So you have been exercising regularly, and cutting back on your calories to meet your weight loss goals. Everything is going great with your new changes but you notice the number on the scale is not moving much and your body is not changing shape as quickly as you might have hoped. There may be one more habit interfering with your weight loss efforts… alcohol. Perhaps you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, have a couple of beers while watching the footie, or even cocktails on a Saturday night with friends. All common practices but they may be getting in the way of your weight loss efforts.
Alcoholic beverages have been enjoyed throughout recorded history. For some, a drink with dinner may be relaxing. Others may enjoy the inhibitions that alcohol can create to “let loose” with friends. Many people drink for the health benefits. After-all, evidence shows that moderate drinking, especially red wine, may lower the risk of heart disease (see below). However, no matter what your reasons are for drinking, alcohol can interfere with your weight loss goals.
Alcohol is a product of fermenting carbohydrates- both sugars and starches. This means it does provide calories. Specifically it provides 7 calories for every gram compared to 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates and protein, and 9 calories per gram of fat. Drinking 4 (12 ounce) beers will supply 600 calories. To burn those calories, a person would need to walk non-stop for 3 hours. Skipping the cab ride and walking home may be a strategy but for most of us a 3 hour walk is a bit daunting even when we are in good shape.
Although wine contains fewer calories than beer, this can also lead to extra calories. Having a glass of wine provides 100 calories, but this is dependent on the glass size. A serving size of wine is 5-ounces. The larger wine glasses hold about 10 ounces turning your one glass of wine into two glasses. To put this into perspective, drinking two glasses of wine each night with dinner will add an extra 200 calories each day. If these calories are not burned through exercise and daily activity it can lead to a 20 pound weight gain in a year.
Adding juice, creams, and sodas to cocktails will increase the calorie level beyond what the alcohol is already providing. Be careful of what you are drinking. In some cases, one drink provides more calories than an entire meal!
Yes, you can still drink.
You might just have to change how and what you drink. The connection between moderate drinking and avoiding heart disease is pretty much old news to most of us at this point. But now, experts are saying that those of us who have 1-2 drinks a few times a week are less likely to become obese than non drinkers. To achieve this however, you might need to switch out the beers for something a little healthier. Here are six of our all-time favourite alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks. Easy to make, super delicious and great for staying healthy:
Everything in moderation
Besides adding calories, alcohol may affect your weight for other reasons. Some evidence suggests drinking alcoholic beverages may stimulate your appetite and cause you to eat more than you normally would. It also decreases your inhibitions so you don’t care how much more you are eating. How many times have you enjoyed chips and salsa with your margaritas while out with friends? How many chips did you eat? Who knows, all you remember is the waiter bringing three or four refills of the chip bowl.
Another factor to take into account is that your body processes alcohol first, before fat, protein, or carbohydrates which may slow down the burning of fat. There is also evidence that drinking too much seems to increase fat carried in the stomach area- otherwise known as the beer belly. Studies show that people with a higher amount of fat in the abdominal region are at a greater risk of heart disease.
However, this doesn’t mean you can never enjoy alcohol again. It just means that it is time to take inventory to see how much you are drinking and pay attention to how many calories your favorite drinks supply. Learn how to enjoy alcohol in moderation so you don’t end up sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Those of us who consume 4 or more drinks daily are a whopping 46% more likely to be obese, research says. The connection between moderate drinking and avoiding heart disease is pretty much old news to most of us at this point. This new information was based on a study of over 8,000 people conducted by Dr. James Rohrer of the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Ahmed Arif, from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
“We don’t want to give people the wrong impression”…says Rohrer…”We certainly don’t want to recommend that non-drinkers become drinkers just to control their weight”.
If you’re a non-drinker—don’t panic. The odds for moderate drinkers are only .73% better than non-drinkers for staying thin. The main message here is that a few drinks consumed socially isn’t anything to worry about.
Some experts don’t completely agree with these findings. Dr. David L. Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, says that the slight reduction in obesity risk may very well be attributed to additional healthy behaviours unrelated to drinking.
“Many health-conscious people have a daily drink because of the widely touted health benefits; it may be a constellation of behaviours in such people that lead to weight control”…says Katz…”This would produce the appearance of a weight-control benefit from moderate drinking, but it would be illusory.”
The primary takeaway from this research is that responsible, moderate drinkers need not be alarmed at the implications of drinking on their weight loss. So if you choose to drink, do it moderately and responsibly. And if you don’t choose to do so, that’s o.k. too. WHATEVER you choose to do, make sure you’re eating right and exercising daily!
If you’re about to make changes to what you drink, you may have your own questions. If you do, do not hesitate to join others like you in our Private Facebook Community.