Can this protein bar stop you getting drunk so quickly?
The makers claim so – with science and everything...
Some people get drunk faster than others. Some people can sip drinks all night with little impact – but others get giddy after two drinks. This might all seem like fun and games, but you don't need me to tell you why being drunk might not necessarily be the best position to be in.
Of course, you could just drink less, but it can creep up on you when you least expect it. You can be absolutely fine, sober as a judge, until you stand up and realise that that's really not the case at all; it can be pretty unpredictable, and as much as you might like that, it's not for everyone.
You should always eat before you drink – particularly if you are keen on avoiding that "light switch" effect – and Zeno is claiming to be able make that an easier rule to stick to.
The US based company is run by Dr Joseph Fisher, a scientist and self confessed foodie. After working in pharmaceuticals for over 20 years, he decided to put his knowledge and love of food to good use and make a line of "functional foods" that can work for us as we enjoy them.
His latest creation is the Sobar. This is a protein bar that, he claims, will enable you to absorb alcohol more slowly than if you had an empty stomach – but also more slowly than if you had eaten a meal of similar calorific value.
The thinking behind it is that alcohol is absorbed much more slowly in the stomach than in the intestines. If there is food in your stomach, it works to break the food up before it empties it (along with the alcohol) into the intestines. This is why you get more drunk more quickly on an empty stomach; the stomach doesn't really need to work on anything so it passes straight through.
There are also enzymes in the stomach that break the alcohol down before it makes it into the bloodstream. So the overall aim is to keep alcohol in your stomach for longer so you get drunk in a more sensible fashion.
When testing the Sobar, people were asked to have a standard dinner, then fast till the experiment the next day. They were then given either no food, a snack of 210 calories, the Sobar at 210 calories, or a full meal of 635 calories. They then had two cocktails and their peak blood alcohol concentration was measured over a 90-minute period.
It was found that the Sobar did reduce the rate of alcohol absorption more than twice as much as the snack. The meal reduced alcohol absorption even more, but on a calorie by calorie basis, the Sobar was almost twice as effective.
The nutritional content of the bar is key; it is full of fibre, which spends more time in the stomach than most things (it takes more effort to break it down so there is more work involved). So, if you have it with a drink, the drink sits in your stomach for longer and you absorb it more slowly.
While a full meal will always serve you well before a big night out, if you're short on time, this might be a nice alternative.
It is worth mentioning that, while relatively well controlled, the study contained only 21 participants and was funded, in its entirety, by Zeno.