When you and your friends go to the bar, you’ll notice that some of them order different kinds of drinks. Some will choose beer, others liquor mixed with carbonated beverages. The question is, does carbonation slow the rate of alcohol absorption?
Mixing carbonated drinks with spirits is a popular option when ordering drinks. It often improves the flavor by adding some sweetness to the beverage. Plus, you get a different taste profile thanks to the carbonation.
But when it comes to getting drunk, you’ll also want to know that adding this type of drink to alcohol affects how your body absorbs the alcohol.
Depending on whether you want to get drunk faster or slower, knowing how carbonation affects alcohol is a must. That way you don’t get wasted shortly after a few drinks.
Carbonation and Alcohol Absorption
So the question is, does carbonation slow the rate of alcohol absorption?
It is common for people to think that the only factor in how quickly you will begin to feel the effects of alcohol is the volume of the drink itself.
When people add a mixer to a spirit or add lemonade to beer to make a shandy, they may think that they will not get drunk as quickly. But, in actual fact this is not always the case.
The myth that carbonation slows the absorption of alcohol has actually been disproved many times in various scientific studies.
What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated drinks increase the amount of pressure in the stomach. This is why you can sometimes feel bloated after drinking a lot of soda.
When alcohol is also present in the stomach at the same time as carbonated drinks, this pressure can force more alcohol into the bloodstream through the stomach lining.
The higher the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream, the more the effects of this alcohol will be felt.
So, if you were to mix your spirit with water, you would not feel as drunk as quickly than if it was mixed with cola or lemonade, even if the same amount of spirit was drunk each time.
The same is true with drinking the spirit straight up compared to doing so with a carbonated drink. You get drunk faster with the latter.
This explains why some drinks may make you feel drunk faster. This occurs even when you wouldn’t expect them to.
This is the same reason that you may feel the effects of carbonated drinks such as beer and sparkling wine more quickly than you would if you were drinking spirits without a carbonated mixer.
This can seem surprising when the ABV of spirits is often considerably higher than that of beer. In these cases, it is the carbonation that is at work in your stomach rather than the alcohol that is making you feel these effects.
In essence, the presences of the carbonated drink accelerates the rate at which the alcohol gets into your bloodstream. This results is getting drunk faster, even if the drink you’ve chosen has a much lower alcohol content.
Many Other Factors in Alcohol Absorption
This is not the only factor that will affect how quickly someone would feel the effects of alcohol. In fact there are a number of other things that can affect how fast your body gets ‘hit’ by the alcohol.
The reason why there is no such thing as a minimum amount of alcohol that should be drunk before driving is that everyone’s body processes alcohol differently.
Some people have higher tolerance for alcohol. Also, their bodies may absorb it slower. They have their genetics to thank for this.
If two people drank exactly the same amount of alcohol, it is likely that one would feel the affects more strongly than the other. The reason for this is that everyone’s ‘limit’ is different. This is why some people can drink much more than others.
However, there are also other outside sources that aren’t related to genetics.
Full vs. Empty Stomach
Other factors that can affect how quickly alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream include things such as how much a person has had to eat that day.
The body can process alcohol up to 45 times quicker when your stomach is empty compared to when it is full. This is why it is always recommended that you have something to eat before you go out drinking.
Your Body Size
Individuals who are bigger or weigh more also absorb alcohol slower. The reason for this is that the bigger your body mass, the more water you have in your body.
Water works to dilute the effects of alcohol. Because of this, it helps slow down the rate of alcohol absorption
Sipping vs. Chugging
Chugging down beer one after the other, or quickly will also get you drunk faster. If you want ‘outlast’ your friends, sip slowly and spread out your drinking through the night.
Your Stress Levels
Your stress level is another factor that affects how quickly alcohol gets into your bloodstream. When stressed, the body empties the stomach into the small intestine much faster.
This allows alcohol to be absorbed at a quicker rate than when you are relaxed.