If you prefer to keep your waistline in check while consuming alcoholic beverages, low-calorie options like vodka sodas are a fine choice.
But imbibing zero-calorie mixers like soda water and Diet Coke can come at a cost, according to new findings published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Researchers discovered that just like taking a shot, drinking an alcoholic beverage made with a low-calorie mixer gets you drunk faster.
Think of it this way: When you eat dinner before a night out on the town, those extra calories serve as a buffer to help slow your body's alcohol absorption. The same rule applies for sugary drinks like Jack and Cokes or gin and tonics.
Researchers enlisted 16 volunteers and had a few consume drinks made with diet soda. Even though these participants said they felt fine, a breathalyzer test revealed that their alcohol levels were 20 percent higher than those who had sugary mixers in their drinks. The study authors also found that women often end up with higher blood alcohol levels than men do because, in general, they gravitate toward lower-calorie options.
Why does this matter? Well, drinking something like a vodka soda can essentially be the same as taking a shot if you don't pace yourself. While you don't necessarily have to switch to sugary options, it's something to keep in the mind as a good night winds down, says Deborah Kotz at Boston.com. And remember: "If you have more than one drink, don't drive, period. It doesn't matter whether the mixer was diet or not."