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“ Calories in alcohol. National Health Service, U.K. [ref/] The process of making alcohol includes fermentation and distillation for many of the types of drinks. Is it any wonder that there are so many calories in the alcohol that you consume? Alcohol Lowers Your Dietary Inhibitions Alcohol ruins …”
Drinking alcohol may be one of the highlights of life when it’s all about parties, drinking games, and high metabolic rates, mostly for college-goers. But, if you continue bingeing on alcohol beyond your late twenties, you soon realize that the effects of all those alcohol-induced nights start to show up on your midriff.
So, is completely giving up alcohol a solution to avoid piling on the pounds? Not necessarily. Recreational alcohol intake is a part and parcel of life for many (it’s actually been around for centuries). In fact, it’s normal for alcohol to be served at work events and other formal situations. Avoiding alcohol completely, therefore, may be quite difficult. So, let’s tell you just what happens when you drink, how many calories you add on, and how to drink right and maintain weight.
How Does Alcohol Make You Put On Weight?
Alcohol is not a calorie-free drink. The problem is not really with the number of calories you consume but the type of calories. Calories from alcohol are not the same as calories from, let’s say, carbohydrates. Unlike other energy sources, the body cannot store the calories from booze as energy for later. Your body must effectively stop metabolizing other types of food in order to turn it’s attention to the alcoholic content. Adding to this, the calories in alcohol are more concentrated than the calories in carbohydrate- or protein-rich food.
Alcohol Lowers Your Dietary Inhibitions
Alcohol ruins your dietary choices in multiple ways. It does not fill you up as much as food does, so you end up consuming large quantities of it and thus, more calories. When you eat food, you stop once you’re satisfied. But, when it comes to alcohol, “just a drink” becomes much more.
Dancing without having a few drinks may be unthinkable for some. This is because alcohol helps remove inhibitions. Consequently, you tend to shrug off the diet rules you have been following and end up grabbing another pizza slice.
How Many Calories Are You Drinking?
Drinking during the “happy hours” makes you forget about everything other than the free drinks. Each of those drinks can have nearly as many calories as a gram of fat (around 7 calories). In addition to that will be the calories found in the mixed drinks. But, some drinks contain more calories than the others.
- Wine: A standard glass (175ml) of 12% wine has about 126 kcal.[ref]Calories in alcohol. National Health Service, U.K.[ref/] Red wine is tricky because the number of calories varies vastly depending on the sugar and alcohol percentage. Drier versions have fewer calories. But, red and white wine also have health benefits such as being good for the heart.[ref]Whelan, A. P., W. H. F. Sutherland, M. P. McCormick, D. J. Yeoman, S. A. De Jong, and M. J. A. Williams. “Effects of white and red wine on endothelial function in subjects with coronary artery disease.” Internal medicine journal 34, no. 5 (2004): 224-228.[ref/]
- Beer: A pint of 5% strong beer is said to have 215 kcal, which is why you should choose light beer always.
- Tequila: This one has surprisingly few calories. In fact, all clearer drinks (like vodka and white rum) are said to have fewer calories than darker alcohols like whiskey.
- Champagne: Celebrations with champagne don’t necessarily hurt your diet much because champagne is known to have comparatively fewer calories.
- Gin: Gin has even fewer calories than most wines, but the tonic that you add to gin has a lot of hidden calories.
To Cut Down Calories While Drinking
Other than switching to low-calories alcohol, here are some steps you can take to reduce the effect of alcohol on your body:
- Keep track: Drink in moderation. Both men and women shouldn’t drink more than 14 units per week. Remember, this doesn’t mean you can “save up” these units for one day of binge drinking. This will harm your body a lot more than spreading out the drinks over a week.
- Avoid sugary mixers: Alcohol is hard enough for the body to process. So why increase the burden by adding unhealthy sugars to it in the name of mixers? Try mixing plain water or fresh juice instead.
- Take a breather: Instead of gulping down drink after drink, drink slowly and give yourself breaks between the drinks. You could also try and alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic beverages. Drink plenty of water between drinks as well to avoid dehydration.
- Eat before and while you drink: When you eat before drinking alcohol, you are preparing your body, lining the stomach with some food, and diminishing the effect of alcohol a little. This way, you can avoid a headache, upset stomach, nausea, and a bad hangover. Eating healthy snacks while you drink will fill you up so that you do not get too hungry and grab unhealthy meals later on.
- Have a buddy: Trying to cut down on the alcohol with a friend can make it easier to do a good job as you will have the moral support of someone who is also going through the same thing.
It is not necessary to stop drinking alcohol completely to maintain your weight. Just do it in moderation, practice healthy habits while drinking, and observe the difference it makes.