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What You Need to Know About Alcohol

by | Nutrition

While the saying goes that it’s always “5 o’clock somewhere”, you may want to rethink that mantra if you’re watching your weight, trying to lose weight, or notice your midsection becoming as round as a keg of beer.

Even if you don’t keep a detailed food journal, you probably have an idea of the calories you’re actually eating; but what about liquid calories?

That’s an area where many of us often fall short.

Energy drinks, juice and smoothies can add extra calories, but alcohol is often our biggest enemy, going down so smoothly, we may have no idea just how many extra calories we’re taking in.

If cocktails are a regular part of your diet and you’re trying to lose weight, being more aware of what and how much you drink can make a difference.

While a drink at the end of the day may often sound tempting, when you actually look at the number of calories per drink, it can be shocking.

Check out a list of some of the most common cocktails:

*1 can (12 oz) Beer – 135-145 calories
*1 can (12 oz) Light Beer – 101 calories
*1 glass (3.5 oz) Red or White Wine – 70-75 calories
*1 shot (1.5 oz) Gin, rum, vodka or whiskey – 97 calories
*1 glass (6 oz) Cosmopolitan – 143 calories
*1 glass (4.5 oz) Pina colada – 262 calories
*1 glass (2.2 oz) Martini – 135 calories

Just think, a few “cold ones” (that could equal 300-500 calories or more) after you work out, can undo all of your hard work.

Aside from the obvious empty calories, alcohol makes it harder to stick to a healthy diet. It takes a high dose willpower to turn down high-calorie foods and that requires energy.

So after a few drinks, that healthy diet you’ve been following so diligently suddenly doesn’t seem all that important anymore.

What exactly is happening with alcohol in our bodies?

Alcohol temporarily keeps your body from burning fat.

The reason is that your body can’t store calories from alcohol for later, the way it does with food calories.

So when you drink, your metabolic system must stop what it’s doing (like, say, burning off calories from your last meal) to get rid of the booze.

So, whatever you recently ate will be stored as FAT…especially around that midsection, thus the well-known phrase “beer belly”.

So, can you still enjoy a drink?

Like everything else, moderation is the key when it comes to enjoying cocktails while watching your weight.

Treat alcohol the same way you treat other things in your diet – as something you can enjoy from time to time without going overboard…

Be aware of what and how much you’re drinking.

Find the calorie content of your favorite drinks. That alone may motivate you to find substitutions for higher calorie drinks. For example, a shot of coffee liqueur could have up to 150 calories, while a glass of wine has only 70 calories.

Drink water between drinks.

Having a full glass of water between alcoholic drinks can both help you avoid drinking too much and keep you hydrated. That may help avoid a hangover the next day.

Know your weak spots.

If you know you tend to drink too much and overeat at parties, prepare yourself. Eat a healthy meal or snack before you go to ensure you’re not drinking on an empty stomach, which speeds up intoxication.

Think about your goals.

Turning down that refill may be hard in the moment, but you’ll be glad you did when you wake up the next day, refreshed and ready for your workout.  No drink tastes as good as a workout feels!

Avoid high-calorie drinks.

The worst offenders include eggnog (340 calories), Long Island Iced Tea (up to 800 calories) and margaritas (up to 700 calories). In general, drinks that include mixers like sweet and sour mix, juice or club soda will have more calories.

Hope this ideas give you a few ideas to stay on track and reach your goals!

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