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Alcohol Absorption: Food On The Stomach

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Alcohol Absorption: Food On The Stomach

Alcohol Absorption: Food On The Stomach

alcohol absorptionThe factor that has the largest effect on the rate of alcohol absorption is the amount and type of food in the stomach. On average a person consuming alcohol on an empty stomach will reach a peak alcohol concentration within approximately 30 minutes after the end of drinking. With a moderate amount of food present in the stomach the peak may be may not be reached until one hour after the conclusion of drinking.

Alcohol Absorption: Peak Alcohol Concentration

When a large amount of food is present in the stomach, it may take as long as two hours after alcohol consumption to reach peak alcohol concentration. In rare instances times to reach peak alcohol concentration have been reported in excess of two hours after the conclusion of drinking; however such cases are uncommon and are likely the result of disease or physiological abnormality.

Alcohol Absorption and Distribution

It is well understood that a person’s BAC is directly related to the amount of alcohol they consume. It is also largely affected by how the alcohol is distributed throughout the body. In reality only a small fraction of the alcohol consumed actually remains in the bloodstream after absorption. The majority of alcohol in the body distributes out of the blood into the water containing tissues and fluids. The movement of alcohol from the blood to the tissues and other water containing spaces of the body is known as the distribution of alcohol.

Alcohol Absorption: It Is All About Body Fat Percentage

The extent to which a person can distribute alcohol out of the bloodstream and intro the tissues will greatly affect the peak blood and breath alcohol concentration they reach. For the most part alcohol will distribute evenly into the total volume of water found within a person’s body. Thus the greater the volume of water in a person’s body, the greater the amount of alcohol that will distribute out of the blood stream and the lower the resulting BAC will be. This being said very few things can cause rapid significant changes in the total amount of water in the body without endangering a person’s health. Because most lean tissues are more than 70% water, the primary factors affecting the distribution of alcohol in a drinking subject are the weight of the subject and the body fat percentage of the subject.

Alcohol Absorption: Why Aren’t You Drunk Yet?

An average healthy male is about 60% water by weight; however, this may vary slightly in proportion to his body fat percentage because fat is almost completely devoid of water. This means that two people of the same weight who consume the same amount of alcohol may not reach the exact same BAC. If the volume of water into which they distribute that alcohol (or volume of distribution) differs, so will their BAC.

The factor that has the largest effect on the distribution of alcohol is body fat percentage.  Body fat percentage is highly correlated to the percentage of the body mass that is composed of water. The average body fat percentage for males is about 14-18%. And, the average body fat percentage for females is about 23- 29%. Thus, we would expect women on average to exhibit lower volumes of distribution (Vd) than men of the same weight.

Charles Rowland


Charles M. Rowland II has been representing the accused drunk driver for over 20 years. Contact him at (937) 318-1384 if you find yourself facing a DUI (now called OVI) charge.

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