Alcohol and Weight Loss… Can We Have Both?

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What’s the one food or drink you just can’t live without? Is it pizza, pasta, or ice cream? Or is it beer, wine, or margaritas? A mixture of all of the above? Most people know that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain - hence the term “beer-belly.” Sometimes, alcohol is listed as one of the excuses to why we can’t get back on track. We sometimes crave beer and mixed drinks the same as we do cheesy, greasy pizza. What if I told you that you could have a little of it all and still reach your goals? 

The key to enjoying the foods that you love in life while still maintaining (or losing!) weight is having everything in moderation. This is true for drinking alcohol as well! It’s pretty safe to say that no one lost weight and built a killer body while drinking a 6 pack or a bottle of wine every night, but you can definitely still enjoy these treats from time to time! 

There are both negatives and positives associated with drinking alcohol. First, let’s figure out the science behind what alcohol does to our bodies: 

Alcohol is dense in calories, but certainly not dense in nutrition. Alcohol has the 2nd highest calorie count per gram at 7 calories per gram!  it is just 2 calories under fat!  Alcohol is considered to be “empty calories,” meaning that they don’t provide our bodies with any nutrition. However, our bodies metabolize, or break down, alcohol prior to any food we may have eaten. Since alcohol metabolization gets prioritized, our bodies can’t break down nutrients, so we store the calories we consume from food as fat. In a nutshell, alcohol can lead our bodies to store more fat, and more fat is not good for anyone! 

Let’s take a look at the calorie content of some common drink choices: 

Beer (12 oz): 100 – 200 cal 

Wine (5 oz): 125 – 150 cal 

Margarita (6 oz): 300 – 600 cal 

Long Island Iced Tea (15 oz): 350 – 500 cal

Looking at these numbers, it’s easy to see how the calories add up throughout a night at your favorite restaurant or at the bar. 

Alcohol is not only full of “empty calories,” but can also make us pack on even more pounds by debilitating our ability to make healthy food choices.Alcohol makes your blood suagr drop which causes you to crave starchy, unhealthy foods! After having a drink or two, you’re relaxed, more easygoing, and are much more likely to choose the cheeseburger and loaded fries than you are the grilled salmon and asparagus when you’re having dinner on a Friday night. So not only are you getting the added calories from alcohol, but you’re also consuming more calories from your meal than you planned. Yikes! 

If your body does not burn all of the alcohol calories you consume, they are quickly stored as fat!  Now to be clear, this happen with macro in excess.  However, alcohol calories are stored in the liver first!  if the liver does not do this fast enough (or if you drink too much, too often) the fat stays stuck in your liver and around your abdomen giving you what we call a "beer belly"

However, while drinking daily might not be the best for your weight and overall health, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an occasional drink! In fact, having a casual drink every now and then has been shown to reduce the risk for some chronic diseases. This is thought to be due to the fact that alcohol is a stress reliever, which can have a positive effect on your health and weight. Not only that, but some red wines have been shown to contain antioxidants that have some heart healthy effects. 

Remember, the key is moderation. Instead of drinking 3-4 glasses of wine with dinner on Friday, have only one, maybe two, and really savor it. It’s going to be hard to combat daily drinking with diet and exercise, so try to limit drinking to once a week. Or, plan your week around it if you know you’ll be splurging in some heavier weekend drinking. Make more of an effort to stick to a wholesome diet, and crush your workouts everyday. This way, the alcohol you consume will have less of a negative impact on your goals!

Here are some healthier drink choices for when you do choose to drink: 

Light Beer (12 oz): 70 – 125 cal 

Dry Wine (5 oz): 125 cal 

Gin and Diet Tonic: 100 cal 

Vodka Soda: 100 cal 

 

Having only one or two of these drinks won’t set you back too much. Just remember not to drink the whole bottle! Cheers to living your life while managing your weight

 

If you are looking to make SUSTAINABLE changes in your life so that you can lose the weight and finally keep it off, I CAN HELP YOU!  I DON'T believe in the all or nothing lifestyle. I think it is so important to teach my clients how to balance a social life that includes alcohol and other discretionary foods and still be successful with weight loss!  it is all about balance and moderation!  Let me teach you sustainable lifestyle changes and advance nutritional strategies to make long term weight loss possible!  Click below for more info!