Virtual Bar Facts
What makes the new Virtual Bar different than other BAC calculators?
- Based on male and female participants; previous research was based solely on males.
- Included more study participants than previous research studies modeling alcohol pharmacokinetics (the study of how the body absorbs, uses, and eliminates drugs).
- First algorithm model based on food that is realistic, popular, and mainstream. Previous research conducted by Burns and Moskowitz (1980) were based on meals that did not correspond to what people might actually eat when drinking (e.g., 1 c. broiled chicken, 3.5 oz water-packed tuna, 1 ½ c. low-fat cottage cheese, 5 oz. lean roast beef, and 1 medium tomato).
- Designed to illustrate how various factors – age, height, weight, and gender – all affect an individual’s BAC. Most other estimators do not include all of these variables, height and age, for instance, in their calculations.
About the Model
The Virtual Bar is a model designed to simulate how alcohol is processed in the body. The current model is based on data obtained from 14 participants who ate a meal, waited 15 minutes and then consumed controlled portions of alcohol for 30 minutes until they reached a peak BAC of .10. Thus, allowing for an examination and estimation of the effects of drinking time, alcohol consumed, and food.
Food and Food Effects
BAC levels were collected to determine the effects of food under five conditions – no food, In-n-Out, Panda Express, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell.
The New Foods
Note: This research is not sponsored by and was not conducted in partnership with any of the following restaurants.
Males (1065-1090 calories – average 1084):
In-N-Out Burger: Double-cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onions and sauce and French fries (1065 calories)
Panda Express: Orange chicken entrée with side of chow mein and chicken egg roll (1090 calories)
Taco Bell: XXL beef burrito with chips and pico de gallo (1090 calories)
Pizza Hut: 2 slices of pepperoni pan pizza and 6 crispy bone-in buffalo wings (1090 calories)
Females (860-890 calories – average 871):
In-N-Out Burger: Cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onions and sauce and French fries (875 calories)
Panda Express: Orange chicken entrée with side of chow mein (890 calories)
Taco Bell: XXL beef burrito (860 calories)
Pizza Hut: 2 slices of pepperoni pan pizza (860 calories)
- Chinese food produced a lower peak BAC, slower time to peak BAC, and a faster return to .00 BAC time.
- The absorption of alcohol is affected by how much food there is in the stomach. If you drink on a full stomach there is more in your stomach to absorb the alcohol thus slowing and moderating the absorption compared to an empty stomach. As the stomach empties, the effects of food on peak BAC diminish.
- The Virtual Bar does not factor into account gastric emptying, so each drink is treated the same – hypothesized at 15 minutes on a full stomach. Once a person stops eating or drinking, it takes approximately four hours for the stomach to empty its contents.