Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Diet Drinks: A Bad Mix with Alcohol

Combining alcohol and a low-cal mixer gets you drunk faster and hinders weight loss By Andrea Neblett Reviewed by QualityHealth's Medical Advisory Board Think that mixing your favorite liquor with a diet soda will keep your weight loss on track? You may want to think again. Research from the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) in Australia revealed that chasing alcoholic drinks with artificially sweetened drinks can get you drunk faster. The results of the study were published in the American Journal of Medicine. During the two-day study RAH researchers assessed eight men who drank orange-flavored vodka mixed with a regular soda that had 478 calories, or mixed with a diet soda that had 225 calories. They used an ultrasound to measure how quickly alcohol left the stomach, and blood tests to measure the alcohol level right after drinking and up to three hours after. They found that it took about 21 minutes for half the diet cocktail to leave the stomach and reach the small intestine (where alcohol enters the bloodstream). In comparison, the drink mixed with regular soda took 36 minutes to reach the small intestine. Also, the blood alcohol level peaked at 0.05 percent for the diet mixture, but only 0.03 for the regular drinks — a significant difference when it comes to measuring blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Regular mixers or sodas contain calories, and like other caloric food, help to reduce how quickly alcohol leaves your stomach and enters your bloodstream. Diet drinks have few or no calories, which increases how quickly alcohol enters your blood. Although the study included only men, it’s important news for women who are most likely to mix alcohol with sugar-free sodas. Also according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, women get higher BACs than men and become more intoxicated even when they drink the same amount. Effect on weight loss So you know a diet drink-and-alcohol combo will get you drunk faster. But, you may be wondering how it impacts your weight loss as well. Even though you’re taking in fewer calories by using a diet soda as a mixer instead of a regular soda, studies show that alcohol can increase feelings of hunger by affecting hormones that control your appetite, such as leptin. While your drink may have fewer calories, it’s possible you’ll eat more afterwards. Also, the American Liver foundation states that almost all people who drink heavily have fatty liver, which affects your metabolism. Women are more likely to have alcohol-induced fatty liver than men. A better way to drink Still want to have an occasional drink, but keep those pounds off? Try eating a few healthy, low-calorie snacks with your drink, or before. Whole wheat nachos or pita chips with salsa, and salt-free pretzels or nuts are good bets. Recent research is conflicting about which drinks are better for you. In some circles red wine has been touted above all other alcoholic drinks for its heart benefits. But other studies, including one published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests beer or spirits can also be healthy for your heart. The best option if you have to drink is to do it moderately, which the American Council on Science and Health says is one drink a day for women under 65, or two for men under 65. One drink is a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a mixed drink containing 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits. Also, there are a few light beers on the market, including one that has only 64 calories. Article courtesy of Quality Health

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