It’s not your imagination, some drinks do make us feel drunk faster than others. Here are a few factors that influence how alcohol affects our body and brain:

  • First: Mixing alcohol with diet soda. Cocktails made with diet drinks hit our bloodstream as quickly as a straight shot of liquor. Meaning you get drunk faster. But mixers that contain sugar, like regular soda or juice, slow the alcohol absorption into your bloodstream. And it isn’t just the way we feel that’s affected. A shot of alcohol, when served with a sugar-free mixer, will add 2-tenths of a point to a Breathalyzer test. For example, say you had a Jack and Coke and used a breathalyzer, and blew a .07, which is under the current legal limit for drinking and driving. If you had the same amount of Jack Daniels and mixed it with Diet Coke, you’d blow a .09 and would be arrested for a DUI.

  • Also: Eating low-fat or fat-free foods can make us drunk faster. Because a lack of fat in the stomach releases alcohol into our bloodstream more quickly. So there’s a difference in how drunk you’ll get if you’re eating the free beer nuts served at the bar, versus the fat-free pretzels.

  • You’ll also get drunk faster if you’re not lifting weights. Because a body with more lean muscle mass contains more water, which helps dilute the alcohol. And the more body fat we have, the drunker we’ll feel. So a woman who weighs 140-pounds but is built like Serena Williams won’t get as drunk as a 140-pound woman who has more body fat.

  • Another factor behind the impact alcohol has on our brain and body: Age. As we get older, our bodies eliminate alcohol more slowly, so the older we get, the faster we get drunk, and the longer we stay impaired.