Science Explains a Potential Downside to Mixing Booze With Diet Soda

A series of TikTok videos unlocked the mystery

Diet Coke
Empty cans of Coca-Cola Co. Diet Coke brand soda move along a conveyor belt at the Swire Coca-Cola bottling plant in West Valley City, Utah.
George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Consider two identical people sitting at a bar. One of them is drinking bourbon and Coke; the other is drinking bourbon and Diet Coke. Which one will be more affected? This is not a trick question, by the way — the person drinking Diet Coke mixed with booze might find themselves feeling more buzzed than their counterpart.

According to a new article at VinePair, we can thank TikTok for this fascinating foray into the science of booze and diet soda. As the article details, one Loryn Powell decided to investigate the effects of drinking whiskey and soda versus whiskey and diet soda, with the aid of a breathalyzer test.

With everything else identical, Powell’s combination of Jack Daniels and Diet Coke gave her a higher blood alcohol content than drinking a comparable amount of Jack and Coke. The science behind this was expanded upon by another TikTok user, Dr. Karan Raj. Dr. Raj explained that the sugar in standard Coke caused alcohol to be absorbed into the body more slowly — which explains the difference in BACs that Powell observed.

As VinePair’s article points out, the differences in BAC that Powell recorded are significant — for instance, they might be the difference between being cited for a DUI versus not. It’s another factor to keep in mind while drinking — taking in less sugar from your mixer could have unexpected repercussions.

And if you’re in need of a soundtrack for the next time you’re mixing Coke and whiskey, might we suggest this uptempo number?


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