SOBAR claims it soak up the booze you drank to lower your blood alcohol content, and some data backs it up

By Tim Nelson
November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving (well, specifically the night before Thanksgiving) marks the beginning of the drinking marathon that is the holiday season. We all have our own methods for ensuring we stay somewhat functional while we celebrate, but most of them feel like a crapshoot when it comes to countering the effects of alcohol.

Now, a new snack says it can help you handle the booze a bit better. Specifically, SOBAR (get it?) is a “snack-sized protein bar from Zeno Functional Foods that claims it’s the first snack specifically designed to reduce the rate at which alcohol is absorbed in the body. According to a press release, SOBAR makes use of proprietary food technology called Alco-HOLD, which uses milk protein and “insoluble oat fiber” to keep alcohol in the stomach for longer, where it can be “inactivated” and broken down by enzymes.

There’s plenty of reason for skepticism about how SOBAR works. But as it turns out, certain (admittedly small sample) clinical trial data in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medicinal Food suggests they might be onto something.

In the trial, a group of 21 adults had their BAC measured after eating no food, a 210 calorie SOBAR, 210 calories of snack mix, and a full 635 calorie meal. While it’s important to note that the full meal reduced BAC did the best job of reducing blood alcohol concentration, lowering it by 68% compared to the control of eating no food at all, SOBAR (50%) was twice as effective as the equivalent 210 calorie snack (25%) at cutting into BAC. That’s why Zeno Functional Foods can claim that “on a per calorie basis the SOBAR outperformed both other foods by about 2 to 1.”

If that sounds great to you, you might want to wait until after Dry January before making any big plans to get responsibly buzzed with help from a lower-calorie snack. Zeno Functional Foods says it’s “planning to make the SOBAR available in North America first, via the internet and retail distribution,” which sure sounds like you won’t find it for purchase anywhere just yet.

At the end of the day, the only truly reliable way to not get drunk is to avoid drinking in the first place. But it is interesting to see that there might be a way to engineer our food to help us handle booze a bit better. Perhaps with some further tests to fine tune SOBAR and make sure it actually works, we could be headed towards a bright future when bar peanuts are replaced with a snack that can help us stay coherent.  

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