.
It turns out that the sugar in the soda causes the body to process the sugar like it was food, thereby slowing down alcohol absorption. On the other hand, since there is no sugar to trigger the body’s digestive process, diet soda seems to allow the alcohol to go straight through to the small intestine and absorb quicker.
The study also found that the test subjects did not feel more or less impaired/intoxicated, whether they were using diet or sugar soda as mixers.
While you should always have a designated driver when going out for a fun evening, if you decide to have a mixed drink, remember that it doesn’t take much to get to a .08 BAC, and while you may think you are fine and not impaired, a diet soda used as a mixer could result in a .18% increase of the BAC as opposed to a sugar sweetened soda….be careful!